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Offseason review: Tennessee Titans
QB, DE, MLB
Round 1: Jake Locker, QB
Round 2: Akeem Ayers, DE/OLB
Round 3: Jurrell Casey, DT
Round 4: Colin McCarthy, MLB
Round 5: Jamie Harper, RB
Round 5: Karl Klug, DT
Round 6: Byron Stingily, OT
Round 7: Zach Clayton, DT
Round 7: Tommie Campbell, S
Potential free agents of note
QB (veteran), DE, TE (depth)
With the expected departure of sixth-year pro Vince Young once the new league year starts, the Titans knew they had to address the quarterback position. Clearly, the need was their chief priority coming into the draft.
The selection of Jake Locker with their first-round pick gives the Titans the answer to the quarterback question, but when he’ll be ready to play may be an issue this season. Locker, according to personnel sources, had the biggest issues as far as passing mechanics of any of top quarterbacks available for this draft. With Locker unlikely to be ready to start early on, look for the Titans to either re-sign Kerry Collins or sign another veteran signal-caller.
The Titans are in good shape at running back with starter Chris Johnson, but they could use some competition for the No. 2 job. Fifth-round pick Jamie Harper gives them some badly-needed size for the position.
With three of their top defensive ends unsigned, the Titans attempted to address the pass-rushing issue with end/linebacker Akeem Ayers, who is expected to line up at strong-side linebacker in their revamped 4-3 scheme. But even with the addition of Ayers, the Titans will have to add depth and competition for starting jobs at defensive end in free agency.
Under new defensive coordinator Jerry Gray, the Titans will use the strong-side linebacker closer to the line of scrimmage. That’s a departure from the scheme the team used under former head coach Jeff Fisher and defensive line coach Jim Washburn.
“The way we’re playing it with this linebacker on the line of scrimmage is a different look. You’re asking the (strong-side) linebacker to set the edge more and have the defensive end in tighter, be a more physical player for us rather than having the defensive end wider in that position,” Titans head coach Mike Munchak said.
“That just changes things. It changes the attack of the offense, how an offense attacks that front, especially in the run game. (That) is what we’re trying to do, especially with the front; having bigger guys inside rather than pass-rush guys inside. I think you’ll see some changes, obviously, and we’ll see how it goes.”
Starting defensive end Jason Babin seems to be a long shot to re-sign since Washburn is now with the Philadelphia Eagles, and Babin’s probably not a great fit for the scheme adjustment since the ends won’t line up as wide as they previously did.
While the team seemingly had good depth at defensive tackle, that didn’t stop the Titans from selecting Jurrell Casey in the third round. The Titans were looking for more size on their interior of the defensive line, which helps explain Casey’s addition. It’s also worth noting that the top three defensive tackles are only signed through the 2012 season.
Should the team not re-sign starting middle linebacker Stephen Tulloch, fourth-round pick Colin McCarthy would get a chance to compete for the job as a rookie. However, it’s possible that the team considers moving veteran linebacker Will Witherspoon inside if Tulloch doesn’t come back because of Witherspoon's experience playing in the middle earlier in his career.