The Tennessee Titans entered free agency with major weaknesses at defensive end, cornerback, and outside linebacker.
Tennessee’s often hesitant front office created a big splash on day five of the signing period after agreeing to terms with Will Witherspoon, therefore eliminating the need at outside linebacker.
Yes, it isn’t actually “post” free-agency, but the meat of the free agency deals are a part of the past. At this point, there are not many transactions the Titans could pull off that would change their draft day approach.
All the same details apply to this mock as the previous edition. For the first three rounds, a “dream” and “realistic” pick will be selected. Again, the extra third round pick comes from the assumption the Titans will receive a compensatory pick resulting from the loss of Albert Haynsworth.
If you read the intro to the pre-free agency/combine mock, you’ll be screaming “hypocrite” after the third round of this version.
Dream: Derrick Morgan, Defensive End, Georgia Tech
Realistic: Brandon Graham, Defensive End, Michigan
With Jason Pierre-Paul shooting up draft boards, Derrick Morgan falling to the Tennessee at sixteen overall has become a much higher possibility. Aaron Kampman signing with Jacksonville doesn’t hurt the Titan’s cause either. The Jaguars, the favorite before free agency to select Morgan, don’t need a defensive end anymore.
Still, the pessimist in me can’t see the Titans getting that lucky. Even though Morgan doesn’t fit the needs of many teams ahead of Tennessee in the draft, he’s too talented to pass up in the middle of the first round.
Brandon Graham is the ideal replacement for Kyle Vandenbosch. Graham isn’t most gifted pass-rusher in the draft, but like Vandenbosch, he plays with a non-stop motor. Graham should be able to start right away on a very thin Tennessee defensive line.
Dream: Donovan Warren, Cornerback, Michigan
Realistic: Javier Arenas, Cornerback, Alabama
A dream has turned into reality for the Titans as cornerback.
It would be amazing to draft Donovan Warren who was a top three corner on draft boards before he ran a 4.59 forty at the combine. If Joe Hayden is projected to drop because of a bad forty time, Warren should be hurt just as much if not more. It still would be a miracle for a player who at one time was projected first round pick to drop that far.
The odds Javier Arenas falls to the Titans just keeps looking better and better. First, Kyle Wilson and Devin McCourty boost their stock with a great Senior Bowl week. Then, Chris Cook and Amari Spievey have killer combines.
Arenas seems like a perfect fit in Tennessee where the coaching staff loves physical corners who aren’t afraid to help out in run support. Out of all the great players in that dominating Alabama defense, Arenas was second on the team in tackles for loss. That’s unheard from cornerbacks.
He also fills the Titans need for a dynamic punt returner as well.
Dream: Corey Wootton, Defensive End, Northwestern
Realistic: Demaryius Thomas, Wide Receiver, Georgia Tech
Despite drafting a defensive end in the first, it is still position of need. Even with three-time Pro-Bowler Kyle Vanden Bosch in the starting lineup last season, the pass-rush was pathetic. Vandenbosch leaving creates an even bigger need for talent at the defensive end position.
Drafting Derrick Morgan and Corey Wootton in the same draft would really solidify that defensive line. Like Morgan though, the chance Wootton would drop is not likely.
This pick pretty much goes against everything I believe the Titans should do in this draft, but eliminating the need for an outside linebacker has equipped the Titans with a luxury pick in round three.
I was originally totally against drafting a receiver at all, but here is why Demaryius Thomas makes perfect sense for Tennessee. Anyone who has ever watched the Titans play knows that their offensive philosophy is all about running the football.
Thomas’s blocking for a wide receiver is unparalleled. Imagine Thomas and Kenny Britt, who is a great run blocking receiver as well, taking out defensive backs down field.
Ten to twenty-five yard runs are a result of great blocking by the offensive line. Forty plus yard runs occur when wide receivers are in the mood to pancake retreating cornerbacks.
The Titans started Justin McCareins at receiver in 2008, not because of his receiving ability, but because he was the team’s best run blocking wide out. It’s a skill most teams probably don’t put much emphases on, but the Titans definitely do.
Besides being a great blocker, I know that’s what fans really want in a receiver, Thomas has tremendous upside. At 6’3”, 224 pounds, he’s a tank on the outside. He’s a very raw talent, but if he can improve his route running, he could be a playmaker in this league.
Daniel Te'o-Nesheim, Defensive End, Washington
Obviously this pick would change is Wootton fell to the Titans in the third, but the chances of that happening aren’t good.
If stubborn, Tennessee defensive coordinator Chuck Cecil continues to only attack quarterbacks using a four-man pass-rush, the need for quality defensive lineman increases dramatically. Drafting Te’o-Nesheim in the fourth round could give the Titans the talent needed for an effective four-man-rush which has been absent since the departure of Albert Haynsworth.
Eric Olsen, Center, Notre Dame
The Titans will only re-sign Kevin Mawae to be a backup. Even then, Mawae can only play for so long.
Eric Olson can play center and guard. A player who can play every interior offensive line position like Olson is very valuable because he his versatility frees up a roster spot. Instead of needing to keep a backup tackle, guard, and center on the active roster, only a tackle and Olson are needed.
Brandon Banks, Return Specialist, Kansas State
The Titans did acquire Javier Arenas in this mock, but Arenas is primarily a punt returner. That is where he had the majority of his success in college and he doesn’t have the breakaway speed needed to be a kickoff returner in the NFL.
Brandon Banks specializes in kickoff returns. Adding Arenas and Banks would elevate Tennessee’s return team from a joke status in 2010, back to the elite reputation it earned during the Pacman era.
Micah Johnson, Inside Linebacker, Kentucky
In the pre-combine mock draft, Micah Johnson was selected by the Titans in the fifth round. After a 4.99 forty at the combine, he'll drop quite a bit.
Next offseason, David Thorton will be departing. Gerald McRath will then take over the starting outside linebacker spot depleting the Titans depth at linebacker.
Johnson should be an easy upgrade next season over anyone the Titans currently have depth wise at inside linebacker.
Cody Grimm, Safety, Virginia Tech
The Titan’s coverage teams have never been a real strong point for them.
I see all the makings of a special teams stud in Cody Grimm. He was a playmaker at linebacker in college, but will be forced to move to safety in the pros weighing 203 pounds.
Playing football at Virginia Tech, one of the best special teams units in the nation every year, only increases Grimm’s potential.
Jameson Konz, Tight End, Kent State OR Michael Smith, Halfback, Arkansas
Earlier this offseason, running back Lendale White told the media that he either wanted to start in Tennessee or be traded. There have also been trade rumors swirling around tight end Bo Scaife.
If either of those players are traded, the Titans could use their second seventh round pick to fill the empty roster spot.
Tennessee could take a chance on one of these very raw, but special athletes at their respective positions, and try to coach them to be solid contributers.