It is time for the annual TitanInsider mock draft. Some of the suspense at the top was taken out of this year’s draft when the Titans dealt the first overall pick to the Rams for a bundle of picks both this year and next year.
With that, the Titans now enter the draft this weekend with nine picks. So, without making any trades, which can complicate and really blow up a mock draft, TitanInsider makes its choices for all nine picks by the Titans. Keep in mind, this is highly unscientific. But on the other hand, we nailed the first two picks in last year’s draft with Marcus Mariota in round one and Dorial Green-Beckham in round two (though the Titans did trade down and still managed to nab DGB).
So without further adieu, let’s make those nine picks.
First round (15th overall): Jack Conklin, offensive tackle, Michigan State _ By trading down and out of the first pick, the Titans missed out on the chance to grab Laremy Tunsil, barring a trade back into the top five. There is the chance that if Notre Dame’s Ronnie Stanley took a draft day tumble that the Titans would go after him. But Conklin fills the bill nicely and can slide right in at right tackle, leaving Taylor Lewan on the left and fixing the o-line problems.
Second round (33rd overall): Jaylon Smith, LB, Notre Dame – OK, this is a major gamble for a team that has several holes to fill. But with nine picks (three in the second around), and in rebuilding mode, the Titans are the perfect team to take a chance on Smith, who would have been a top 10 pick, if not for a severe knee injury in the Irish’s bowl game. Smith is expected to sit out all of 2016, but if his knee heals (there is a nerve issue that is the big question), then the Titans in 2017 would have the equivalent of three first-round picks – their own, the Rams’ and Smith.
Second round (43rd overall): Kendall Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech – Fuller also had a knee injury in his final college season, but he is healed and ready to go. The brother of former Titans safety Vinnie Fuller, he gives the Titans some young, fresh blood at cornerback where Tennessee has been patching holes opposite Jason McCourty seemingly for years now.
Second round (45th overall): Vonn Bell, S, Ohio State – The Titans also need some fresh faces at the safety position, and there are a number of safeties with second-round grades, such as Bell, Keanu Neal and Karl Joseph. All three have been linked with the Titans, but Bell may be the best ballhawk of the three.
Third round (64th overall): Sterling Shepard, WR, Oklahoma – The Titans are likely to draft a receiver somewhere in this draft, and Shepard was an amazing playmaker for the Sooners last season. He probably fits best as a slot receiver, but keep in mind that Kendall Wright is in the final year of his contract and his future as a Titan is not guaranteed.
Third round (74th overall): Vadal Alexander, G, LSU – Alexander has the size (6-5, 325) and also plays with a mean streak. He is regarded as a masher in the run game, and with the Titans still unsettled at left guard and perhaps declining Chance Warmack’s 2017 option, grabbing him here makes lots of sense for the Titans, who still have the offensive line as one of their top priorities.
Fifth round (140th overall): D.J. Reader, DT, Clemson – This is a deep draft for defensive linemen, so the Titans can wait until round five and still get a player who can help them right away in the rotation at nose tackle. Reader had enough athletic ability to be on the Clemson baseball team as a freshman despite weighing 325-pounds.
Sixth-round (193rd overall): Bryce Williams, TE, East Carolina – The Titans are solid at tight end, but are not really young there. Delanie Walker is in the final year of his contract, and while he is still going strong, Craig Stevens is also on a one-year deal and Anthony Fasano’s contract expires as well at season’s end.
Seventh-round (222nd overall): Antonio Morrison, LB, Florida – Morrison had a few rough spots during his career at Florida, but the Titans get a linebacker to develop at one of the inside positions and some help on special teams until he is ready to compete for a defensive role.