Full Titans Scouting Guide for the 2013 East-West Shrine Game
The 88th annual East-West Shrine Game kicks off this Saturday, meaning the 28 fanbases who have been relegated to watching other teams pursue football's Holy Grail are almost done the closer we get to draft day.
The East-West Shrine Game offers NFL scouts the first opportunity to see some of the upcoming draft classes' players compete against one another in an All-Star game of sorts.
The Titans' main needs as we head toward free agency are guard, safety, defensive end, middle linebacker, tight end and corner.
While the front office may fill some of the holes at the latter positions through the aforementioned free-agency process, let's take a look at the guys at those positions anyway to get an idea of who Tennessee may set its sights on.
DE Wes Horton, USC
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The Titans had hoped that signing Kamerion Wimbley would solve the team's pass-rushing woes. Unfortunately, Wimbley was often invisible throughout the year.
While Wimbley didn't meet expectations, there is still room for growth given another full offseason at the position.
Derrick Morgan was the surprise of the defensive line, as he really came on down the stretch and showed why the Titans drafted him in the first round.
His continued progress will be key to the Titans' pass rush in the future, but the team needs more playmakers at the position.
USC's Wes Horton has managed to stand out in practices, showing a lot of athleticism and some raw pass-rushing skills that need some time to be refined, according to draftinsider.net.
The Titans could take a mid-round flier on him, and make him part of a rotation at the position.
S Duke Williams, Nevada
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The play of Michael Griffin and Jordan Babineaux was abysmal to say the least. According to Pro Football Focus, the only safety tandems more detrimental to their team's success were those of the New Orleans Saints and the Philadelphia Eagles.
Griffin was easily the worst of the Tennessee tandem, but since GM Ruston Webster saw fit to sign him to a five-year contract last offseason, the only likely change will be to the oft-benched Babineaux.
Nevada's Duke Williams proved to be a tackling machine, racking up 100 tackles, 5.5 for a loss, along with eight pass breakups, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
Getting improved safety play is vital to the improvement of Tennessee's league-worst scoring defense, especially in this copycat league where tight ends are becoming more and more popular.
Williams is another mid-round option who the Titans can select if they go in other directions early in the draft.
TE Lucas Reed, New Mexico
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At 6'6", 249 pounds, Lucas Reed has all the measurables of a top tight end prospect. Jared Cook may not be back with the team after continuously being underutilized, either undeservedly or due to ineptitude on Cook's part.
Reed had to be corrected on several occasions when it came to his route-running, according to CBS Sports, but if this coaching staff believes it can coach up Taylor Thompson, then Reed could easily be another candidate.
He possesses the size and athleticism to be a quality player, and if he joined the Titans, he would likely be third on the team's depth chart.
G Earl Watford, James Madison
The Titans are once again in dire need of interior offensive line help. Fernando Velasco actually ended up being a quality starting center, making the injury to Eugene Amano quite fortuitous (as mean-spirited as that may seem).
The team attempted to shore up the unit by signing Steve Hutchinson to play on the left side, but his play fell off precipitously from the rest of his career.
If he can bounce back, than the need isn't quite as dire, but a developmental prospect would be a wise target.
James Madison University's Earl Watford is ranked ninth on NFL Draft Scout, and is a two-time First Team All-CAA selection.
If the Titans feel that Hutchinson can improve his form to his usual All-Pro levels for a season or two, then Watford could fit in behind him and learn a thing or two.
LB A.J. Klein, Iowa State
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The uncertainty surrounding Colin McCarthy has become much more palpable after an injury-plagued 2012 campaign.
The preseason showed a lot of promise, as McCarthy showed a knack for picking off passes while still racking up tackles by the dozens.
Enter Iowa State's A.J. Klein...
He's just the kind of rah rah guy who coaches love to lead a team's defense. He led his team in tackles with 98 and was selected First Team All-Big 12 Conference.
The promising gains of outside linebackers Akeem Ayers and Zach Brown, through and otherwise tumultuous season, places all the focus on the middle of the unit, which could be a strength for the team in the future.
Klein can either push McCarthy to get back on track, or usurp his role and become the new starter of the corps.