The 2010 Tennessee Titans had another disappointing season, and it led to Jeff Fisher being let go as their head coach. He had coached the team through 16 seasons, but Mike Munchak will lead the team next season.
Heading into the 2011 NFL Draft, this team is missing an identity. They don’t have a franchise quarterback, as Vince Young is supposed to be either traded or released. So the quarterback position is a major concern for the future.
Young was supposed to be the guy, but his ineffective play and constant conflicts with the coaching staff wore out his welcome. Kerry Collins should be back for at least one more season, but he is a free agent and it’s possible he could retire.
Elsewhere, Chris Johnson is one of the best running backs in the league and gives the Titans a top rushing attack.
The receiving group is pretty solid overall, with Kenny Britt becoming the top receiver the Titans envisioned when they drafted him. Nate Washington, Justin Gage and Damian Williams give the Titans solid depth.
Jared Cook is another player who is starting to play up to his potential, but the depth at this position could be weak if Bo Scaife isn’t brought back. The offensive line struggled last season, but they still have some solid talent. The offensive tackle positions are set with David Stewart and Michael Roos, but the guard and center positions could use some upgrading.
Jason Babin came out of nowhere to have an incredible season last year. He may have priced himself out of Tennessee, however, and Dave Ball and Jacob Ford are also free agents.
Derrick Morgan missed most of last season, but he has a lot of promise as a pass rusher. Jason Jones and Sen’Derrick Marks are adequate players, but the Titans are really lack an impact player in the middle of the line. The Titans could even use their first draft pick on this position.
Stephen Tulloch had a great season at the inside spot last year, but he is a free agent who will also demand a large contract. The Titans would be well served to bring him back, but he may be too expensive. Gerald McRath and Will Witherspoon are both adequate starters, but don’t be shocked if the Titans look for an upgrade here as well.
The secondary is the defense’s strongest unit, with Cortland Finnegan and Alterraun Verner leading the way at cornerback. Michael Griffin and Chris Hope are both solid starters at safety, but the depth in the secondary is something that needs to improve for next season.
1. (No. 16 overall) DE Derrick Morgan, Georgia Tech: He missed most of his first season due to injury, but he has a lot of potential. Four games played/no games started.
3. (77) WR Damian Williams, USC: He showed a lot of promise and should have a much bigger role next season. 16 GP/1 GS
3. (97) OLB Rennie Curran, Georgia: Curran has a chance to become the starter next season after a solid rookie year. 9 GP/ 0 GS
4. (104) CB Alterraun Verner, UCLA: Verner became a starter in his rookie season and played very well. 16 GP/ 12 GS
5. (148) S Robert Johnson, Utah: He didn’t get into any games in what was essentially a redshirt rookie season, but he will make a bigger impact next year. 0 GP/ 0 GS
6. (176) QB Rusty Smith, Florida Atlantic: He got into a couple of games last year, but is nowhere near ready to make a big impact. 2 GP/ 1 GS
6. (207) S Myron Rolle, Florida State: Rolle spent the entire season on the practice squad. 0 GP/ 0 GS
7. (222) WR Marc Mariani, Montana: He was an excellent return man and managed to make the Pro Bowl in his rookie season. 16 GP/ 0 GS
7. (241) DT David Howard, Brown: Howard never made it into a game for the Titans and ended up on the Raiders' practice squad. 0 GP/ 0 GS
Summary: This has the makings of a very solid draft class. Morgan has to come back strong from his injury, but he should turn into a very good pass rusher. Verner looks like he will be a long-time starter, and Williams and Curran should turn into starters. Mariani is a steal in the seventh round and he gives them an excellent weapon in the return game.
The Vince Young experiment looks like it has come to an end, and that means that the Titans are without a long-term option at quarterback.
I think that the Titans will re-sign Kerry Collins to be their starter next season, but I also feel it is necessary for them to take a franchise quarterback in the first or second round.
Collins is only a stopgap at best, and he won’t be around for too much longer.
This is a position that I think the Titans will very strongly consider in the first round.
Round 1: Cam Newton, Blaine Gabbert
Round 2: Andy Dalton, Christian Ponder, Colin Kaepernick
Round 3: Ricky Stanzi
The Titans will strongly consider both Newton and Gabbert in Round 1, and I think Gabbert would be an excellent fit for them. He can sit and learn behind Kerry Collins before taking over as the franchise starter in his second season.
The current defensive tackles leave something to be desired, and the Titans could potentially look for an upgrade early in the draft.
Jason Jones and Sen’Derrick Marks are both adequate starters, but neither of them are the impact players that the Titans need in the middle of the line. Tony Brown, Marques Douglas and Jovan Haye provide decent depth.
The depth is solid here, but the Titans very badly need a big body in the middle of the line who can wreak havoc on opposing offensive linemen.
Round 1: Marcell Dareus, Nick Fairley
Round 2: Stephen Paea, Christian Ballard, Marvin Austin, Jurrell Casey, Drake Nevis
Round 3: Jarvis Jenkins, Kenrick Ellis
Round 4: Lawrence Guy, Cedric Thornton
Dareus and Fairley will most likely be gone by the time the Titans select in Round 1, but they would be excellent draft picks for the Titans if they are available.
Guys like Paea or Casey in Round 2 are very likely picks and would make an instant impact on the defensive line in their rookie seasons.
This isn’t the biggest of the Titans needs, as both Will Witherspoon and Gerald McGrath are adequate starters. Still, neither one of them are impact players.
The Titans could be missing an impact linebacker next year if Stephen Tulloch isn’t resigned, so they may take the best linebacker available to help improve the defense.
The Titans will also probably look at taking an outside linebacker in the middle or late rounds, as they will look to improve the depth at this position in the offseason.
Round 1: Bruce Carter, Mason Foster
Round 2: Mark Herzlich, Colin McCarthy
Round 3: K.J. Wright, Lawrence Wilson
I think a player like Wright or Wilson would be great fits for the Titans in the middle rounds, as they provide depth and they could probably challenge for a starting spot right away.
If they want an impact linebacker, they could consider Carter or Foster in Round 2.
Jake Scott is pretty solid at one offensive guard position, but Leroy Harris could stand to be upgraded on the other side. He is currently a free agent, and I don’t expect to see him return in 2011.
Depth is also an issue here because the Titans basically have no talent at the backup guard positions.
I think the Titans may end up using a third-round pick on this position because the talent at guard drops off sharply once you get past the third round.
Round 2: Clint Boling, Rodney Hudson, Danny Watkins
Round 3: Will Rackley, John Moffitt
Round 5: David Arkin, Andrew Jackson
Round 6: Zach Hurd, Bryant Browning
Players like Boling or Hudson would be instant upgrades along the offensive line, but I doubt the Titans will want to use such a high pick on a guard with so many other pressing needs.
Jackson or Arkin would be solid long-term prospects in the later rounds, but then the Titans may have to re-sign Harris to start at guard next year.
Jason Babin, Dave Ball and Jacob Ford are all solid players, and the Titans will also have Derrick Morgan returning from injury.
However, Babin, Ball and Ford are all free agents, and I’m not sure how many of them will be back. Babin will likely demand a huge contract, and I would shy away from that if I were the Titans' brass.
Ball and Ford could both be back, but I think they are better suited to being rotational players rather than starters.
Round 1: Da’Quan Bowers, Cameron Jordan, Robert Quinn
Round 2: Brooks Reed, Jabaal Sheard
Round 3: Sam Acho, Jeremy Beal, Greg Romeus
Round 4: Cliff Matthews, Ryan Winterswyk
I doubt the Titans will use their first pick on a defensive end, but if they feel like they won’t resign Babin next season, they may want to take his replacement.
However, a starting defensive end duo of, say, Bowers and Morgan would wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks for years to come.
Center: Eugene Amano really struggled last season, and the Titans could be looking for an upgrade.
Cornerback: The top three players are solid at this position, but the cupboard is pretty bare after Cortland Finnegan, Alterraun Verner and Jason McCourty.
Tight End: Bo Scaife is a free agent who most likely won’t be back, but the depth will now be very thin behind Jared Cook.
The main thing the Titans need to address this offseason is finding a long-term franchise quarterback.
The Titans will strongly consider a quarterback with their first pick, but if they miss out on Gabbert and Newton, then it is very likely they will try to trade down to take another quarterback in the later part of Round 1.
The defense also has some concerns moving forward, and the biggest question marks lie on the defensive line. The Titans are in serious need of an upgrade at the defensive tackle position, and they could also have a serious need at the defensive end position if Jason Babin isn’t brought back.
The Titans have enough talent to compete next season, but they absolutely must find a long-term option for the quarterback position.