NFL Draft 2011 Recap: Tennessee Titans Want to Dominate the Defensive Line Again

Eli NachmanyCorrespondent IIIMay 5, 2011

BERKELEY, CA - OCTOBER 3: Everson Griffen #93 of the USC Trojans celebratres with teammate Jurrell Casey #91 after a sack against the California Golden Bears at Memorial Stadium on October 3, 2009 in Berkeley, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

The words "back in the day" are manipulated and abused by many to represent a time which was simpler and therefore, to some, better.

For the Tennessee Titans, however, the words truly signify a time that was better.

The Titans, at one point, were a preeminent team in the trenches.

This is a team that, in 2003, boasted a defensive line with Albert Haynesworth and Jevon Kearse next to one another.

Those Titans, those "back in the day" Titans with a fear-striking defensive front, went 12-4.

Flashing forward to 2011, the Titans are coming off of a season in which the team finished a disappointing 6-10.

Certainly the offensive pieces were in place; Vince Young was a talented, if volatile quarterback, but the team should have been able to at least overcome their quarterback's immaturity to have a .500 season.

The Titans received adequate play from their defensive line, but 2010 proved that the Titans need more than just adequacy in the trenches for the team to be a dominating force.

Many mock drafts had Nick Fairley going to the Tennessee Titans, and I'll admit that I bought the hype of Tennessee seeing a second Albert Haynesworth in the young defensive tackle.

As the unpredictable nature of the draft would have it, the Titans went with Jake Locker instead, a justifiable move as I state in another article.

The Titans may have passed on defensive line help in the first round, but they would not be stopped in the third round.

The Titans pulled the trigger on underrated Jurrell Casey out of USC.

Casey is a perfect fit as a defensive tackle in a 4-3 defense, and was exceptional last season, posting 67 tackles and 9 tackles for loss.

The Titans have covered their tracks in case one of their current defensive linemen bolts for free agency when the labor situation is resolved.

Casey played good competition in the Pac-10, and seemed to have been overlooked in what was an abnormally strong defensive linemen class.

With 12 defensive linemen picked in the first round alone, it is easy to see how Casey fell through the cracks (if a 300-pound man can fall through cracks).

After adding a young defensive tackle to the fold, the Titans boast a good, young rotation of linemen with Derrick Morgan entering his sophomore year and Casey figuring to get immediate playing time.

Tennessee sandwiched the Casey pick with Akeem Ayers and Colin McCarthy.

Both are better players than their draft slot, and will figure to take pressure off of the four down linemen in Tennessee.

Casey and Morgan figure to be in that mix, and the Titans also brought in interesting players in Karl Klug of Iowa and Zach Clayton of Auburn.

Luckily for Clayton, his former defensive line coach at Auburn is now working with the Titans, which should make for an easy transition.

As for Klug, I've only heard good reports about the linemen, and he figures to give the Titans value for his draft slot.

The Titans upgraded the depth and skill of their defensive line.

While they may not have pre-eminent stars up front just yet, the Titans only need more time to return to dominance in the trenches.

The Titans only need more time to return 'back to the old days'.

With a good draft this year, it is entirely possible.