A possible 2017 NFL Draft route for the Tennessee Titans in this seven-round mock draft.
It is officially April, meaning that we can now say that the 2017 NFL Draft is later this month. We are getting down to crunch time as teams make final preparations on their draft board.
The Tennessee Titans are in an interesting spot in the 2017 NFL Draft. They have a strong foundation of players already on their roster and hold two upcoming first-round picks (fifth and 18th overall). However, the Titans do not have a second-round pick.
General manager Jon Robinson is known for wheeling and dealing on draft day. We saw it right away last year, as Robinson traded down from the first overall pick, picking up a huge haul of assets. Then on draft night, Robinson traded back into the top 10, going from No. 15 to eight and selecting offensive tackle Jack Conklin. Conklin was named a first-team All-Pro for his play as a rookie, so it is fair to say that they made a good deal.
I wonder if we will see similar movement out of the Titans in the 2017 NFL Draft. Robinson is armed with elite draft capital at the top but lacks a second round pick in a deep class. Do not be surprised if the Titans end up trading down from at least one of their first round picks. However, as we saw, if a player they like slips, Robinson will not hesitate to spend the resources on trading up and getting him.
What will the Tennessee Titans do in the 2017 NFL Draft? Let’s find out a possible scenario in this complete seven-round mock draft.
Mar 5, 2017; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Ohio State defensive back Marshon Lattimore speaks to the media during the 2017 combine at Indiana Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Cornerback, Ohio State
If Solomon Thomas is still available when the Titans go on the clock at number five, I could certainly see him becoming the pick. Having an opportunity to draft elite edge rushers is rare and it is difficult to pass up that opportunity. That being said, Marshon Lattimore is a talented cornerback who can have a similar impact on a pass defense.
The Titans’ cornerback situation was awful last season. They were a good overall team but their lack of talent at cornerback held the team back all year. Jason McCourty is a solid veteran corner on one side, but the Titans still need a true number one.
They brought in Logan Ryan as a free agent this offseason, but Ryan is best used as a slot cornerback. Ryan will make an impact for the Titans, but the need for cornerback talent is undoubtedly still there.
Lattimore is a freak cover corner who shows great size, speed and athleticism for the position. He has elite natural coverage skills, showing the ability to play press, off-man and zone coverage on the outside. Lattimore is an extremely instinctive player who always gets the most out of his abilities.
A true ball hawk who also has elite coverage skill, Lattimore has a chance to be a star at the next level. He is a true number one who would immediately make the Titans defense so much better.
Mar 4, 2017; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Clemson Tigers wide receiver Mike Williams catches a pass during the 2017 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Wide Receiver, Clemson
Aside from cornerback, wide receiver is the biggest position of need for the Tennessee Titans. They simply must find talent for Marcus Mariota to throw to on the outside. After landing the best cornerback earlier in the 2017 NFL Draft, they find arguably the best receiver in the class here at No. 18.
Mike Williams is a big and physical athletic freak on the outside who can single-handily take over a game. He is not a burner on the outside, but Williams shows enough to speed to make plays deep. At 6-4, 218 pounds, Williams uses his size extremely well on the outside. He is a fantastic jump ball player who will be a huge red zone weapon at the next level.
Williams obviously has the size and athleticism, but he is also a solid route runner who shows the ability to handle complex passing game situations. Williams will adjust on the fly when needed (which is obviously important when playing with a mobile quarterback) and shows a willingness to go across the middle.
The Titans need a number one receiver to pair with Mariota. Their young quarterback has a bright future in this league, but he needs legitimate weapons to work with. Williams is a safe prospect who has a great chance of being a rock solid number one in the NFL. Landing him at 18 would be a huge win for Jon Robinson.
Oct 29, 2016; Greenville, NC, USA; East Carolina Pirates wide receiver Zay Jones (7) makes a third quarter touchdown catch against the Connecticut Huskies at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. East Carolina defeated Connecticut 41-3. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
Wide Receiver, East Carolina
The Titans would probably be fine just adding a number one receiver like Mike Williams to the mix. However, it does not hurt adding more impact talent to the position of need and I simply could not pass up the value of taking Zay Jones in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft.
Jones is a talented prospect who has incredible NFL blood lines. His father, Robert, was a linebacker for those incredible Dallas Cowboys teams in the 1990s. His uncle is 14-year NFL quarterback Jeff Blake. Jones has been around the game for his entire life and has the blood lines to succeed at the next level.
Jones left ECU as the FBS all-time record-holder in career receptions with 399. He also set a NCAA single-season record with 158 receptions in 2016. Jones is an incredible playmaker at the wide receiver position, showing the ability to make an impact both in the slot and on the outside.
Jones comes in at 6-2, 201 pounds and shows incredible natural toughness on the field. He is not afraid to go over and the middle and shows ridiculous natural footwork on the outside. Jones is the best receiver in this class at getting his feet in bounds while making the catch.
The ECU product is not a burner on the outside. He is never going to be a huge deep threat. That being said, his skills will translate to immediate success in the short to intermediate range. Adding Williams and Jones immediately makes the Titans receiving corps a much bigger threat. A top four of Williams, Jones, Rishard Matthews and Tajae Sharpe will play.
The Titans really struggled to defend opposing tight ends last season. The tight ends in the NFL are not easy to defend as they are absolute matchup nightmares in the middle of the field. However, with a lack of speed and athleticism at the linebacker position, the Titans did not even stand a chance. They must add some natural athleticism to the linebacker position in the 2017 NFL Draft.
With their third round compensatory pick, Florida linebacker Alex Anzalone would make a lot of sense. Anzalone is an extremely athletic linebacker prospect who has a ton of upside at the next level. He stands 6-3, 241 pounds and moves extremely well in space. Anzalone has the combination of size and athleticism that can handle NFL tight ends.
He is a perfect fit for what the Titans needs. However, Anzalone has always struggled to stay healthy. Through four years at Florida, Anzalone only played in 18 games. He always seemed to be dealing with one injury or another.
Anzalone is an extremely gifted linebacker prospect who shows an ability to make an impact both against the run and the pass. However, his durability is a major concern. Taking Anzalone here is a risk, but it is one that could pay off in a big way for the Titans.
Nov 21, 2015; Gainesville, FL, USA; Florida Atlantic Owls defensive end Trey Hendrickson (9) prior to the game against the Florida Gators at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
EDGE, Florida Atlantic
The Titans starting duo of Derrick Morgan and Brian Orakpo are strong on the edge. Both Morgan and Orakpo have the ability to create consistent pressure on the passer. That being said, the Titans do not have enough depth at the position.
Kevin Dodd stands out as the primary player behind Morgan and Orakpo and there is still hope for him. However, Dodd missed a lot of time with injuries last season and did not look good when he did play. The Titans cannot count on Dodd in 2017 and beyond making edge rusher a position that they should address in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Here in the fourth round, they find Trey Hendrickson out of Florida Atlantic. Hendrickson shows good natural burst on the edge and great quickness for the position. He is not a freak athlete, but Hendrickson is a high motor player who can create pressure.
He lacks ideal length for a pass rusher, but Hendrickson has good overall size. He is probably best suited as a player with his hand on the ground, so I think Hendrickson would probably be most used in sub packages with the Titans. Regardless he is a talented player who works hard and will make an impact on the field.
Hendrickson would provide quality depth at an extremely important defensive position.
Sep 24, 2016; Chapel Hill, NC, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels wide receiver Ryan Switzer (3) runs after a catch in the game against the Pittsburgh Panthers at Kenan Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
Wide Receiver, North Carolina
The Titans have already added a ton of wide receiver talent in the 2017 NFL Draft. However, Ryan Switzer is an absolute steal here and he would make an impact for Marcus Mariota. Switzer is a quick and elusive slot receiver who simply knows how to get open.
Switzer shows elite start and stop quickness in the open field and has strong overall route running ability. The North Carolina product is a weapon with the ball in his hands, showing the ability to make defenders miss in open space with ease.
Rishard Matthews, Tajae Sharpe and Zay Jones could all make an impact as a slot receiver for the Titans. However, none of them have the skill set built for the position quite like Switzer. He was born to play slot receiver in the NFL and has the ability to make a huge impact for the Titans in the passing game.
Switzer is the third receiver added by the Titans in this draft. With two big and athletic outside receivers and the quick slot guy in Switzer, the Titans could completely rebuild their position in the 2017 NFL Draft. Add in Matthews and Sharpe and Mariota all of a sudden has a deep and talented group of pass catchers to work with.
Josh Tupou is not an interior pass rusher. He is not a guy who moves well at all on the inside. Realistically, Josh Tupou is simply a run defender who can eat up space.
Listed at 6-3, 325 pounds, Tupou is extremely strong and difficult to move in the middle of the field. He does not have a ton of upside at the next level, but Tupou could certainly be valuable in a specific role.
The Titans could use him as a run defender on early downs and he will help plug up the run in the middle of the field. You are never getting more out of him, but Tupou will do his job well. What more could you as for?
With their final selection in this mock draft, the Titans take a shot at some upside at a position of need. Jeremy Clark is listed at 6-3, 220 pounds with nearly 33-inch arms. His playing weight is really around 205 pounds, but Clark has been laid up with a torn ACL in recent months.
His size and length are exciting on the outside and Clark has strong overall athleticism that will play at the next level. However, a major knee injury is always a concern. If Clark can come back healthy, he is a real weapon at the cornerback position. Selecting Clark is worth the upside for the Titans in the seventh round of the 2017 NFL Draft.