Updating Tennessee Titans Big Board Post-Combine
This year's NFL Scouting Combine featured a lot of quality prospects who could intrigue the Tennessee Titans. Pass-rushers, offensive tackles, corners and running backs abound in this year's crop of players.
There were already some great players whom scouts had their eyes on, but there are always surprise last-second players who rise and fall because of their performance at the combine.
Here are 25 players whom the Titans should have at the top of their big board.
1. Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
Titans President and CEO Tommy Smith made a statement endorsing Jake Locker as the Titans quarterback in an interview with The Tennessean, per Jim Wyatt. However, even if they do believe in Jake Locker, if a great quarterback prospect manages to fall into their lap, they have to take him.
Teddy Bridgewater is the best quarterback prospect in this class in my mind. He was accurate, consistent and a dangerous passer in each game he played for Louisville over the past two years.
He also alleviated concerns about his size. Measuring in at 6'3" tall and 214 pounds makes him a little smaller than what's deemed perfect at the position, but he's not small enough to cause any problems.
Bridgewater didn't throw at the combine, which is a concern, but he's shown enough throwing on the field to make him look like a great player to build a franchise around.
2. Anthony Barr, OLB/DE, UCLA
Anthony Barr didn't have a great combine, but he didn't have a bad one either. His measurements were perfect for a guy who may end up having to spend some time as a 4-3 defensive end if the Titans take him.
At 6'5" tall, Barr has the length to add a little more weight if he needed to, but 255 pounds might be big enough to play a 4-3 end in a limited capacity.
Barr showed off his speed at the combine with a 4.66-second 40-yard dash and a 1.56-second 10-yard split, but he had an unimpressive bench-press total of just 15 reps.
Still, since he's only been playing outside linebacker for two years, his ceiling is off the charts, and the Titans probably couldn't ask for a better player out of the draft pool.
3. Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
Greg Robinson's draft stock was already gaining momentum before the scouting combine, but he still managed to help himself a lot at the combine.
Robinson had great measurements, with long arms (35"), good size, great strength and speed and a smooth, fluid performance on the field drills. Robinson was among the best of all offensive linemen in the 40-yard dash (4.92 seconds), the 10-yard split (1.68 seconds) and on the bench press (32 reps).
Given his excellent season, an excellent combine and great measurements for the position, Robinson has definitely crossed over into the elite category among the 2014 draft prospects.
4. Khalil Mack, OLB/DE, Buffalo
Another player who helped increase his already mounting hype was Buffalo Bulls pass-rusher Khalil Mack.
Mack dominated the lower-level competition he faced while at Buffalo, and he ended up having a pretty impressive combine as well. He measured in at a solid 6'3" tall and 251 pounds, the perfect size for a 3-4 rush linebacker.
He also bested Barr in the 40-yard dash by one-hundredth of a second and had a much better bench-press total with 23 reps. He fantastic jumps as well, with a 40-inch vertical jump and a 128-inch long jump.
Mack has shown nothing but potential for the entire 2013 season; the Titans would be very lucky to land him.
5. Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
Jake Matthews, son of Hall of Famer Bruce Matthews, had been the consensus top-rated offensive tackle prospect for most of the season, but his stock received a hit, taking it down slightly, because of how great Greg Robinson looked.
He was surpassed by Robinson, but Matthews is still a fantastic tackle prospect himself. Matthews had shorter arms, measuring a bit shorter than idea (33.375"), and he didn't have the best bench-press total (24 reps).
Still, Matthews moved around on the field with agility and awareness, and he posted a great time in the 10-yard split (1.7 seconds), so he didn't hurt himself. He has a great NFL bloodline and tons of great tape, so he's still a blue-chip guy, just not the best at his position.
6. Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
You might have expected to find Jadeveon Clowney higher on this board, but the questions about his work ethic make him worth reconsidering.
Clowney showed that he is an athletic freak of nature by running a 4.53-second 40-yard dash as a 266-pound man. He also impressed on the jump drills, posting a 37.5-inch vertical jump and a 124-inch long jump.
His bench-press total was an unimpressive 21 reps, but it's not bad enough to be a concern. Clowney's athleticism and his physical abilities are not in question, but his work ethic might be. According to NFL.com's Mike Huguenin, on NFL Network, draft guru Mike Mayock said Clowney may not work hard enough to dominate as the pass-rusher he has the potential to be.
The Titans will do their own interviews of course, and they'll have to decide for themselves whether they trust Clowney's work ethic. If he looks good to them, he'll obviously be at or near the top of their big board.
7. Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
Alterraun Verner probably won't be re-signed by the Titans. Therefore, they may consider bringing in another highly touted corner prospect to replace him if they don't have confidence in the skill set of any of the young players currently at that position.
Dennard was a reliable cornerstone for Michigan State's formidible defense in 2013, and he helped himself with a good combine performance. Dennard had a respectable 15 reps on the bench, decent measurements and a fairly quick 4.51-second 40-yard dash.
It was not the best combine performance, but there was nothing to raise red flags. And with the great tape Dennard compiled over the 2013 season, all he needed to do was not raise any red flags to cement a first-round selection.
8. Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
This is a great year for offensive tackle prospects. Taylor Lewan, the 6-foot-7 prospect out of Michigan is only the third-best prospect in this class, but he still looks like a potential stud tackle.
For his size, Lewan's arms aren't very long at just 33.625 inches, but he proved to be very quick on his feet, and like Matthews and Robinson, he looked superb in the on-field drills.
In any other class, Lewan would be a top-five pick, but with such a strong, deep class at offensive tackle, Lewan should only be the third tackle on Tennessee's big board.
9. Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida
Just like with Bridgewater, if the Titans think Blake Bortles could be a great quarterback, and he's the best player available, they have to consider taking him.
Unlike Bridgewater, Bortles elected to throw the ball at the combine, and he looked very good doing it. His team's big bowl victory and his 6-foot-5 stature don't hurt either.
As I said before, the Titans seem to believe in Locker, but if Bortles is available, the Titans need to do enough research to see if they'd consider him an upgrade. Because if they think he would be, it'd be tempting to grab him.
10. Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
Dennard may be the best corner in my opinion, but Justin Gilbert has enough size and athleticism to potentially surpass him.
First of all, Gilbert had fantastic measurements, coming in at 6'0" and 202 pounds, he also had long arms (33.125"), a good bench-press total of 20 reps and a blazing 4.37-second 40-yard dash.
Not surprisingly, Gilbert did well on the jumps as well, posting a 35.5-inch vertical and a 126-inch long jump.
Since Gilbert blew the combine out of the water and was already the consensus No. 2 cornerback prospect in the class, there's a good chance he ends up surpassing his classmate, Dennard, and being taken in the top 10.
If he's one of the remaining players when the Titans make their selection, they ought to give him some serious consideration.
11. Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
Considering how good a player he is, Sammy Watkins is very low on this list. He's arguably one of the two or three best overall prospects in the entire class, but he plays at a position where the Titans are already fairly strong.
Kendall Wright and Justin Hunter both look like future superstars, and the Titans still have "Mr. Reliable" Nate Washington and promising end-zone threat Michael Preston. Watkins could certainly improve the team, but he wouldn't make as big of an impact as a pass-rusher or fulfilling another position of need.
Still, Watkins gave teams more reasons to like him with a strong combine performance. He ran the 40 in 4.43 seconds and had a 126-inch broad jump, top-five numbers in both categories.
Watkins would be one of the best players the Titans could possibly get their hands on, but he just doesn't fit a need.
12. Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
Kony Ealy didn't impress at he combine, and that does drop his draft stock a bit, but he had good measurements and looked great on film all season, so he's definitely still a very desirable pass-rushing prospect.
Ealy's measurements were fantastic, and he passed the eyeball test. At 6'4" tall and 273 pounds, with long arms (34.25"), he's the perfect size for a 4-3 defensive end. He's also just about big enough to spend time as a 3-4 end.
Unfortunately, he didn't do well at the combine, only excelling at one drill, the 10-yard split, where he posted a time of 1.66 seconds.
Still, he looked great over the season at Missouri, and he, along with teammate Michael Sam, is one of the biggest reasons why Missouri was such a good team in 2013.
13. Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
Delanie Walker had a good season for the Titans in 2013, but if the best tight end prospect happens to be the highest player on the Titans board when they pick, they'd have to take him.
A two-tight end offense isn't an unusual thing in the NFL, and having Eric Ebron in a receiving group that already features Kendall Wright and Justin Hunter, the Titans offense would be impressive.
Ebron has been the consensus top tight end in the draft for most of the 2013 season, but he reaffirmed his position at the combine with a great showing. Ebron had the second-fastest 40 time among tight ends at 4.6 seconds, and he had a decent bench-press total of 24 reps.
That, coupled with his solid measurements (just over 6'4" and 250 lbs) should secure him a very early pick. It may even nab him a spot in the top 10.
14. Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
The Titans are already pretty strong at the defensive tackle position. Between Jurrell Casey, Sammie Hill, Karl Klug, Mike Martin and Antonio Johnson, the Titans had a very talented and deep group of defensive tackles.
However, with the defense possibly switching to the 3-4 look, the Titans don't have many players who fit the 3-4 defensive end mold very well. And that's where Ra'Shede Hageman comes in.
Hageman has the height for the position at 6'6" tall, and despite weighing in at 310 pounds, he can be very explosive; he showed that with a 35.5-inch vertical jump.
He's also strong;he managed to get 32 reps on the bench, despite having some very long arms.
15. C.J. Mosley, MLB, Alabama
I think C.J. Mosley is an overrated prospect. He doesn't have great size, and not working out at the combine is always worrisome, but he did look great in the on-field drills, and the Titans might need a new inside linebacker.
Mosley didn't bench press or try the 40-yard dash, but he did post a passable 35-inch vertical jump, but he performed poorly on the long jump, with a 116-inch jump as his best effort.
Mosley looks great on film, and he looked fantastic in coverage drills, but his size is a concern. He isn't the most athletic linebacker in the world, so he shouldn't be ranked much higher than this on the Titans' big board.
16. Marcus Smith, OLB/DE, Louisville
I think a sleeper who may be greatly underrated is Louisville pass-rusher Marcus Smith. Smith had a great season and continued to help himself with a solid week of practice at the Senior Bowl that already caught the attention of the Titans.
Smith had a solid combine as well, as he ended up with a 4.68-second 40-yard dash, a 1.57-second 10-yard split and a 121-inch long jump.
His combine performance coupled with his 14.5-sack season make him a candidate for a late rise on draft boards. He may be worth a first-rounder if the Titans decide to trade down in the first.
17. HaHa Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
The Titans are probably going to keep Michael Griffin around, but if they decide to make more drastic player cuts, he could be cut, leaving the Titans with a hole at the position.
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is the top-rated safety in the class, and he'd be worth a look if the Titans ended up trading down, or if he were to fall at the last minute.
Clinton-Dix didn't do anything impressive at the combine, but he didn't really do badly enough to hurt himself, especially with Calvin Pryor coming up short (more on that later).
18. Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
Like I said before, the Titans don't need a wide receiver, but if a great one can be seized upon for a great value, why not?
Mike Adams is a very big man for a wide receiver, at nearly 6'5", and 231 pounds, and for all that size, he can really move. Evans ran the 40 in 4.53 seconds, which isn't among the best times, but for a receiver his size, it's fantastic.
Evans projects to be a matchup nightmare in the NFL, and he has tight end size coupled with receiver moves and speed. If he continues to play as physically at the line of scrimmage as he did in college, everyone except the biggest corners will have multiple problems covering him.
19. Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame
Stephon Tuitt is an enormous player, but for a defensive end who stands 6'6" tall and tips the scales at 304 pounds, he can move, which is why he was such an effective pass-rusher at Notre Dame.
Tuitt also showed that he had great strength at the combine, benching 225 pounds 31 times, despite having arms that were the second-longest among all defensive lineman at the combine (34.75").
Tuitt has lost weight since the season ended, so if he looks quick at his Pro Day, teams might think they'll be getting the 2012 version of Tuitt, who was a much better pass-rusher. If Tuitt looks like an effective pass-usher, it'll cause his stock go up substantially.
20. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
I know that Johnny Manziel had a great 40 time of 4.56 seconds unofficially, but he hurt himself in two ways: First, he measured in at just over 5'11" tall, and, second, he admitted that he had counseling while at Texas A&M.
Russell Wilson is making teams reconsider short quarterbacks, but it's still an uphill battle, and checking in at under 6' tall won't help Manziel.
However, the big thing that could hurt Manziel is the admission that he had counseling while at Texas A&M for alcohol and anger management, an admission recently discussed, according to Chase Goodbread of NFL.com. Manziel can definitely play, but his maturity has always been in question.
When you already are shorter than people like quarterbacks to be, having maturity issues doesn't help and could actually make Manziel take a tumble when the draft rolls around.
21. Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
Kyle Fuller looked like an early first-round corner prospect for the first half of the season. Unfortunately, his season ended early due to an injury, and that was the concern about him going into the combine.
But he managed to prove doubters wrong with an excellent performance. Fuller ran the 40 in 4.49 seconds, showing great speed, and even more importantly, showing that Fuller seems to be back to health.
Fuller didn't excel on the bench, but his jumps were among the best of all defensive backs, with a 38.5-inch vertical and a 128-inch long jump. Only four backs had better verticals, and only two players did better on the long jump.
Fuller is a natural cover corner, so now that questions about his health seem answered, he ought to be a first-rounder.
22. Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
At a certain point, even at a position where a team is certain that it's strong, it takes a player at that position anyway because he becomes too good to pass up. If Aaron Donald fell far enough, he could be that guy.
Donald has the same limitations as Jurrell Casey, namely being that he probably doesn't fit in any position other than the 4-3 defensive tackle. However, also like Casey, he looks like he has the potential to be one of the league's top players at that position.
Donald dominated the combine. He ran a very impressive time in the 40-yard dash (4.68 seconds) and had one of the best bench presses of the day with a total of 35 reps.
Donald was also impressive in the field drills and looks like a force at the next level. However, he still plays a position of little need, so he'll be lower on the Titans board than he will be on others teams' boards.
23. Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville
Like I said before, there's an outside chance that the Titans end up needing a safety. Calvin Pryor is probably the best one after Clinton-Dix, although he didn't have the best week at the combine.
Pryor measured in a little short at 5'11" tall. While that isn't the shortest a safety can be, it doesn't give him great size. He also didn't really distinguish himself on any of the drills, but he did look good and loose when he was on the field.
Like Clinton-Dix, he didn't do anything to help himself, but he didn't really hurt himself either.
24. Antonio Richardson, OT, Tennessee
Antonio Richardson started the combine strong, with great measurements and a very solid bench press. He didn't excel at the 40 or on the field drills, but he did really hurt himself with the team evaluations.
Richardson looked like the prototypical left tackle, with a height of 6'6" and 35-inch arms, and he started off with a great bench-press total of 36 reps, but things only went downhill from there.
Richardson didn't post a great 40 time, and he looked heavy-footed in the practice drills on the field, then his injury was discovered.
Richardson's knee injury could mean limited playing time in 2014, and that could scare off GMs when the draft rolls around. Still, he's a fantastic prospect overall, and if he falls a ways, the Titans could make a move on him and take him with a much later pick than he would've demanded if healthy.
25. Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt
Jordan Matthews was fantastic in 2013 for Vanderbilt, but there were concerns that he may not be fast enough to play at a high level in the NFL. Well, he made a great case for dismissing those kinds of concern at the combine.
Matthews had a 40 time of 4.46 seconds, a respectable time for any wide receiver, and certainly fast enough to put any concerns about separation to bed.
Matthews is a local guy, which always helps, but he's also only the third-best player at a position that the Titans don't need help at, so he won't be that high on their big board.