NFL Draft: Tennessee Titans

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- A wrap-up of the Tennessee Titans' draft. Click here for a full list of Titans draftees.

[+] EnlargeBishop Sankey
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty ImagesRunning back Bishop Sankey figures to have a lead role in the Titans' backfield.
Best move: It’s a new day for the Titans' offensive backfield, and second-round pick Bishop Sankey will likely be the lead character in a committee of three. Shonn Greene will get some short-yardage work and Dexter McCluster will catch passes, and Tennessee might plan to feature them more on some Sundays. But Sankey is a versatile back who can run inside, run outside, break away, catch passes and pass protect. There were a lot of good backs in this draft, and the position has been devalued. But I've got no qualms with taking the first back off the board at No. 54, and if he pans out, it will rank as a perfectly fine value.

Riskiest move: Fourth-round defensive tackle DaQuan Jones might be of influence in the pass rush. But the Titans failed to add a young outside linebacker or defensive end who can contribute to the edge rush. The Titans are counting, then, on the new scheme, position changes for Kamerion Wimbley and Derrick Morgan, and the addition of Shaun Phillips to produce far more outside pressure on quarterbacks than they got last season. Defensive tackle Jurrell Casey accounted for 10.5 of the team’s 36 sacks last season. Edge pass-rusher could be the team’s top need come free agency and the draft in 2015, considering Morgan and Akeem Ayers aren’t under contract, and Wimbley and Phillips are over 30.

Most surprising move: We knew offensive tackle was a first-round possibility. Taylor Lewan received strong reviews as the No. 11 pick from two general managers of other teams. Plenty of fans are horrified that the Titans didn’t address something that ranked as a more immediate need. But the aging Michael Roos has slipped as a run blocker and is a year away from free agency, and this move ensures an easy transition no matter when it occurs. Lewan joins the team facing three misdemeanor charges resulting from a campus fight and was alleged to have threatened to rape a classmate. He passed all the Titans' checks, however, and the odds are high they have hit on a quality player at a key position.

File it away: The addition of LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger in the sixth round seems like a low-risk, high-reward move. His arrival doesn’t open the starting quarterback job for competition, and something unexpected would have to happen for Jake Locker to lose his spot as the starting quarterback, coach Ken Whisenhunt said. Mettenberger is the big, strong-armed pocket-passer in Whisenhunt’s preferred style. The influence of former NFL coach Cam Cameron as LSU’s offensive coordinator was significant in Mettenberger’s final season. Can he position himself as an alternative to Locker if Locker fails or gets hurt again? Can he be in line to be the team’s quarterback in 2015 if Locker’s chance comes to an end? Those are the biggest questions awaiting him in his rookie season.
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- A flashy Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback with a catchy nickname sat drinking a cup of water when the Tennessee Titans went on the clock for the 11th pick in the NFL draft.

The Titans were polite when they talked of passing on Johnny Manziel, but they didn't hesitate to grab Michigan tackle Taylor Lewan, even as Michael Roos and Michael Oher are already on their roster.

The flash will have to come another time.

Lewan
General manager Ruston Webster recalled how he was part of the Seahawks front office that mistakenly presumed it would be able to replace eventual Hall of Famer Walter Jones. Webster didn't want to be party to that again, felt there were three great left tackles in this draft and happily selected the third one.

The Titans get a nasty player who will be a tone-setter as longtime right tackle David Stewart had been.

“My job is to make sure my quarterback is safe and my running back is in position to gain yards,” Lewan told Nashville media in a conference call.

The Titans will have a crowd at the tackle position -- for a year.

Incumbent left tackle Roos turns 32 in October and is entering the final year of his deal. Free-agent acquisition Oher got $20 million for four years but could be cut loose after one year and an investment of just $6 million.

So, does Lewan bring immediate impact? He can, but he might not. Will he deliver long-term stability? The Titans sure think so.

The other options at 11 might not have been as good.

The Titans were probably not going to draft a first-round quarterback no matter what. Two guys I believe they liked, outside linebacker Anthony Barr and tight end Eric Ebron, disappeared the two picks before.

So they went offensive line again a year after Alabama guard Chance Warmack was the 10th pick overall.

How did Lewan earn his reputation?

“By playing nasty, by playing through the whistle and trying to put guys in the dirt every single time,” he said. “Whether it's [Jadeveon] Clowney or some slappy on third team off some random team, I don't care who I am going against, I am going to play at the level that I need to play at no matter what. That's just the kind of person I am.”

Analyzing McShay mock: Titans 

April, 24, 2014
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The Titans pick 11th in the first round of the NFL draft. Their biggest position of need, running back, doesn’t have a consensus first-rounder and they won’t be taking one in the first round.

That leaves the team options at a ton of other spots with no glaring need.

Todd McShay’s newest mock draft Insider isn’t based on what he thinks will happen, but what he would do for each team if he were making its pick.

Analyzing Kiper Mock 4.0: Titans 

April, 17, 2014
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Mock drafts will surrender to the actual draft on May 8. It's still a long wait.

In his first two mocks, ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. had the Tennessee Titans taking Michigan tackle Taylor Lewan at No. 11. In Kiper's third draft he changed the selection to Anthony Barr, the UCLA linebacker.

Outside of running back, which the Titans won't be drafting in the first round, they have no glaring need.

But there are a number of spots where they can get better, deeper and/or younger -- including outside linebacker, on the defensive line, inside linebacker, tight end, tackle and cornerback.

In Kiper's mock draft 4.0 he has the Titans taking ...


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Could North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron be about the surest thing the Tennessee Titans could draft if he's on the board at No. 11?

It's not a big position of need with Delanie Walker on the roster.

Ebron
But the Titans do have a head coach who was an NFL tight end in Ken Whisenhunt. Whisenhunt's tight ends coach has been an NFL head coach with two different teams. Mike Mularkey was also a NFL tight end.

"I highly doubt Ebron would be available for the Titans," ESPN.com's resident scout, Matt Williamson said. "But I do think they would love to have him. Still, I am high enough on Walker that tight end wouldn't be my top priority."

Ty Schalter of Bleacher Report did an interesting piece on he likelihood of players panning out based on how they ultimately score in Pro Football Reference's Approximate Value.

Schalter looked at first- and second-round picks over 10 drafts whose players have at least three years of NFL experience.

"Just 14.8 percent of top-pick tight ends go three years without standing out," Schalter writes. "An incredible 81.4 percent of them make a big impact in either their first or second years. Just one tight end in this entire data set, Anthony Fasano, flopped in his first two seasons and blossomed in his third. Generally speaking, if a tight end hasn't become good after two years, he isn't going to."

Recent history bodes well for a top-rated tight end contributing early. How much that plays into the thinking of the team that takes him is something we may never know.

Analyzing McShay mock 4.0: Titans 

April, 10, 2014
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The Tennessee Titans have the 11th overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft after finishing 7-9 in 2014. The big need is running back, but he won’t arrive in the first round.

The Titans have a plan going forward with Jake Locker as their starting quarterback. They aren’t in dire need at any position, and have a lot of freedom in the first round, so I could see them taking a linebacker, a defensive lineman, a cornerback, a tight end, a receiver or even an offensive tackle.


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Analyzing Kiper 3.0: Titans

March, 13, 2014
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Michigan offensive tackle Taylor Lewan, ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr.'s pick for the Tennessee Titans in two earlier mock drafts, moves up two spots in version 3.0. Insider

This time around Kiper projects UCLA outside linebacker Anthony Barr to Tennessee. Barr has become the standard default pick for the Titans.

I like this pick better that Lewan for Tennessee.

The Titans are going to be a hybrid defense, shifting toward a 3-4. Akeem Ayers translates as does Kamerion Wimbley, but Wimbley is expensive with a $7.8 million cap charge and a $6 million base. He may need to take a pay reduction to stick around. Cutting him would save $2.4 million.

Barr projects as a 3-4 outside linebacker and has a connection to the Titans. New linebackers coach Lou Spanos was Barr’s defensive coordinator at UCLA.

Barr is agile and fast and has excellent pass-rushing attributes that include long arms and great athleticism. If he's on the board at No. 11, I think he's a guy the Titans will seriously consider in the spot.

Kiper has Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald and Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley still on the board when the Titans pick, and I see them as possibilities as well.

Kiper's Mock 3.0: Titans

March, 13, 2014
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In his first mock draft, ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. had the Tennessee Titans taking Michigan offensive lineman Taylor Lewan.

In Kiper's second mock draft, he stuck with Lewan.

Later Thursday, Kiper will release his third mock draft Insider.

As has long been expected, the Titans released right tackle David Stewart on Wednesday. While Byron Stingily might have a chance to win the job, the Titans are likely to add a tackle, especially with left tackle Michael Roos heading into the final year of his deal.

So does Kiper stick with Lewan?

That’s not where I would head. A linebacker who fits their move toward a 3-4 is a bigger priority, and they need a pass-rush boost.

I’d rank inside linebacker and offensive tackle highly, too. Running back and defensive line also are needs. But I don't see an inside backer or a running back in the first round.

Dexter McCluster is a running back in their eyes, but figures to be a third-down guy and pass-catcher more than a ball-carrier. Al Woods is a versatile defensive lineman, but I’m not sure he’ll be the last one the Titans add.

Some of those needs will be filled in ongoing free agency, of course.

We’ll see what direction Kiper thinks the Titans will go at No. 11 a little later.

McShay Mock 3.0: Titans 

March, 6, 2014
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Todd McShay's third NFL mock draft for 2014 is out on ESPN Insider today. The Titans are another team that should have great interest in a tackle, as David Stewart's replacement at right tackle and possibly someone to eventually replace Michael Roos on the left side. Running back is a need position, assuming Chris Johnson is on his way out, but that isn't going to happen with the 11th overall selection and maybe not even in Round 2.

The most likely situation is the Titans selecting the best available defensive player. Tennessee's defense could really use a true star at any level, which is something they lack currently.

Whom does McShay have the Titans drafting at No. 11? Let's take a look:


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Kiper-McShay Mocks 2.0: Titans 

February, 6, 2014
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In their first mock drafts, Todd McShay and Mel Kiper each tabbed an offensive tackle for the Titans, but different ones.

Todd McShay's Mock 1.0: Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama

Mel Kiper's Mock 1.0: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan

Has there been a change for their second mocks? Here's the latest projection from each of our experts.


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Kiper Mock Draft 1.0: Titans 

January, 15, 2014
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The Tennessee Titans own the 11th overall pick in the upcoming draft after a 7-9 season that got Mike Munchak fired.

With new coach Ken Whisenhunt working with general manager Ruston Webster, the Titans could go any number of directions.

Jake Locker is a quarterback heading into his fourth year, and we don’t yet know how Whisenhunt feels about him. Whisenhunt has had success with pocket passers, so the Titans could look for a drop-back, pro-style guy if there is one to be found.

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