Despite coming away with an ugly victory against the New York Jets in Week 15, the Tennessee Titans still sit at 5-9 on the season, and the time is right to begin shifting their focus towards an offseason of potentially great change.
With two weeks remaining in the NFL regular season, the Titans currently hold the 10th pick in the draft—though that is certainly subject to change as Tennessee heads towards its last pair of games.
The Titans have holes in the roster across the board, ranging from the offensive and defensive lines to the secondary, so whoever they opt to select in the first round will have the opportunity to make an impact immediately.
Jarvis Jones, a redshirt junior, will almost certainly enter the NFL draft after recording 12.5 sacks and 22.5 tackles for loss this season.
While Jones may not have the ideal size for a 4-3 defensive end, he is widely considered the top pass-rusher in this draft class, and the kind of explosiveness he brings to the table can make him an effective player off the edge regardless of scheme.
There is a chance that Jones may not be on the board when the Titans are picking. Still, he is certainly one of the top options for a team that is desperately needing depth across the defensive line.
While linebacker may not be the Titans biggest need, adding a player with the leadership and all-around ability of Manti Te'o would provide some flexibility to the rest of the defense.
Te'o's arrival would likely lead to Colin McCarthy sliding to the strong-side linebacker position in conventional 4-3 looks while also opening up the possibility of experimenting with 3-4 looks.
Bringing in Te'o and moving McCarthy to the outside could also potentially enable Akeem Ayers to take an even larger number of snaps at defensive end, adding to the depth at that position and perhaps filling one of the biggest holes on the team.
Throughout his collegiate career, and particularly during his senior season, Te'o has shown a tendency to always find himself around the ball and to make plays in coverage as well as behind the line of scrimmage.
That kind of ability simply can't be taught.
NFL draft expert Todd McShay of ESPN considers Alabama's Chance Warmack to be the best interior offensive lineman (via al.com) to enter the NFL draft since Steve Hutchinson in 2001.
With the emergence of Fernando Velasco at center, the Titans need on the inside of its offensive line is not quite what it has been in years past, but Hutchinson's time in the NFL is winding down, and it's yet to be seen whether or not Deuce Lutui has any future in Nashville.
Warmack is an elite run-blocker with powerful hands and an intense burst off the offensive line. He has shown the potential to dominate in man-blocking.
Interior lineman rarely go in the first half of the first round, but with a pair of Hall of Fame lineman on the coaching staff, it would not be shocking to see Tennessee show a greater appreciation for a player who can simply line up and dominate nearly any player placed in front of him.
After losing Cortland Finnegan in free agency last season, the Tennessee Titans seemed content to enter this year with the cornerbacks they already had on the roster.
Though the top two players at that position, Alterraun Verner and Jason McCourty, have performed well this year, the Titans lack of depth at corner has proven to be a major detriment, as Coty Sensabaugh and Ryan Mouton have severely struggled as the team's nickel corners.
Milliner has good size and speed for a cornerback, and adding him to the Titans secondary would allow Tennessee defensive coordinator Jerry Gray to utilize Verner the same way he used Finnegan in 2010—shifting him all over the field and providing the Titans defense with further versatility at the safety and linebacker positions.
If the Titans elect to draft solely based on need, Vaccaro is a legitimate possibility simply because he is the best player at a position that Tennessee desperately needs to upgrade.
While Michael Griffin has shown flashes over the second half of the season, he is still incredibly inconsistent, and his struggles are even further exploited when he is asked to play next to the underwhelming Jordan Babineaux.
Vaccaro, while not really seen as a top-ten pick at this point, has quality man-coverage skills, a high football IQ when asked to read and react to plays in zone coverage and an ability to hold his own against the run—three things that the Titans desperately need from the safety spot.