2013 NFL Mock Draft: Tennessee Titans
With an 0-2 start and several very tough matchups ahead, the Titans are looking like they could have a pick in the top 10 (in my latest mock, I had them at eighth overall). That means the players available to them are now very different than those I gave them in my first mock.
Furthermore, some prospects have shined brighter than others as the season has moved along, so their standings have also changed. With all that in mind, here's a new seven-round mock draft that reflects, roughly, those changes.
Expect a few more of these over the course of the season as well.
Round 1: Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
Derrick Morgan and Kamerion Wimbley have done a good job so far in getting into the backfield. However, they've been quiet late in the games, which is why the Titans need to go the Giants route, and get a third pass-rusher involved.
A top-10 pick means it's likely that the Titans will be choosing from the top one or two defensive ends available. Right now, the top player I have being available when the Titans select is Florida State end Bjoern Werner.
Werner played his 2011 season at 270 lbs, but has slimmed down this season to 255. This is smaller than the Titans like, but he's already shown his ability to play well at a much heavier weight and can easily add another 10 lbs.
In 2011, Werner had seven sacks, 11 tackles for loss, five broken-up passes and eight quarterback hurries. This season, he already leads the NCAA in sacks with 6.5 just three weeks in. He also has nine tackles for loss, a broken-up pass and a forced fumble.
Now, with Brandon Jenkins out for the season, Werner sees constant double teams and still produces, so his talent is obvious. He'll make the Titans pass rush stay dangerous for years.
Round 2: Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina
Right now, it looks as it the consensus top guard in this year's class, Alabama's Chance Warmack, will be taken by the time that the Titans are on the clock, but luckily for them, there's still a standout left guard in Jonathan Cooper who will probably be available.
Jonathan Cooper opened up big holes for running back Giovani Bernard last season, helping him reach over 1,200 yards rushing as a sophomore. This season, he's already shown that he's a polished pass-protector too.
Since he's already a great pass-blocker, Cooper could start right away at left guard, leaving Steve Hutchinson free to move over to the right side of the line, where I think he'd do a better job not having to pull so often.
Round 3: Joseph Randle, RB, Oklahoma State
No matter how much you may want to blame the offensive line for Chris Johnson's performance this season, there's no question that a large part of the trouble is Johnson himself. When you're making $13 million a year and averaging 1.1 yards per carry, something is wrong.
Other running backs have done more with just as bad an offensive line, and none of them are getting paid what Johnson is. With that in mind, I think Johnson will likely be cut at the end of the season (there's a bold prediction for you), and so the Titans will need a new running back to replace him.
They may try a running back by committee approach with Javon Ringer, Jamie Harper and Darius Reynaud, but since there's a very talented class of running backs coming up, I think they'd do better to pick up another runner in the draft.
Joseph Randle is the top back I see being available when the Titans are picking in Round 3. So far, Randle is three for three in 100-yard games this season, rushing for 335 total yards in three games.
He's also got good size, standing 6'1" tall and weighing in at 200 lbs. Against Arizona, he also showed that he can catch, hauling in eight receptions for 70 yards.
Rotating Randle in with Ringer and Harper will give them a good enough group of rushers to force opponents to respect the run again.
Round 4: Cyril Richardson, OG/OT, Baylor
I'm sure that the Titans would really like to pick up a center in the draft, but unfortunately this year's center class isn't shaping up to be that good, so it would benefit the Titans to double up on guards instead.
With a left guard of the future in place, the Titans need to look for a future on the right side, and there happens to be one in monstrous Baylor tackle Cyril Richardson.
Richardson is a tackle who moved inside this season and projects as a guard at the next level. And at 6'5" tall and a staggering 335 lbs, Richardson would be a natural fit on the right side.
Since Hutchinson will still have two years left on his contract at the end of the season, it's unlikely that Richardson would start his first year, which is good because it would give the Titans a year to coach him up and refine his pass-protection.
Having a guard who could also play at tackle in a pinch would also be handy, since both the Titans' tackles are getting on in years, and their play is starting to suffer.
Round 5: James Morris, OLB/ILB, Iowa
Colin McCarthy's absence really hurt the Titans in Sunday's game against the Chargers. The Chargers ran more effectively than they should have, and their second-string tight ends burned the Titans due to mistakes in coverage.
The Titans could use better depth at both inside and outside linebacker. One player that could give them better depth at both positions is Iowa linebacker James Morris.
For the season, Morris has already racked up 28 total tackles, 2.5 for loss, one broken-up pass and one interception. If he keeps it up when Iowa starts to face some tougher teams, he might raise his stock out of this range, but for now, he's a mid-round pick.
The 6'2" tall, 230 lbs linebacker plays on the outside now, but he could easily transition to the middle position in the pros. The Titans would probably want him to play a little of both so he could come in for injured or tired players.
Round 7: Dustin Harris, KR, Texas A&M
The Titans don't have a sixth-round pick, since they traded it to pick up Scott Solomon.
With Marc Mariani out for the season, the Titans can't be sure if he'll return at 100 percent next season or not. If he doesn't, the Titans may want to add a punt returner.
A good player for that would be Texas A&M defensive back Dustin Harris. In 2011, he led the country with a punt return average of 18.6 yards. He currently holds A&M's record for most return yards in a game (162) and had one 72-yard punt return for a touchdown against Kansas.
He's one of the best returners in the country, but he'll be available in the seventh round because that's probably the only way he can contribute to an NFL squad.
At 175 lbs, he's way too light to play defensive back in the NFL, and his skill set isn't really that of a draftable corner. However, as a kick or punt returning specialist, I think he could be a valuable contribution to the team (at least as far as seventh rounders go).