Who Are the Experts Predicting to Tennessee Titans in 1st Round of NFL Draft?
One of the things that makes discussing the NFL draft so fun is all of the mock drafts that flood the media each offseason.
In the case of the Tennessee Titans, there is with draft less than a month away, a wide range of opinion on whom the team will take with the 11th overall selection.
A lot of it comes down to how the first 10 picks unfold to have any idea at who will even be available for the Titans when they are on clock.
Here is what five experts are projecting the Titans will do with their first-round pick.
Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
Mike Evans has suddenly become a trendy pick for the Titans, and taking a wide receiver makes way more sense than it did just a few months ago.
Dane Brugler of NFLDraftScout.com has the Titans going with Evans, due in large part to the offensive-minded Ken Whisenhunt taking over as head coach.
Evans would seemingly fit in as a solid No.4 receiver on the Titans behind Kendall Wright, Justin Hunter and veteran Nate Washington. He would also seemingly be a nice replacement for Kenny Britt, who clearly no longer wanted to be in a Titans uniform.
Giving quarterback Jake Locker as many weapons as possible on offense is not a bad draft strategy, as long as it's for the kind of high-caliber offensive threat that Evans is expected to be at the next level.
If the Titans are lucky enough to get a chance to take Evans (like Brugler is predicting in his latest mock draft), it wouldn't be a bad pick at all. The receiver corps would be solidified with the addition of such a big target.
Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
The most popular pick by far for the Titans to take in mock drafts has been UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr.
One such mock which has Tennessee taking Barr was put forth by Charles Davis of NFL.com.
Davis praises Barr as one of his "favorite players in the draft" and expects that the Titans will add a great pass-rushing threat to their new 3-4 hybrid defense.
The Titans definitely have to get better at rushing the passer in 2014, but the work the team did in restocking the position in free agency makes drafting a linebacker not as big a need as it once was.
Barr might still be a smart pick if a couple other choices fall off the board first. He would be an instant contributor on defense in certain packages.
However, taking Barr shouldn't be the top choice for the Titans anymore. They have more pressing needs after the moves they made in free agency. It's also highly probable that Barr goes before the Titans' first pick at No. 11 overall.
Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
This scenario as not as farfetched as some people may think. If Teddy Bridgewater somehow falls into the grasp of the Titans at the 11th pick, then the Titans could change their plans in the first round, according to Mike Florio's mock draft on NBCSports.com.
The possibility of the Titans taking a quarterbacks reinforces the idea that Tennessee really could go in so many different directions in the first round. It makes projecting what the Titans will do a tall order.
Many people aren't anticipating the Titans taking a quarterback because, frankly, any of the top quarterbacks are unlikely to slip out of the top 10. There are just too many teams ahead of the Titans in the draft order who are desperate for a quarterback.
However, we've seen far crazier things on draft day, and none of these quarterbacks are mortal locks to be franchise quarterbacks. It could allow a guy like Bridgewater to unexpectedly fall to the 11th pick. If that happens, then you couldn't blame the Titans if they were to pull the trigger and have a backup plan for Locker.
Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
It's easy to point out cornerback as a top need after the departure of Alterraun Verner in free agency, and Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times sees the Titans filling that void by taking Darqueze Dennard.
Farmer also said that it would be tough to pass up Anthony Barr if he's still on the board.
Dennard would most likely be a Week 1 starter for the Titans, but where would that leave two other very capable cornerbacks currently on the Titans roster? Both Coty Sensabaugh and Blidi Wreh-Wilson still have high expectations for making an impact on this defense.
This pick would make more sense if the Titans weren't already so high on their current crop of returning corners. Addressing cornerback later in the draft for depth seems more logical than using that first-round pick to add another player to a crowded position.
There will be other players still on the board who will fill bigger roster needs than Dennard.
Dee Ford, OLB/DE, Auburn
Most mock draft's have embraced the idea of the Titans taking Anthony Barr, but Eric Edholm's projection on Yahoo! Sports has the Titans taking a different linebacker/defensive end at 11th overall: Auburn's Dee Ford.
This prediction is in the minority. However, Ford does fit the mold of what the Titans will try to do with their hybrid 3-4 defense. He would most likely play only in certain scenarios, but taking a part-time player at 11th overall seems like a reach.
Ford is a guy who can come in and instantly bolster the Titans' pass rush—much like Barr would. However, Barr has a lot more upside than Ford.
If the Titans are absolutely married to the idea of getting a speed-rushing linebacker, then taking Ford might happen if Barr falls off the board. However, I would see the Titans taking the best player available before reaching for Ford that early.