Tennessee Titans Draft Stock Watch: 8 Players Rising and Falling

Chad Minton@@chad_mintonCorrespondent IMarch 26, 2014

Tennessee Titans Draft Stock Watch: 8 Players Rising and Falling

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    It remains anybody's guess as to what the Tennessee Titans will do with their 11th overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft. Even after free agency, it's still unclear which way they should go.

    However, there were some moves made in free agency that narrowed it down to a few positions that the Titans should focus on.

    Since the Titans don't currently have a third-round pick, the first two rounds will be critical for the team to make smart moves.

    Here are the prospects on the Titans' draft board that are currently rising or falling with the draft just a little over a month away.

Rising: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State

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    The loss of Alterraun Verner in free agency opens up the door for the Titans to take a cornerback in the first round. There are a couple solid cornerback prospects with first-round grades, according to CBSSports.com.

    No one was really talking about Justin Gilbert as a possibility for the Titans even a month ago, but he makes a lot of sense right now. Matt Ufford of SBNation.com believes that Gilbert is a top cornerback in the draft class.

    He had a huge 2013 season with Oklahoma State, snatching seven interceptions, and also posted strong numbers at the NFL Scouting Combine.

    Even though Coty Sensabaugh and Blidi Wreh-Wilson figure to be viable replacements for Verner, the Titans can't pass up on taking a possible shutdown NFL cornerback if one is available. It would make forgetting about Verner a very easy task.

    If a few of the big pass-rushers fall off the board before the Titans get their first pick, then Gilbert could end up becoming the newest member of the team.

Falling: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan

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    This is not a knock on Taylor Lewan as an NFL prospect, but he makes less sense for the Titans after the signing of Michael Oher. Without the Oher signing, Lewan would be near the top of the team's current draft board. Now that Oher will replace David Stewart, though, the Titans can't use a first-round pick on a depth player.

    Tennessee has to go out and get an impact player who can start in Week 1. Lewan wouldn't have the opportunity to make that impact lining up behind Oher.

    Offensive tackle is still a position of need when it comes to depth, but it's not needed in the first round at 11th overall.

    Rob Rang's mock draft on CBSSports.com has Lewan going to the Buffalo Bills at ninth overall, meaning there's a good chance that the Titans won't have a chance at him anyway.

Rising: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA

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    Anthony Barr's stock continues to surge upward for the Titans. He fits defensive coordinator Ray Horton's 3-4 scheme perfectly with the speed that he brings to a pass rush.

    The Titans will almost certainly take Barr if he falls into their grasp at 11th overall. He has the raw talent to make an impact immediately in Week 1.

    He doesn't make sense for everyone, but he makes total sense for the Titans.

    Dustin Hockensmith of PennLive.com writes that Barr could become an impact pass-rusher in certain situations and listed him as the top prospect for the Titans out of all the possibilities in the first round. 

    Barr's stock is about as high as it can get right now for Tennessee. In fact, it's at a boiling point, and the Titans have to be foaming at the mouth to pick him to add some firepower to their new defense.

Falling: Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri

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    If the Titans make a move to bolster their pass rush, it's looking less likely that it will come in the form of a defensive end.

    The team managed to re-sign Ropati Pitoitua and still has an improving Derrick Morgan. Lining up behind them is Lavar Edwards, and we're still not sure if Kamerion Wimbley will be retained in a defensive scheme that fits his strengths better than previous seasons.

    Kony Ealy is rated as a second- to third-round prospect, according to NFL.com. The Titans can't afford to take that big of a risk. He is one of the top-rated defensive end prospects in this draft, but he would be reach at the No. 11 pick overall. He does not make any logical sense for the Titans despite his high ceiling.

Rising: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M

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    The idea of the Titans taking a wide receiver in the first round was pretty much unheard of just a month ago. After all, the team took guys like Kendall Wright and Justin Hunter early in the two previous drafts.

    However, there is still some uncertainty at the position once you get past Nate Washington. He fits in as the No. 3 receiver, but who does the team go to after that? The Titans are kind of relying on two talented but young receivers to lead the way.

    If some of the Titans' top choices fall off the board early, don't be surprised if the offensive-minded Ken Whisenhunt goes for another receiver.

    Mike Evans is projected to go to the Titans in Dane Brugler's latest mock draft on CBSSports.com.

    Evans' physical frame is his selling point and makes him a great replacement for Kenny Britt. Other options would have to fall off the board first to make this scenario logical, but his stock has definitely risen on the Titans' big board.

Falling: C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    This isn't a question of if C.J. Mosley is a top-rated linebacker prospect, because he most certainly is. The question is if he makes sense for the Titans.

    At one point, Mosley was the most popular pick for the Titans in the first round. With what they are implementing in defensive coordinator Ray Horton's new defense, though, Mosley really doesn't fit in like he did early on.

    If the team was sticking with a 4-3 defense for next season, then Mosley would make total sense.

    Also, the Titans still need to add to their ability to rush the passer.

    Per Jim Corbett of USA Today, Hall of Fame linebacker Dick Butkus sees Mosley as being a great middle linebacker for a team that runs a 4-3 defense. He will be an excellent addition to the team that drafts him, but it most likely won't be the Titans. Sometimes, the pieces just don't fit.

Rising: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State

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    Another cornerback who should be climbing up the Titans' draft board currently is Darqueze Dennard out of Michigan State. Dennard is currently rated as the No. 1 cornerback in the draft class on NFLDraftScout.com. It's really between him and Gilbert as to who the top-rated cornerback is, but it's splitting hairs on which one is better.

    If the Titans' top priority is to add a physical cornerback on the outside to replace Verner, then Dennard is a great option. They still have a more pressing need on getting a pass-rusher, but Dennard would be a nice backup plan.

    Dennard likely wasn't even on the radar for the Titans before free agency hit. It comes down to how much faith the team has in its current cornerbacks, but Dennard's stock has definitely risen over the last month.

Falling: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville

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    Usually, pro days are a safe way for a prospect to reinforce his talents for scouts while in his comfort zone. That wasn't necessarily the case for Teddy Bridgewater at his pro day.

    The Titans can't afford to whiff on another quarterback early in a draft, and Bridgewater's shaky pro day just leaves a sour taste in deciding which direction to go for the Titans. It doesn't mean that he is doomed for failure in the NFL, but a bad pro day could be just enough to persuade the Titans to look elsewhere.

    Teams that are desperate for a quarterback and have a clear-cut need for one should still be interested in Bridgewater. However, for a team like the Titans, waiting until later in the draft to take a project quarterback makes more logical sense.

    If the Titans were ever hoping that Bridgewater would somehow fall out of the top 10 picks, they're probably not hoping as much now. Taking a quarterback as an insurance plan can wait until after the first round.