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2011 Mock Draft Primer: Titans on the Clock

March 7th, 2011
Icon Sports Media, Inc.

WR A.J. Green

Almost done with the top ten picks, it’s time for the Tennessee Titans to get on the clock with the ninth overall pick. Just as a recap, here’s the order to the picks so far. And you can click on the links to read the appropriate articles:

1. Carolina – QB Blaine Gabbert
2. Denver – CB Patrick Peterson
3. Buffalo – QB Cam Newton
4. Cincinnati – DT Nick Fairley
5. Arizona – LB Von Miller
6. Cleveland – DE Da’Quan Bowers
7. San Francisco – DE Robert Quinn

So the Titans are on the clock, with only a few of what I would term to be the “Big 11″ left on the clock. These would be the eleven players that are virtual locks to be selected in the Top 15 picks, but obviously what order they go in is in some dispute. Among those players still left on the board for the Titans to pilfer through are Alabama defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, his teammate Julio Jones, his fellow wideout from Georgia in A.J. Green, and cornerback Prince Amukamara of Nebraska. And it’s likely that the Titans will pick from among those four when they choose eighth overall to get the best player available. And in the end I think that will be A.J. Green. As usual, continue to read on if you want to know why Green will be a Titan instead of other options.

The interesting question for the Titans is what to do at quarterback. Their owner Bud Adams has already committed that they will deal Vince Young at some point and that they are looking for a new quarterback. The positive is that they still have Kerry Collins, who can be re-signed for a modest sum to keep the seat warm if they get themselves backed into a corner. But truthfully, they would love to wind up with one of the two premier passers in this draft. But as you read before, I have them both going in the first three picks of this draft. The Titans have had their time with a mobile quarterback in Young, so it’s going to be interesting to see how much they covet a player like Newton. Bud Adams has shown his affinity for athletic, mobile passers, but because of the “failure” of Young, it’ll be interesting to see how much the team wants to go down that path again. Because that seems doubtful, it’s likely that Gabbert will be at the top of their board, and if he should not go No. 1 to Carolina, the Titans might be a team to sneak up and grab him.

But the potential presence of Collins on the roster means that the Titans don’t have to force it. If Newton and Gabbert are off the board, then they will likely turn their attention to the next best passers in the class which are Jake Locker and Ryan Mallett. But the eighth overall pick is too high for either of them. They might be able to get away with Locker in the middle of the first, but that requires them trading down a number of spots. And that would require a trade partner, and likely one that is looking to move up into the top 10 to get one of the receivers or perhaps Dareus. St. Louis would be a good spot for them to swap picks with at No. 14, or perhaps New England (No. 17) or San Diego (No. 18) and then pull the trigger on Locker or Mallett without heaping the pressure of them being a Top 10 pick.

If not a quarterback however, the Titans have some other areas they need to address. They need to get better in their secondary. It’s been a problem area for a number of years. And while they would love to have Peterson, they’d likely have to move up to get him. Instead, this is likely the earliest a team will consider taking Amukamara off the board. Finnegan is entering the final year of his contract, and he’s going to need a strong 2011 campaign to merit the Titans willing to shell out the money to keep him. So Amukamara offers a good insurance policy.

The Titans could also use some help up front. But it’s not a major need. They have some key pieces for the future that they like in Jason Jones, Tony Brown, Sen’Derrick Marks, William Hayes, and Derrick Morgan. If they can keep at least one of their defensive end free agnets between Jason Babin, Dave Ball, and Jacob Ford they should be fine for the most part. Adding another young piece like Dareus or one of the ends should they fall (Bowers?), would be tempting, but not a need.

On the offensive side of the ball, the Titans probably could use some more help on the outside. Kenny Britt has been an explosive option, but neither Nate Washington or Justin Gage have emerged as good go-to targets as well. So adding a player of A.J. Green’s skill makes a lot of sense at this point, which will give whomever is their quarterback a lot of opportunities to make splash plays down the field.

If the Titans can’t trade up or down to get a quarterback, then it will likely come down to making a move to significant improve the pass defense and secondary or the passing offense and wide receiver position. In the end, I think they’ll take the better overall player with Green, who is widely considered an elite receiving prospect at the eighth overall spot. You can’t find better value than that.

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