Who Will The Titans Take In The First Round?
It's been a long time since Tennessee Titans fans have had much to cheer about. Their last playoff appearance was after the 2008 season. Their last postseason victory was after the 2003 season over Baltimore in the AFC Wildcard round.
Yeah, it's been a while and it's not like the Titans haven't been hearing about it.
Every NFL Draft is important, but the one happening this Thursday could make or break 2013 for Tennessee. The team has plenty of talent, but may need a little nudge to get the wheels spinning faster and more toward the direction of a postseason berth. However, the Titans might still be too far away. There's no real way of knowing.
Tennessee has nine picks in the 2013 NFL Draft: Round 1, No. 10; Round 2, No. 8; Round 3, No. 8; Round 3, No. 35; Round 4, No. 10; Round 5, No. 9; Round 6, No. 34; Round 7, No. 10; and Round 7, No. 42.
Who will the Titans take at No. 10 on Thursday? Six names come to mind: G Chance Warmack, DT Sharrif Floyd, G Jonathan Cooper, S Kenny Vaccaro, LB Jarvis Jones and DE Ezekiel Ansah.
No running backs, quarterbacks or wide receivers for Tennessee's first pick, you ask? The team is covered at those positions with Chris Johnson, Jake Locker, Kenny Britt, Nate Washington, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Shonn Greene, Kendall Wright, Kevin Walter, and Jamie Harper. The Titans are thin at offensive guard, so we'll start with Warmack and Cooper. The team can't pick both; the NFL has yet to create two for one deals.
Unlike Cooper, Warmack is a championship guard with Alabama. He is considered one of the best offensive lineman in the 2013 draft class. The Titans can't lose with Warmack because he's already fit for NFL starting time. Michael Roos, Mike Otto, Rob Turner and Chris Spencer would take a deep breath if the Titans took Warmack. This 6'3, 320 lb monster is out to gobble up other players' jobs.
A former wrestler, Cooper has great hands during one-on-one situations. He may not be a two-time BCS Champion like Warmack, but nine North Carolina defenders have been selected over the previous three drafts and Cooper may be the cream of that Tar Heels crop. He was on the first-team All-American and All-ACC teams in 2012, as well as the winner of the ACC Jacobs Blocking Trophy, which has been given to the ACC's most outstanding blocker since 1953.
If Warmack isn't available at No. 10, then the Titans should deeply consider grabbing Cooper. Both Warmack and Cooper are instant starters at the offensive guard position.
Tennessee has 17 years of experience spread over six players at the defensive tackle position. Sharrif Floyd, out of Florida, doesn't have awesome numbers (4.5 sacks and 26 tackles for loss in two years) but has versatility, able to play at any position on the defensive line. He also dealt with a rough family upbringing, so his will to overcome adversity is a plus. Overall, Floyd was very important to Florida and kept progressing his speed and strength over time.
Pass rush specialists Keith Millard and Gregg Williams could have some fun with Floyd.
The Titans just signed veteran SS Benard Pollard and have eight-year veteran George Wilson behind him, so the team might not have such a need for another SS like Kenny Vaccaro out of Texas. However, depth is always key and Vaccaro was one of the Longhorns best players (two interceptions and 92 tackles) in 2012. Vaccaro is a confident, athletic safety, but Tennessee isn't hurting at that position, so picking the Texas alum would be a surprise.
Georgia's Jarvis Jones led the NCAA in tackles for loss, sacks and forced fumbles as a linebacker in 2012, so his statistics speak louder than words. Tennessee doesn't have any big name linebackers on its depth chart, so Jones could give the Titans an established asset, but he'll still be a rookie.
Kamerion Wimbley and Derrick Morgan currently hold the defensive ends down for the Titans, but BYU's Ezekiel Ansah is an intriguing story. The native of Ghana had only one breakout season and it was his senior year in 2012: 62 tackles and 4.5 sacks. Ansah started playing football for BYU in his sophomore year after dealing with misfortune in basketball and track. He has played some linebacker in four man fronts, but is listed as a defensive end in the draft. Ansah has great size (6'5, 271 lbs) and could be a sleeper pick for Tennessee.
The Titans should pick either Warmack or Cooper in the first round. Jake Locker is still developing as a quarterback, so he needs the extra inside protection in the pocket. Bring in either Cooper or Warmack and Locker might have a little more time to throw, which means more yards, more touchdowns and maybe more wins for a team that is desperate to return to the playoffs.