2013 NFL Draft Team Needs: Tennessee Titans
The Tennessee Titans were a confusing puzzle in 2012, as they beat teams they probably shouldn’t have, and got smoked by teams they probably should have been able to beat. They were a different team when Jake Locker was under center, compared to Matt Hasselbeck, but no matter who was throwing passes, one thing was fairly clear: they weren’t very good.
They could have been a lot worse, though, and finished 6-10 with some promise in the form of Locker – if he gets better, that is. Some aren’t sold on Locker, but I still think he has the talent and time to mature into a special player. While the jury is out when it comes to him, the Titans could do him a big favor by adding another weapon and protecting him better. It wouldn’t hurt to improve a defense that gave up a league-leading 471 points, either.
Here’s a breakdown of Tennessee’s biggest issues on both sides of the ball, and what they can do to get better as we head into the 2013 NFL Draft:
Offensive Needs: OL, TE, RB
Chris Johnson may not be as consistent as he used to be, but he didn’t get off to two horrendous starts in back to back season on accident. Tennessee needs to bring in young competition for both guard spots, and probably center, as well. This group showed some improvement over the course of the year, but Steve Hutchinson isn’t getting any younger and fresh talent can only make them better. Alabama’s Chance Warmack looks to be the best value when the Titans get their first pick at at number 10 overall. He’s a major game-changer and would go a long way to help shore up the interior of the o-line.
Jared Cook has great size and athleticism, but he’s insanely inconsistent and has expressed a desire to leave the Titans. He just may get his wish via free agency in 2013, which could force Tennessee to bring in another young tight end to take over. They’re fairly thin at the position behind Cook. Florida’s Jordan Reed could be worth a look in the middle rounds.
Running back isn’t a problem area at the moment, as Chris Johnson returned to form and looked more like himself during the second half of the year. If the Titans can just beef up the offensive line a bit, I think they still have one of the better backs in the NFL. With that said, Johnson has certainly had his bouts with consistency the past two years, and due to a hefty salary, could be inching closer to a day where we see him get cut or traded. Even with that aside, the Titans have no real backup plan beyond CJ2k, and having a nice complement could actually help extend his Titans career, as well. If a guy like Marcus Lattimore starts free-falling in the draft, the Titans would be wise to snatch him up and get a mega steal.
Defensive Needs: CB, S, DE
If you ask me, the only other spot the Titans are starving for talent more is in their secondary. Cortland Finnegan’s departure left a hole last year, while the Titans could lose another decent talent in Alterraun Verner via free agency in 2013. Either way, they could really use some help at corner. If they shy away from their o-line and stud corner Dee Milliner somehow falls to them, I really like that pick. It’d be an excellent selection, but they can still add 1-2 corners the rest of the way at great value if they don’t act on corner early. They just better make sure they grab at least one in the first half of the draft, unless they plan on addressing the need in free agency.
If the Titans retain Verner, perhaps they’ll simply look to address their needs at safety. They got torched in the back of their defense last year, and a lot of the blame falls on Michael Griffin and Jordan Babineaux. I personally still think both guys are talented and can be quality safeties, but money and poor play could equate to a change. If the Titans pull the trigger on some type of a transition, perhaps Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro can be a part of the solution with their first round pick. I think 10th overall is too early for him, but you never know. The good news is, no matter what they decide at safety, the Titans should be able to look over other solid options in rounds 2-4 if they don’t go for a safety with their first pick.
As bad as the secondary is as a whole right now in Tennessee, it would probably improve if the Titans simply had a better pass-rush. Right now there is little depth on the line, so a nice move would be to give a running mate for Kamerion Wimbley and Derrick Morgan. I doubt the Titans spend their first pick here, but it wouldn’t be crazy. Another elite talent to toss into the mix could suddenly give them a deadly pass-rush, which inevitably would round out the rest of their defense. If they were to do so, Barkevious Mingo and Dion Jordan could make a ton of sense, should they last that long. A really interesting pick that could quickly gain a ton of steam is BYU pass-rushing specialist Ezekiel Ansah, who is extremely raw and inexperienced, but is busting with potential.
For me, it all starts on the line of scrimmage. Tennessee is still going to give it a go with Jake Locker (which I’m all for because I still see something in him), but the best way to get him to the next level is to take pressure off of him. Improving the offensive line should both help protect him a little better, and also make the Titans’ offense more balanced and far less predictable. On the other side, adding an elite pass-rusher could ignite a spark under a lethargic defense.
If the Titans can shore up the interior of their o-line and land an impact defender on defense, they’ll be headed in the right direction when the 2013 season rolls around.