Titans Must Draft Handcuff for Shonn Greene Following Chris Johnson's Release

Sean ODonnellContributor IIIApril 5, 2014

NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 14:  Shonn Greene #23 of the Tennessee Titans runs with the ball during the game against the Indianapolis Colts at LP Field on November 14, 2013 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Now that Chris Johnson has been released by the Tennessee Titans, the team's running back corps is rather thin.

At this time, between-the-tackles back Shonn Greene is the Titans' best option going forward. That's not exactly comforting.

Last season—Greene's first in Tennessee—the back rushed 77 times for 295 yards, with an average of 3.8 yards per carry, and four touchdowns.

Having averaged less than 4.0 yards per carry since 2011, Greene is not the game-breaking threat who the Titans need.

Yes, he can still produce in a complementary role as a chain-moving, goal-line back; however, he desperately needs a speedy, change-of-pace option in the backfield.

Remember the "Smash and Dash" days of LenDale White and Johnson? Well, the Titans need to go retro and bring it back.

With Jackie Battle and Leon Washington as the only other two true running backs on the Titans' roster, and Dexter McCluster figuring to share responsibilities at wide receiver, this team will need to look to the draft to get that done.

So, who figures to be a great handcuff for Greene going forward?

That would be former Auburn standout Tre Mason.

Heralded as one of the draft's top running back prospects, Mason was given a second-round grade by CBSSports.com. If he lasts to Tennessee's 42nd-overall selection, that would be the team's best-case scenario.

Mason is a smaller running back, standing at 5'8" and weighing 207 pounds; however, he runs with a nice, low pad level and doesn't shy away from contact.

Quick on his feet, Mason has a great one-cut ability to change direction in the backfield and accelerate to leave defenders in the dust.

Running at high speeds is not Mason's only endearing attribute. He's known to be reliable in pass protection and has good hands coming out of the backfield on short swing routes and screens. He's already handled a heavy workload at Auburn, and his durability is not in question.

NFL.com had this analysis of Mason:

The SEC Player of the Year, Mason is a compactly built, nifty-footed runner with a balanced skill set to merit 20 touches per game at the next level. Fits in multiple schemes and has the chops to make an impact as a rookie.

Despite running a 4.50-second 40-yard dash at the combine, Mason's high degree of football speed was on display during many stellar performances at Auburn.

During his pro day, Mason looked sharp during on-field drills. Take a look for yourself:

After his pro day, Mason was asked what kind of back he is by Charles Goldberg of AuburnTigers.com. Here's how he responded:

I like to be very versatile. I want to be able to catch the ball out of the backfield, run the ball in and outside the tackles, between the tackles and outside the tackles. I just like to be able to showcase all my skills and be an all-around playmaker.

The idea of a bruiser (Greene) and a home-run threat (Mason) in the backfield together would be a sight for sore eyes for the Titans coaching staff, players and fans alike.

It's time to trigger that famous phrase from Terrell Owens: "Get your popcorn ready."


All scouting combine measurements and results courtesy of NFL.com's results tracker.