It is time for the annual TitanInsider mock draft where we make all the Tennessee Titans’ scheduled picks. And just for the record, perhaps it has never been tougher to figure out what direction and what players the Titans might be targeting.
That is because, in part, there are fewer absolute glaring needs on the roster going into 2017 than there have been in years past. Last year, it seemed obvious that the Titans were going to upgrade the offensive line, and Jack Conklin was the perfect target to solve the right tackle problem that had existed since David Stewart’s departure years before.
This year, the Titans are thin numbers-wise in some spots – cornerback, wide receiver, tight end – but that doesn’t mean the team is bereft of talent in those positions. It just means the numbers are short, as in the Titans need a second (and perhaps third) corner, a second tight end and at least a third and fourth receiver, depending upon how things shake out.
Beyond that, the Titans are in a rather enviable position in this draft, being able to draft for depth and build for the future, rather than addressing obvious holes.
The other parts of the equation in this draft are Jon Robinson’s trader mentality and the Titans’ draft position. Tennessee holds two first-round picks and two thirds as well among its eight choices. But the Titans have no picks in the second round, thanks to having to trade back up last year in order to choose Conklin at No. 8. Robinson showed last year in trading out of No. 1 overall for a bushel of picks that he likes to move around the draft board and pick up additional choices when possible.
So, armed with picks at 5 and 18 in round one, it’s hard to see the Titans sitting out round two and watching 65 (Their next choice after 18 is at No. 83) picks go off the board and doing nothing about it.
That said, for the mock draft purposes, we will let draft-day trades take care of themselves and simply address the picks and draft positions currently at the Titans’ disposal.
No. 5 overall, Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State _ Tennessee would probably like to deal this pick and move back a few slots, while recouping their missing second-rounder pick. That way, they could still have their choice of a lot of solid players available five or six slots lower. If they stay at five, among the options the Titans might consider here are Alabama tight end O.J. Howard and his Crimson Tide teammate, defensive lineman Jonathan Allen or LSU safety Jamal Adams. The Titans don’t have many needs to be filled in this draft, but cornerback is one of them, and that is part of the reasoning for the choice of Lattimore. The Titans added Logan Ryan in free agency to uprgrade one side of the defensive backfield, but still have question marks on the other side. Lattimore’s skill set has drawn rave reviews from draft analysts and his play on the field speaks for itself. The only issue with Lattimore has been nagging hamstring injuries that have cost him games at times throughout his college career. If the Titans trade down, Lattimore’s Buckeye teammate Gareon Conley could be in play as well.
No. 18 overall, Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan _ From just a numbers standpoint, the Titans have to add personnel on the outside to go with Rishard Matthews and Tajae Sharpe. There are three receivers in this draft generally regarded as first-round material – Davis, Clemson’s Mike Williams and Washington’s John Ross. The Titans have had visits with all three. Ross is a burner, breaking Chris Johnson’s 40-yard dash record at the Combine with a blistering 4.22 time. Williams has the size and leaping ability to catch 50/50 balls, while Davis, despite playing in the MAC, seems to be the most well-rounded of the group. Given that route-running and production are the Titans’ priorities at receiver, Davis gets the nod here.
No. 83 overall, Cam Sutton, CB, Tennessee _ The Titans met with the former Vols cornerback before the draft, and his presence would provide some versatility. Sutton is a little on the light side at 188 pounds, but can play outside or at the nickelback position. He also is dangerous as a return man. With this being a deep draft for defensive backs, the Titans can grab a couple of corners and have them play a role right away.
No. 100 overall, Jordan Leggett, TE, Clemson _ The Titans lost an underrated piece of their run-blocking when Anthony Fasano departed to the Miami Dolphins as a free agent. Leggett had 31 catches and four touchdowns this year. There are some questions about his blocking, but he certainly has the size (6-5, 258) to be successful.
No. 124 overall, Jayon Brown, OLB, UCLA _ The Titans found a player they liked last year from UCLA in Aaron Wallace, and with Kevin Dodd still a question mark after an injury-marred rookie season, the Titans might want to take a stab at another edge prospect. Brown is a sure tackler and also had three interceptions last year, which could make him effective in the Titans’ zone blitz scheme to drop back into coverage.
No. 164 overall, Deatrich Wise, DE, Arkansas _ The Titans defensive line is a strength, but it is one of those areas where you can never have enough quality players. At 6-5, 275, Wise looks the part and should be a decent run stopper as a five-technique end. This might be a little low, as many have him projected as a fourth-rounder, but there are always decent rated prospects who fall through the cracks and last a round or two longer than projected.
No. 214 overall, Ben Gedeon, ILB, Michigan _ The scouting report on Gedeon has one trait that Jon Robinson values as much or more than any other – he is smart. He also made an impact on special teams for the Wolverines, playing on the coverage units even after he became a defensive starter.
No. 236, Robert Davis, WR, Georgia State _ Another Tajae Sharpe type sleeper in the late rounds? Davis ran a 4.36 in the 40-yard dash and also caught 67 passes on his way to becoming a first-team All-Sun Belt player. He has the size (6-3, 219) to go with the speed, as well as the production to be able to contribute at the NFL level.