Ranking Tennessee Titans' Biggest Needs to Address in 2014 NFL Draft
Another installment of the NFL draft is about to be upon us, and each team's biggest needs are starting to become more clear.
The Tennessee Titans are entering a year of uncertainty with a new coaching regime in place to go along with a lot of new faces on offense and defense.
Every NFL team has a list of needs, and the needs for the Titans are at a wide range. Ranking those needs are a fun debate to have, so let's dive into the top-five needs for the Titans.
No.5: Tight End
The Titans virtually have no reliable help for Delanie Walker at the moment. Craig Stevens was non-existent last season, and it's unsure how he'll respond in 2014 as the backup.
There should be little faith in Taylor Thompson panning out as he's shown really no progression.
It wouldn't be a bad idea for the Titans to look into drafting an athletic, receiving tight end at some point. If the Titans are intrigued enough at the idea of drafting a receiving tight end to give Jake Locker another big target, then Eric Ebron out of North Carolina will probably be available for them in the first round.
If a few of the Titans' first choices fall off the board, then the Titans could easily end up taking Ebron to add to their passing attack.
This isn't a desperate need at the moment, but it cracks the list as a need that should be addressed with one of their six current picks.
No. 4: Wide Receiver
The Titans have paid a lot of attention to wide receiver in the past two drafts, taking both Kendall Wright and Justin Hunter. Both of those picks seem to be working out nicely so far.
They could conceivably to do that again to help replace Kenny Britt, who left for Jeff Fisher's Rams.
The Titans probably won't go get a crack at Mike Evans in the first round, but it would be questionable to pass on him if he slips to them at 11th overall. He brings the physical frame to the position that the Titans could use to complement their current group of receivers.
However, the Titans should definitely look for a receiver to develop in the later part of the draft. They just don't have enough with Wright, Hunter and Nate Washington as the only proven guys on the roster.
This need obviously wouldn't be on the radar if the Titans could have retained Alterraun Verner. Even so, this still isn't the most pressing need. The question is if the Titans have enough faith in what they currently have.
Since the Titans already have two serviceable cornerbacks in Blidi Wreh-Wilson and Coty Sensabaugh, it doesn't seem like it should be a big enough need to use a first-round pick.
However, finding depth for the position is certainly something the Titans should do.
This scenario could certainly work out if the Titans go for the best-player-available approach. They would be getting a guy in Gilbert who would have a great chance at emerging as the starter opposite of Jason McCourty in 2014.
It's still not the biggest need thanks to how well Sensabaugh played in the opportunities he was given last season.
No.2: Running Back
The Titans currently have a backfield full of complementary guys, but not a single guy that can really be a feature running back.
Since running backs don't hold nearly as much value as the once did in the draft, this need doesn't have to be addressed in the first round. The Titans can easily end up finding their guy with their second- or fourth-round picks.
Tre Mason is a popular choice right now and could maybe be a possibility in the second round. He could come in and solidify the Titans' rushing attack, and free up newly acquired Dexter McCluster to be used in other creative ways.
With the departure of Chris Johnson, the Titans need to try to find a guy that can be depended on to carry the load for years to come. These second-tier guys like Shonn Greene and McCluster are nice options, but they're not guys that can be relied upon as consistent grinders during a full 16-game season.
Also, McCluster is more of an all-around player on offense. He's not meant to be the top guy at running back. You can't have your top running back lining up in the slot and returning kicks on special teams if he's meant to be your main choice at running back.
Furthermore, Greene is purely a 10-15 carries-per-game type of guy. There's also health concerns with Greene, leaving the Titans in need of one more piece that can really lead the charge in the near future.
The Titans need to quickly forget about Johnson, and go find another rising star in the draft.
No.1: Outside Linebacker
There's a reason why Anthony Barr is the most popular pick for the Titans in mock drafts. He makes the most sense for a defense that will need as many pass rushers as possible switching to an aggressive 3-4 defense.
The ceiling for Barr is extremely high considering the talent he's already showing despite only being two years removed from playing running back. He only figures to get better once he gets more coaching and experience at outside linebacker.
Barr makes a lot of sense for the Titans according to John Glennon of the Tennessean, including Barr having experience playing under current Titans linebackers coach Lou Spanos.
The Titans may seem to be loaded at linebacker currently, but they're still short on proven pass rushers on the outside. You hope that Akeem Ayers can bounce back from a disappointing 2013 season, but it's very uncertain he's going to work out.
If Barr is taken before the Titans pick, then the Titans might have to find help in this area in the second round. Kyle Van Noy out of BYU might be a possibility as a backup plan in the second round.
The free-agency addition of Shaun Phillips will help, but it's not enough. Barr would make total sense here if he's available, and he would have the potential of transforming this defense into a ferocious one in 2014 to help offset a quarterback that resides in the division, Andrew Luck.