The Tennessee Titans finished 2nd in the AFC South this past season, but that’s not saying much considering they went just 7-9. The Titans have now missed the playoffs in five consecutive seasons since last winning the division back in 2008. Tennessee is hoping that a new coach will help turn things around. Mike Munchak has has been replaced by former Arizona Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt.
The Titans have watched a number of solid players leave town this offseason, including corner Alterraun Verner, running back Chris Johnson, kicker Rob Bironas, wide receiver Kenny Britt, offensive tackle David Stewart and backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Tennessee was able to bring in some quality players in free agency. They added outside linebacker Wesley Woodyard (Broncos), offensive tackle Michael Oher (Ravens), defensive end Shaun Phillips (Broncos), wide receiver/return specialist Dexter McCluster (Chiefs), defensive tackle Al Woods (Steelers), center Eric Olsen (Steelers) and backup quarterback Charlie Whitehurst (Chargers).
The Titans will now look to improve their roster via the NFL Draft. Tennessee has the No. 11 overall pick in the first round, but they are without a 3rd round selection, leaving them just six picks to work with. Here’s a quick look at the five positions I believe the Titans need to target.
The loss of Johnson isn’t as big of a blow as some might think. Johnson hasn’t been producing for for a few years now and had way to many plays for negative yardage. They do need to find a capable replacement, as they aren’t going to be in any better shape if Shonn Greene and Jackie Battle are taking the majority of the snaps. There’s no running back even worth considering in the first round, but there are several quality players at the position. Look for Tennessee to give Ohio State’s Carlos Hyde serious consideration with their second round pick.
The Titans have a couple of decent corners on the roster in Jason McCourty and 2013 third rounder Blidi Wreh-Wilson, but neither is great and there’s not much depth behind them. Tennessee will be able to grab one of the top three corners at No. 11 and I expect them to do just that.
Tennessee is shifting to a 3-4 scheme under new defensive coordinator Ray Horton and don’t exactly have all the pieces up front to really excel in this system. Jurrell Casey and Ropati Pitoitua figure to start at the two defensive end spots, but they could use some more depth behind them. My big concern comes at nose tackle, where the Titans lack the space-eating man in the middle. Al Woods and Sammie Lee Hill are options, but neither is a great fit at the position.
There’s still hope for fourth-year quarterback and Jake Locker, who the Titans selected No. 8 overall in the 2011 draft. The problem is he’s not been able to stay on the field. He’s played just 18 games over the last two seasons. I have to believe his inability to stay healthy is going to force Tennessee to look for a potential replacement. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if the Titans used their 2nd round pick on a quarterback, especially if the right player falls to them.
The Tennessee defense struggled to put pressure on the quarterback this past season. As a team they totaled just 36 (21st) and 10.5 of those game from Casey out of the defensive tackle spot. Now that Casey is playing a 3-4 defensive end, he’s not going to get as many opportunities to get after the quarterback. Adding in Phillips was a step in the right direction and there’s still room for 2010 first rounder Derrick Morgan to improve. It would make a lot of sense for the Titans to try add in another p[ass rusher via the draft.
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