Tennessee Titans 2013 Draft Updates: Latest News, Trade Rumors & Predictions
After a somewhat surprising 9-7 finish in 2011, the Tennessee Titans appeared to be turning a corner of sorts to becoming a team making its way back toward being a contender in the AFC South.
However, the Titans backslid in 2012, losing 10 games, and now the Titans once again find themselves with a top-10 pick in this month's 2013 NFL draft.
With that in mind, here's a look at the latest news surrounding Tennessee's draft plans, from player visits to what some leading draftniks believe is the smart play for the Titans when they go on the clock at Radio City Music Hall.
As the draft nears and speculation grows regarding the draft, we'll be updating this article with the latest scuttlebutt, so be sure to check back on a regular basis to stay on top of the latest from the Music City.
Latest News, Rumors and Reports
April 24: With only one day before the 2013 NFL draft the Tennessee Titans may be the hardest team in the top 10 to nail down, but recent reports seem to indicate that the team may look to the secondary early in the draft.
John Glennon of The Nashville Tennessean reports that head coach Mike Munchak believes finding a cornerback who excels in press coverage is a priority in this year's draft, which could lead the team to take a long look at the likes of Florida State cornerback Xavier Rhodes with the 10th overall pick.
April 13: Given that players who went to college in an NFL team's home state don't count towards the 30 visit total that each squad is allowed, it's not surprising that the Titans would look to the University of Tennessee for potential prospects.
On Saturday, quarterback Tyler Bray tweeted that he worked out for the Titans. Bray was joined in that workout by wide receivers Cordarrelle Patterson, Zach Thomas and Justin Hunter.
April 10: The Titans are widening the net so far as prospective draft picks are concerned. According to Jim Wyatt of The Nashville Tennessean, the Titans have lined up a number of additional visits, including Florida safety Matt Elam, Georgia defensive tackle John Jenkins, and defensive end Datone Jones of UCLA.
April 4: The Tennessee Titans spent the latter part of last week playing host to a couple of players who could help shore up the interior of an offensive line that was already bolstered by the acquisition of free agent Andy Levitre.
Bleacher Report NFL Lead Writer Matt Miller reported that the Titans had Cal guard Brian Schwenke in for a visit, while Ian Rapoport of NFL.com relayed that team has another visit scheduled with North Carolina's Jonathan Cooper.
That pair of beefeaters joins a growing list of players who have visited Nashville recently according to Draftace.com.
Jordan Rodgers, QB, Vanderbilt
Zac Stacy, RB, Vanderbilt
Trabis Ward, RB, Tennessee State
Ben Bartholomew, FB, Tennessee
Brian Winters, OG, Kent State
Josh Kline, OG, Kent State
Justin Pugh, OG, Syracuse
Eric Kush, C, California (PA)
Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB, LSU
Collins Ukwu, DE, Kentucky
Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
Rob Lohr, DT, Vanderbilt
Kiko Alonso, LB, Oregon
Dion Jordan, DE/OLB, Oregon
Sanders Commings, CB, Georgia
Jonathan Cyprien, S, Florida International
Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
Latest Trade Rumors
The Tennessee Titans are in a fairly advantageous spot so far as this year's draft is concerned.
After addressing a number of needs in free agency, the Titans aren't in a position where their backs are against the wall, where they feel they "have" to draft a certain position.
From the 10 spot, if a player truly strikes the Titans' fancy, they can move up a few spots without having to sell their souls to do it.
Conversely, depending on how the draft unfolds, Tennessee could easily fall back a few spots and add an extra pick or two.
With that said, were either of these scenarios to play out it would probably be a last-minute deal, but if any trade rumors surface between now and April 25, we'll be sure to keep you posted.
Latest Mock Drafts
The Titans were very active in free agency this year, and while spending that sort of cabbage can be a risky move, it appears to have filled a number of holes on the team.
As such, there's quite a bit of variance among the picks made by draftniks in the Titans' stead at No. 10.
ESPN (Mel Kiper Jr., 4/24): Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
Missouri defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson has been making a late chargs up many draft boards, and according to Kiper "Richardson is a disruptive force that you don't have to take off the field," that would address an area of need for the Titans.
Sports Illustrated (Don Banks, 4/17): Ezekiel Ansah, DE/OLB, BYU
Much like with the disparity of opinions among the experts listed here, Banks' pick for the Titans has seen its' share of change over the past few weeks. In his latest mock Banks tabs BYU defensive end Ezekiel Ansah, stating that the Titans can "readily use more pass rush and some disruptive defenders."
CBS Sports (Rob Rang, 4/21): Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
If there's one thing you can be sure of about Tennessee's first pick, it's that no one is sure who that pick will be. In Rang's last pre-draft mock it's Milliner, with Rang stating that the aggressive defense being implemented by new assistant Gregg Williams would suit "the physically gifted Milliner."
NFL.com (Bucky Brooks, 4/24): Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
Much like the inside of the offensive front, the interior of the defensive line has been something of a sore spot for the Titans over the past few years. Brooks believe that's a hole that Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd would fill very nicely, writing that Floyd "gives the Titans an imposing presence on the defensive line."
Bleacher Report (Matt Miller, 4/22): Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
The Titans added a pair of strong safeties in George Wilson and Bernard Pollard in free agency, but after Michael Griffin struggled mightily in 2012 free safety remains a problem spot. Bleacher Report NFL Lead Writer Matt Miller feels that Vaccaro would address that issue very nicely, saying that "He's a smooth operator in the open field and could play either as a starter or sub-package player until the team moves on from the disappointing Michael Griffin."
Nashville Tennessean (Jim Wyatt, 4/20): Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
As the Titans' representative in a recent mock draft for The Los Angeles Times, Wyatt throws yet another name into the mix with Floyd, writing that "The Titans obviously like the two guards, but Floyd helps them get bigger and more athletic on the defensive line."
Jake Locker Needs Better Weaponry
Granted, it likely won't be a problem that the Titans will address with the 10th overall pick, but at some point in this draft the Titans need to improve quarterback Jake Locker's options in the passing game.
This isn't to say that the Titans don't have talent in the receiving corps, but there are as many questions as there are answers.
Kenny Britt is a talented player, but injuries and constant off-field headaches cloud his future. The recently acquired Kevin Walter is a savvy veteran, but hardly the type of receiver that inspires terror in defenses.
Tight end Jared Cook departed in free agency, and while the Titans quickly replaced him with Delanie Walker, the latter is a better blocker than offensive threat.
Bleacher Report featured columnist Marlon Maloney apparently agrees, as he recently theorized that the team could target a red-zone threat such as Marshall's Aaron Dobson in the middle rounds of the 2013 draft.
The Defense Is a Work in Progress
As I stated earlier in this article, there are any number of directions that the Tennessee Titans can go in the early rounds of the 2013 draft.
And that's if they don't even address the offense.
Jurrell Casey played well for the Titans last year, but batterymate Karl Klug was average, so the team could look to address the defensive tackle position with a player like Lotulelei.
Derrick Morgan was a top-five defensive end in 2012 according to Pro Football Focus, but the free agent acquisition of Wimbley didn't pan out, so the team may look to upgrade the pass rush for new assistant coach Gregg Williams.
As the esteemed Mr. Miller pointed out, Michael Griffin was abysmal last year, so the team could look to a player like Vaccaro in the first round, or hope that Florida's Matt Elam or Florida International's Jonathan Cyprien makes it to their second-round pick.
Also, the Titans ranked 24th in pass defense last year, so the addition of some depth at cornerback would likely be wise.
None of these issues is so pressing that it must be addressed at 10th overall, however, and the silver lining of having this many small holes to patch is that it affords the Titans significant flexibility in their drafting strategy.