Titans Mock Draft: Predicting All 7 Rounds, Pre-Scouting Combine
The NFL Scouting Combine is only a short way away (February 23 through 26), and like every year, there's no doubt in my mind that it will drastically change how the draft plays out.
Before the combine in 2012, Dontari Poe was projected anywhere from the late first round to, more often, the third round. After he blew up the combine, he went to the Kansas City Chiefs at No. 11 overall
The year before, a relatively unknown offensive tackle out of USC showed up with prototypical measurements and fluid movements in the drills. Tyron Smith went ninth overall to the Dallas Cowboys.
This year will be the same, no doubt. Until then, all we can do is project who'll stand out and who will fall flat.
Round 1, Pick 10: Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
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I'll start off by saying that I think this is a bad pick, but Kenny Vaccaro has been surging up draft boards lately, and strong safety may be the Titans' biggest need. Besides, we all know how Bud Adams loves to pick Texas players.
Vaccaro has great length for a safety, listed at 6'1" and 215 lbs. He's great at pass defense, but he's also fully capable of coming up into the box and supporting the run defense, like any good strong safety should.
If he does show up with a great combine performance like he's expected to, he could see the kind of late rise to the top 10 that Mark Barron saw in 2012. If DeMarcus Milliner doesn't make it to the Titans (which I expect he won't), then expect them to look hard at Vaccaro.
Round 2, Pick 40: Larry Warford, OG, Kentucky
Another player that has been rising on draft boards is Kentucky mauler Larry Warford. He had a great Senior Bowl, and with the strength he demonstrated there, he looks to have a big combine as well.
The most impressive thing about Warford is his strength. He impressed scouts at the Senior Bowl by being able to block bull rushes by Georgia nose tackle John Jenkins. That strength will certainly show at the combine.
The area where Warford could really see his stock soar is his speed. If he goes through the combine speed drills with a good time, he'll solidify himself as an early second-rounder.
He'd be an automatic starter at right guard, and his excellent run blocking would provide a much-needed boost to the Titans rush offense.
Round 3, Pick 70: Jordan Poyer, CB, Oregon State
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Jordan Poyer, unlike the first two picks, is a player that's been falling on draft boards, but could be a steal if he falls to the Titans here.
Unlike the top corners DeMarcus Milliner, Johnthan Banks, Xavier Rhodes and Blidi Wreh-Wilson, Poyer is under six feet, which is why his stock is lower than it should be.
That's not to say that Poyer is short. He measured in at 5'11" and had arms that were 30.625" at the Senior Bowl. Still, he's not the type of long, lean corner that has become so popular in the NFL lately.
Poyer needs to post a good vertical jump and a fast 40 time if he wants to get back into the first two rounds. If he doesn't blow the combine away in those categories, I still don't see him falling much further than the third round with the numbers he put up this season.
Round 3, Pick 97: Montori Hughes, DT, Tennessee-Martin
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The Titans are projected a third-round compensatory pick for the loss of Cortland Finnegan.
Montori Hughes was viewed as a late-round prospect until the Senior Bowl, where he impressed a lot of people. With his great combination of size (6'4" and 327 lbs) and strength, he could blow up the combine too.
I expect Hughes to be something of a poor man's Dontari Poe this year. He'll post great results in the speed drills and the bench press, and rise up to the early rounds.
After all, there aren't a lot of defensive tackles his size, and if shows athleticism, he'd be a great addition to an already-strong group of defensive tackles that the Titans have.
Round 4, Pick 107: Michael Buchanan, DE, Illinois
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Michael Buchanan started the season projected in the early rounds, but a disappointing season has dropped him to the middle rounds on most draft sites.
One problem that Buchanan has is that he's a little undersized. Despite measuring 6'5" at the Senior Bowl, he only weighed in at 252 lbs. He had a mixed week at the Senior Bowl practices but showed some athleticism in blocking a field goal.
The Titans need depth at defensive end behind Kamerion Wimbley and Derrick Morgan, so Buchanan won't spend a ton of time on the field, but with his height and frame, he could add weight and turn into a very productive player, so he'd be a great value in the fourth.
Round 5, Pick 144: Terron Armstead, OT/OG, Arkansas Pine-Bluff
Terron Armstead isn't exactly a household name, but he's one of several small-school prospects who stood out at the Senior Bowl. He's one of the guard/tackle tweeners who could probably play either right tackle or left guard at the NFL level.
His Senior Bowl measurements were good (33.625" arms, 9.875" hands), and he appears to be quick for his size (he also happens to be a track champion). He saw playing time when he filled in for an injured Dallas Thomas, and did very well.
With his track background, he'll undoubtedly do well at the combine, and since he also has long arms, he could be a great grab for the Titans to fill in at left guard.
Furthermore, with David Stewart's season-ending injury making his status for next season questionable, getting a guy who could play tackle at the next level is a nice bonus.
Round 5, Pick 169: Nico Johnson, ILB, Alabama
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Colin McCarthy is a great middle linebacker when he's healthy, but that didn't happen much this season. The Titans need to invest a middle- to late-round pick in a reliable backup, which is what they do here with Nico Johnson.
Johnson played on the best defense in the country, but he wasn't a standout. In the Senior Bowl, he played poorly as well, especially against passes.
That said, Johnson is a good run stuffer and would make a solid backup because of that. With his great size (6'1" and 249 lbs), he should be able to stuff even some of the bigger running backs, but the Titans will need to adjust their game plans if he is playing because of his weakness against the pass.
If he posts a faster-than-expected 40 time at the combine, he could help himself, but even then, he'll likely be seen as just a run stuffer.
Round 7, Pick 206: Zac Stacy, RB, Vanderbilt
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The Titans kept Chris Johnson on for the season, guaranteeing him a huge payday, so he'll be seeing the field on almost every down. Even with that in mind, they're going to need to draft a running back at some point.
First of all, other than Johnson, Jamie Harper is all that the Titans have on their roster in the running back department. With Darius Reynaud and Javon Ringer both entering free agency, they may need to draft one.
Second, if Chris Johnson doesn't perform like a $10 million running back (again), then the Titans will almost certainly cut him, which means needing another running back.
Zac Stacy is a workhorse-type running back who could excel in the NFL with the right tools around him, but he is a little slower than the running backs that will go in the early rounds.
Round 7, Pick 241: Dan Buckner, WR, Arizona
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Kenny Britt is likely to be spending his last year with the Titans, so I wouldn't be shocked to see them spend a late-round pick on a wide receiver with some high-end potential, which is exactly what they're getting in Dan Buckner.
Buckner didn't have an eye-popping season in 2012, but he comes with something the Titans receivers are sorely lacking: height.
Buckner is listed at 6'4", which would immediately make him the tallest Titans receiver. Tall as he may be, he isn't very fast, and is expected to post a slow 40 time. However, if he can give Jake Locker a tall target in the end zone, then he's worth a seventh-round pick.
If he ends up contributing anything else, then it's an even better investment.