With Titans Eyeing New Regime, Should Quarterback Be Top Priority in 2014 Draft?

Daniel BarnesCorrespondent IIIDecember 1, 2013

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - DECEMBER 01: Ryan Fitzpatrick #4 of the Tennessee Titans reaches for a fumble while being tackled by Josh Chapman #96 of the Indianapolis Colts during the third quarter at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 1, 2013 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Against the Colts, the Titans picked up their seventh loss and have effectively put themselves out of contention for the playoffs.

For Mike Munchak and company, this also means they're likely out of a job. Munchak was hired by Bud Adams, who has since passed away, and in three years has been unable to get the Titans to the postseason.

This means that a new regime will probably be coming in 2014, and typically, new regimes mean new quarterbacks.

Jake Locker has looked great at times, but he's also looked pretty subpar. That by itself may not be a career killer, but his almost constant state of injury will be.

Even if you assume the good Locker that showed up in 2013 is what you're more likely to get in the future, when he's missed time with injury all three seasons of his career, it's tough to trust him.

Before the Colts game, I would've thought Ryan Fitzpatrick had an outside chance at the starting job, but after a four-turnover performance against a pass defense which really isn't that great, I'd say his chances are slim.

Normally, you see changes in quarterback come from the draft, but the Titans may find themselves in a hairy situation there. At 5-7 and with the Texans and Jaguars still to play, the Titans are likely to win one or two more games.

Last year at 6-10, the Titans were picking 10th overall. Other 6-10 teams had the two picks prior.

Teams that were 7-9 picked from 11 to 15, so if the Titans win one or two more, they look likely to pick anywhere from eighth overall to 15th overall.

The problem for the Titans is that many of the teams picking before them will be looking for quarterbacks themselves. Jacksonville, Tampa Bay, Cleveland, Minnesota and Houston are all likely to pick before Tennessee, and all of them may consider taking a quarterback.

2014 features a strong quarterback class, but unless the Titans get lucky, they're not likely to be picking up any better than the fourth quarterback off the board. So the question they have to ask is if having the fourth pick at the position is really the best option.

Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater is pretty generally considered to be the top quarterback in the class, and he's unlikely to be there when the Titans are picking. After that, things get a bit murkier, but Oregon's Marcus Mariota and UCLA's Brett Hundley are often the next couple.

Mariota has had some bad games lately, and a lot of his success can be attributed to Oregon's offensive scheme, but he looks like he may be the real deal. Hundley has issues with consistency and decision-making and reminds me a lot of Locker as a prospect, but he also has great athleticism and a good arm.

Then, in no particular order, there's Clemson's Tajh Boyd, Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel, Fresno State's David Carr, LSU's Zach Mettenberger, Georgia's Aaron Murray and Alabama's AJ McCarron.

Boyd and Manziel are both very mobile, but they don't have the strongest arms and are shorter than teams would prefer. Manziel also has some character concerns.

Carr and Mettenberger are prototypical pocket quarterbacks with big arms, but Carr hasn't faced many tough teams and Mettenberger hasn't produced like a first rounder should.

McCarron and Murray both suffer from the "game manager" label, and while Murray is a bit more mobile than McCarron, he's also a little shorter than ideal.

Making matters worse, Bridgewater, Mariota, Hundley and Manziel are all underclassmen and could stay in school.

Of course, if the new regime falls in love with one of the players who might be there, they'll take him, even if it's considered a reach (Munchak did the same thing with Locker), but is that the best course?

The Titans could also use a defensive end, a corner (if they can't retain Alterraun Verner), a middle linebacker, a strong safety (if they can't retain Bernard Pollard) and maybe an offensive tackle, since Michael Roos and David Stewart are getting older.

Without a third-round pick, their ability to trade up is limited, and with the picks they have, they're likely to only come away with two players that are ready to start right away. Taking a quarterback means only addressing one other immediate need early in the draft.

If the Titans elected to go for one of the other positions of need, they'd be all but guaranteed to come away with one of the best prospects at the position, which might be better for the team in the long run.

Of the quarterback prospects I think will be available, I like Mettenberger. However, I also think he's likely to still be around when the Titans pick in the second round, so if I were making the calls, I'd either trade down or draft a position of need.

The new regime may think Derek Carr's bloodlines and touch problems aren't that bad, or they may think that Manziel's talent outweighs his size and character concerns or that Hundley's inconsistency can be fixed.

It all depends on what Munchak's replacements think of this year's crop of prospects. If they see one they think is their guy, they'll pounce on him. But they'd do well to remember that it's the approach that Mike Munchak's regime took, and it didn't turn out very well for them.