Tennessee Titans Mock Draft: Where Will the Titans Go with Their First Pick?
Since the Titans historically don't take offensive linemen in the first round, and since they passed on David DeCastro at 20th overall in 2011, I assumed that they wouldn't use a top-10 selection on a guard, no matter how good the best available is.
However, it appears that Ruston Webster may consider a guard with the Titans' first selection, which really opens up what they could do.
Who the Titans select with their first overall pick will shape what they'll do in the remaining rounds, so here's an in-depth look at who they could pick and why with the 10th overall selection.
1. Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
I think that, if he's available, Dee Milliner will without a doubt be the Titans' pick. The only question is, will he be available?
Milliner was considered the top corner in the draft before a spectacular combine, so only a serious injury should prevent him from being the first corner off the board in April. Furthermore, Walter Football draft writer Charlie Campbell lists Milliner as one of five players the Titans are openly considering with their first pick.
For the season, Milliner broke up a monstrous 20 passes and intercepted two others while also picking up four tackles for loss and 54 total tackles. He then had a fantastic combine where his 40 time was the second-fastest of all defensive backs.
Milliner is one of the few blue-chip prospects in this draft, and if he somehow falls to the Titans, they'd be crazy not to take him.
2. Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina
Even though I think it'd be a bad move, Jonathan Cooper is looking like a pretty likely pick for the Titans if he's available.
Like Karl Klug, Mike Martin and Zach Brown, Cooper is a former wrestler, and, along with Milliner, is one of the five players the Titans are apparently considering.
Now I'm not a fan of using a top-10 selection on a guard, but if the Titans decide that's where they want to go, then Cooper should be their man. First of all, Cooper is a great blocker. He's a powerful run-blocker who cleared the way for Giovani Bernard to rack up 2,481 rushing yards and 25 touchdowns in two seasons.
Cooper is a much more polished pass protector than fellow top prospect Chance Warmack (more on him later), and Cooper didn't have the benefit of being nuzzled between Barrett Jones and D.J. Fluker all season.
Second, Cooper is versatile enough to play either guard or center. When injuries began to mount for the Titans' offensive line in 2012, they saw how handy versatility can be.
Lastly, Cooper is a team player who always seems to speak highly of his teammates. He's got the tape, the athleticism, the character and the versatility the Titans are after. He may not have the positional value, but if you're going to take a guard this high, it may as well be one like Cooper.
3. Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
Desmond Trufant is looking more and more like a prototypical shutdown corner with every day that passes. He had a solid season at Washington, but after a fantastic Senior Bowl, his stock soared, and that has continued through the combine.
Trufant's 40-yard dash was the second-fastest among defensive backs (tying Dee Milliner), and his 10-yard split time was third for all defensive backs, showing both his straight-line speed and his quickness.
He also landed impressive vertical and broad jumps, but it was on the bench where he really surprised people with 16 reps of 225 lbs.
Trufant has it all: game tape, strength, speed, quickness, explosiveness, NFL bloodlines (his brother Marcus still plays for the Seahawks) and connections to the Titans. GM Ruston Webster worked with the Seahawks for years, where he was familiar with the Washington program (where Jake Locker also played).
If Milliner is off the board, I think Trufant would be the wisest pick the Titans could make.
4. Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
Most big boards proclaim Chance Warmack the best guard in the draft and some even call him the draft's best overall player.
However, Warmack is still a guard, and a road grading run-blocker at that, so there's absolutely no chance he goes first overall. The first spot he could realistically go is No. 10 to the Titans.
The problem with Warmack is that he's been way overhyped. He isn't the best player in the draft, and he isn't even the best guard in the draft.
That's not to say he isn't a great guard. He's been a part of one of the best run-blocking offensive lines of the past few years. He's opened running lanes for the likes of Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy, and Alabama has won national championships the last two years largely due to a powerful run game.
However, in today's NFL, the run game will only take you so far. Warmack is less polished as a pass-blocker, and he's had a few bad games in his day. The worst thing for his stock, perhaps, is his combine performance.
Warmack was one of the slowest offensive linemen at the scouting combine, and only two prospects had a slower 40-yard dash time. His 10-yard split was better, but he still managed the bottom 10.
He looked great in the drills, but his very slow times may limit him to being a right guard only. He'd probably be a great right guard. In a few years, he could be one of the NFL's best right guards, but that may be all he'll be.
5. Ezekiel Ansah, Dion Jordan, or Barkevious Mingo
The Titans seem to be happy at defensive ends, and Walterfootball's Charlie Campbell cites sources from within the Titans who say that the pick will come down to one of the four players I mentioned. However, things change, and most everyone agrees that the Titans need more depth at defensive end.
Like I said, the Titans say they're satisfied with Kamerion Wimbley and Derrick Morgan, but if they liked what they saw from one of the top defensive end prospects, they may take one of them instead.
Ezekiel Ansah, a defensive end from BYU, is not likely to fall to the Titans, but if he does, he'll almost certainly be the best player available. Ansah is a 6'5" tall, 271 lbs athletic freak of nature in the mold of Jevon Kearse.
He's only been playing football for two years, but he managed to 13 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, nine deflected passes, six hurries and an interception in 2012. His upside is tremendous, and his stellar combine performance only boosted his stock.
Barkevious Mingo and Dion Jordan (from LSU and Oregon, respectively) are similar prospects. Both are tall (6'4" and 6'6") and are a little lean to play defensive end. However, both have the frame to add muscle and have amazing speed.
Both turned in 40 yard dash times of 4.53 seconds, and Mingo also had a 10 yard split time of 1.55 seconds (Jordan's was 1.57).
While all three of these guys ooze upside, the problem with all of them is that they're all raw. Ansah needs to refine his technique and both Mingo and Jordan need to add weight, and none would be big contributors in 2013.
The Titans could surprise everyone and take one of them, but I think they're more likely to stick with what they think they need and take Milliner, Trufant, Cooper or Warmack. Either way, we'll have to wait until April to find out.