NFL Draft 2012: 10 Players Tennessee Titans Could Draft
There are a lot of holes on the Titans squad: interior O-line, defensive line, linebacker, strong safety and wide receiver are all areas that could use improvement.
So who would they pick right now if it came to it? Here are some college stars the Titans might be looking at for the first couple of rounds.
1. Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina
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Justin Blackmon has been explosive in both games this season. Jeffery, on the other hand, has been clutch, but hasn't been as big a part of the Gamecock offense as he should.
This means he could fall outside of the first five or six picks and could be available for the Titans.
However, there's almost no way that Jeffery falls too far beyond the top 10. He's 6'4" and had a phenomenal sophomore year.
Kenny Britt was one of the few bright spots against the Jaguars, but he's the only stud receiver on Tennessee's roster. Adding another one would make Jake Locker's transition to the starting role a whole lot easier.
2. Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
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Of course, Jeffery could still surpass Blackmon by the end of the season. After all, we're only two weeks in.
Blackmon is a big, physical, punishing receiver and has jets where his feet should be—so if he manages to fall to the Titans, they should take him.
Blackmon would pair up with Kenny Britt to give the Titans two deep threats that would give corners and free safeties headaches.
3. Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
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The cornerback class of 2012 is one of the best in recent memory, and right now the head of the class seems to be Alabama standout Dre Kirkpatrick.
Tennessee is set at one corner position with Cortland Finnegan, but he becomes a free agent at the end of this year. Even if he stays, upgrading the second corner spot could be a good move in an increasingly pass-heavy NFL.
At 6'3" and 190 lbs., Kirkpatrick has the size and talent to be a shutdown corner. The Titans secondary could certainly use some help, so if Kirkpatrick slips this far, the Titans may pick him up.
4. Casey Hayward, CB, Vanderbilt
Then again, since the corner class is so good, it might benefit the Titans to wait until the second or third round to grab a corner that, in any other year, might've gone much earlier.
If they do, why not keep it local with hometown hero Casey Hayward?
Despite playing for SEC bottom-dweller Vanderbilt, Hayward has been a standout player his whole career. He is a ball hawk, grabbing six interceptions in 2010, and was second in the nation with pass breakups.
Vanderbilt looks much better this year, and while they still may not gain bowl eligibility, Hayward will continue to shine.
I would be happy if the Titans decided to keep him in Nashville by selecting him on the Day 2 of the draft.
5. Donte Paige-Moss, OLB, North Carolina
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Akeem Ayers has been a stud in the preseason, and looked great against the Jaguars as well. The Titans have certainly found their outside linebacker of the future.
Colin McCarthy is showing promise already as well and will likely be ready to take over for Barrett Ruud in the middle when his contract runs out this year.
However, the Titans still could use an upgrade at the other outside linebacker spot; Paige-Moss would be an ideal fit. While his talents would make him ideal for a 3-4 defense, the Titans are trying to get bigger at linebacker, so his 260-pound frame would fit perfectly in their 4-3 as well.
With Jason Jones and Derrick Morgan injured, the Titans have to be strong at outside linebacker to keep a good edge rush. Paige-Moss could end up being the best choice for their draft position.
6. Keenan Robinson, OLB, Texas
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A prototypical 4-3 outside linebacker, Robinson is both fast and physical. Despite playing for an overrated team, he is still a quality player.
With the teams that Texas will face in the offensively-stacked Big 12, Robinson could have a good enough year to jump up into the top 10. If not, he could still be on the board when the Titans pick in the second round.
If the Titans grab a wide receiver or a corner in the first round, Robinson may be the pick in the second round.
7. Kenny Tate, SS, Maryland
I've mentioned before that Maryland is my sleeper pick to win the ACC. Their linebacker, Kenny Tate, is much like his team: people have taken notice, but they don't realize just how good he is yet.
Tate plays as a linebacker, so drafting him for strong safety could scare teams from drafting him as early as his talent should have him going. That means the Titans could maybe grab him as late as the third round.
With Chris Hope continuing to be a borderline player and Jordan Babineaux signed to a one-year deal, adding a strong safety could be a prudent move. No strong safety is good enough this year to take on Day 1 and the Titans have bigger concerns they could address in the second round.
If Kenny Tate is available in the third round, the Titans should take him.
8. David DeCastro, G, Stanford
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I'll start by saying that the chances of David DeCastro being available at all in the second round are slim to none. But if he is, he should be the pick regardless of who is available (almost).
Despite looking good in the preseason, the Titans interior line was horrible against the Jaguars. Leroy Harris is not the answer at left guard and Jake Scott is getting older, so replacing Harris should be a priority if his play doesn't improve dramatically.
DeCastro has done an outstanding job blocking for Andrew Luck, and though he hasn't yet been tested this season, there's no reason to think he'll drop off.
If he continues his strong play, then he'd be an outstanding NFL guard.
9. Kevin Zeitler, G, Wisconsin
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This year, I think Zeitler will be that guy who has a quietly good season, then blows people away at the combine. He is a big part of Wisconsin's great rushing attack, as he can open up holes for Montee Ball all day.
At 6'4" and 312 lbs., Zeitler is the perfect size to take over at either guard position as soon as he comes into the NFL. His run-blocking ability would be much appreciated by Chris Johnson.
With the team Wisconsin has this year, he'll certainly be on NFL scouts' radars by the end of the season. I wouldn't be surprised if he ended up a second-rounder.
10. Jared Crick, DE/DT, Nebraska
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Jared Crick is a divisive prospect: to some (myself included) he's a top 10 pick; to others, he's a late first/early second-rounder.
Crick is no Ndamukong Suh, but he is a great player. He had 10.5 sacks in 2009 when playing alongside Suh, then started his 2010 a little slower. He ended up with 9.5 sacks (seven in the last eight games), 12.5 tackles for a loss, and 70 tackles in 2010.
Crick is a great fit for the Titans because he could function, essentially, as a more talented Karl Klug.
At 6'6" and 285 lbs., he can play either end or tackle, and with Derrick Morgan and Jason Jones so injury-prone, the Titans could use help at either position.
Crick could end up being a top 10 pick, and if he is, he'd fit the Titans perfectly.