Barrett Jones and a Look Ahead to the Tennessee Titans' 2013 NFL Draft
While the Tennessee Titans are on a bit of a break between minicamp and training camp, the football action never really stops.
Despite a promising last couple of drafts, the team still has major holes that it will have to address in the 2013 draft.
While the draft is still approximately 300 days away, it's never too early to project whom the Titans will select with their six current picks. (The Titans traded their 2013 sixth-round pick in the deal to get Scott Solomon in this year's seventh round.)
Interior offensive line, defensive line, the secondary and even running back are positions to look at as the Titans continue to build.
Jackson Jeffcoat, Defensive End, Texas
Derrick Morgan and Kamerion Wimbley have to hold up all year for the Titans to have a competent pass rush.
Competent would be a big improvement over 2011.
The Titans barely touched the position in the 2012 draft, with seventh-round pick Scott Solomon the only addition to the defensive-end rotation. While the Titans have hit on some seventh-rounders in recent years, Solomon could end up on the practice squad.
The younger Jeffcoat was an All-American in high school and had 7.5 sacks as a sophomore. Note that all 7.5 sacks came after game six of the season.
He'll remind fans of Jevon Kearse.
Other Top Defensive-End Prospects
Barkevious Mingo, LSU
Sam Montgomery, LSU
Jarvis Jones, Georgia
Alex Okafor, Texas
Barrett Jones, Guard, Alabama
The Titans put a piece of duct tape on the broken windshield that is their interior offensive line when they signed Steve Hutchinson. He was a bit of a consolation prize when the Peyton Manning sweepstakes didn't go the Titans' way.
Hutchinson, like Manning, is at the tail end of his career, and it's going to be tough to expect 16 starts out of him at left guard.
With Eugene Amano and Leroy Harris being Eugene Amano and Leroy Harris, an upgrade's going to be necessary. The Titans haven't taken an offensive lineman before the third round since Michael Roos in 2005.
Barrett Jones could turn that around.
He started 14 games at right guard last year for Alabama and was an All-American. Jones won the 2011 Outland Trophy as the nation's best interior lineman.
Mike Munchak might see a kindred spirit in Jones and break the Titans' unwritten rule on waiting on drafting offensive linemen.
Other Top G/C Prospects
Jonathan Cooper, Guard UNC
Travis Frederick, Guard Wisconsin
Khaled Holmes, C USC
Johnathan Jenkins, Defensive Tackle, Georgia
While the Titans had great returns from rookies Jurrell Casey and Karl Klug last year and third-round pick Mike Martin is going to be a mainstay in the rotation, the team's missing that Albert Haynesworth-type difference-maker in the interior.
Yes, Haynesworth used to be good.
Tennessee could do worse than picking up another SEC standout in Johnathan Jenkins of Georgia. Jenkins hurt his shoulder in the fourth quarter of Georgia's 33-30 Outback Bowl loss to Michigan State and decided to return for his senior season.
When a guy's listed at 351 pounds, you know that he's a space-eater. For the Titans to get back in the top 10 of the NFL in defense, they need guys who can take on double-teams and shut down the run.
Jenkins is a prime candidate.
Other Top Defensive-Tackle Prospects
Star Lotulelei, Utah
Johnathon Hankins, Ohio State
Bennie Logan, LSU
Margus Hunt, SMU
Jesse Williams, Alabama
T.J. McDonald, Safety, USC
Jordan Babineaux filled in at strong safety in 2011 so well that he earned a contract extension with the club.
While the team just locked down Michael Griffin for five years, the strong safety spot is not presently filled with a difference-maker.
T.J. McDonald had a chance to enter the 2012 NFL Draft, but instead he decided to go back for his senior season and try to win a national title with teammate Matt Barkley. McDonald was a first-team All-American by Pro Football Weekly and The Sporting News.
He's a team captain, and the Titans need more leaders like McDonald.
Other Top Safety Prospects
Tony Jefferson, Oklahoma
Ray Ray Armstrong, Miami
Robert Lester, Alabama
David Amerson, Cornerback, North Carolina State
There is a lot of confidence in the Titans' young cornerbacks, but it's possible that Jason McCourty and Alterraun Verner looked so good in their starts because Cortland Finnegan was lined up on the opposite side.
If one or both fail when moving up in the depth chart, the Titans will have to consider taking a cornerback early in next year's draft.
David Amerson of North Carolina State is the current top prospect.
As a sophomore he had 13 interceptions, and that led the nation. While cornerbacks are traditionally no taller than six feet, Amerson is 6'3".
The Titans may not need a cornerback next year.
If they do, Amerson's the guy.
Other Top Cornerback Prospects
Xavier Rhodes, Florida State
Johnthan Banks, Mississippi State
Tyrann Mathieu, LSU
DeMarcus Milliner, Alabama
Rex Burkhead, Running Back, Nebraska
One sign that the Titans are going away from the run-first mantra of the Jeff Fisher era was that the team did not draft a running back in 2011.
Under Fisher, the Titans kept chipping away at the position until they hit with Chris Johnson in 2008.
After this season, they may need another running back. Backup Javon Ringer will be a free agent and second-year player Jamie Harper was not impressive in limited touches. Neither player is a good option to be a change-of-pace guy.
Burkhead has the name of a bruising back. He led the Cornhuskers with 1,357 rushing yards in their first Big Ten season. Burkhead has 49 career receptions, so he's not just a one-trick running back.
Johnson's going to start and play out his contract.
The franchise needs to think about his long-term backup.
Other Top Running-Back Prospects
Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina
Michael Dyer, Arkansas State
Montee Ball, Wisconsin
Giovanni Bernard, North Carolina
Stephan Taylor, Stanford