The Tennessee Titans were one of the lesser talented teams headed into the 2015 NFL season, and it showed up, considering this team in the weak AFC South could only muster three wins, and after selecting second overall in last year’s draft, they will be the first ones on the clock on April 28th.
With no real favorites to dominate the AFC South, Tennessee should capitalize early on one of the easiest divisions in all of football, and try to bring Marcus Mariota some playoff experience in the second year of his hopeful career. They couldn’t lure any of the top free agents to sign with the team this March, but they were able to give up virtually nothing for a running back who led the league in rushing just two years ago, hoping DeMarco Murray’s experience in Dallas will trump his lost year in Philadelphia.
Considering none of the better free agents have any reason to consider Tennessee over the next few seasons, the Titans must rebuild when it comes to the draft. And with a team who finished 3-13, what are their biggest needs to fill before this squad takes the field in September?
The Titans have spent multiple picks the past few years on 300-pound men to protect their quarterback and to help their running game flourish. They’ve selected first round talent such as Taylor Lewan and Chance Warmack, along with using a 4th-round selection to take Brian Schwenke. However, Marcus Mariota was sacked 38 times last season, the same number Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was brought down, and we’re talking of how the offensive line held the Patriots back. Tennessee has more problems than their offensive front, but a game is won or lost in the trenches. When it comes down to protecting your franchise quarterback and giving DeMarco Murray an offensive line that was nonexistent for him with the Eagles, offensive tackle is the obvious choice in Nashville.
The obvious pick for Tennessee is to take Laremy Tunsil from Ole Miss, a player you can’t miss on. I believe the Titans should explore other options, but they will be drafting the barely legal Tunsil in April.
If you look at any of the top teams in the NFL over recent memory, they’ve either had an elite quarterback or an elite defense. Having one or the other can bring a lot of success to an organization, which is why Tennessee should invest in their defense this draft. Tennessee has to go up against a surging and youthful Jacksonville offense, they have to go up against Andrew Luck and the Colts offense, and who knows what Brock Osweiler and Lamar Miller will be able to do with DeAndre Hopkins on ship, who tore up the league last season. After going 2015 without a player in double-digits with sacks, Tennessee must invest in this pass rush.
Assuming the Titans take Laremy Tunsil at number one overall and don’t trade down and settle or one of the top defensive linemen in this draft, they need somewhere else to go in round two. Emmanuel Ogbah, the defensive end from Oklahoma State, might be their best option in a thick defensive line class. Ogbah’s projected in the late first round, and may go early second, so we’ll see if the Titans are able to snag him or not.
If we’re trying to play copycat and see what’s worked for the top tier teams over the last few seasons, the position of cornerback has been a resounding force for the teams. Richard Sherman, Darrelle Revis, Aqib Talib over recent years for title runs, and then also guys like Josh Norman help give their offensively-challenged teams a chance by shutting down the opposing team’s #1 receiving threat. While looking at some of the players Tennessee are forced to guard, skimming through the list of DeAndre Hopkins, Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns, TY Hilton, should convince anyone in their right mind that cornerback must be addressed.
If the Titans elect to pass up on Tunsil and trade their pick away, depending on how far they go down the board, would likely lose out on Jalen Ramsey, who could also fill a need at safety. If Tennessee went that route, they could only hope Vernon Hargreaves is still on the board, though Eli Apple or Mackensie Alexander should be just as good. However, if the Titans end up taking Tunsil, they could be choosing from an interesting pool of corners on Day 2. Names that come to mind are Virginia’s Maurice Canady, Minnesota’s Eric Murray, or taking Kendall Fuller from Virginia Tech at the top of the second round over a pass rusher. If I’m Tennessee, I’d be content taking my chances on Eric Murray with a third round pick.
After protecting Marcus Mariota, and once they’ve improved their defense, then Tennessee can look towards drafting a young wide receiver. The leading pass catcher for the Titans last season was tight end Delanie Walker with 94 catches, which is good, but there’s a huge dropoff after that, with Kendall Wright and Harry Douglas each having 36 catches on the season and totaling 5 touchdowns together. The production of Douglas and Wright simply won’t cut it, and as high as I am on Dorial Green-Beckham, the 6-foot-5 monster entering his second season needs someone to take the pressure off of him, who can develop along with him, and can be the next “A-Team” that the Jaguars have equipped.
Imagining all the top receivers gone by Saturday afternoon, Day 3 of the draft, and assuming a team reaches on Braxton Miller, the Titans still have some promising talent to look at anywhere from rounds four through seven. I like the potential of players like Aaron Burbridge (Michigan State), Bralon Addison (Oregon), Paul McRoberts (Southeast Missouri State), Charone Peake (Clemson), Jalin Marshall (Ohio State), and so many others. I wouldn’t be caught off guard if one of these players are trying to find a cheaper home around the Titans team facility.
Now you’ve seen the possible selections the Titans could make to hopefully better their team in the coming years. Who do you think, beyond the first round, Tennessee should look at?