COMMENTARY | The Tennessee Titans enter the offseason with a few fairly big needs with more expected to come in the near future. For example, there is already a need to upgrade at middle linebacker and a need for the Titans to upgrade their pass rush, but if the new head coach doesn't want to pay $6 million for a sub-par right tackle then the Titans could cut David Stewart and create a need. The same can be said about running back Chris Johnson, who will be owed something along the lines of $22 million over the next three years.
With big decisions looming, here is how the Titans could maximize their picks in the first two rounds of the 2014 NFL Draft.
(For a more in-depth look at why certain teams may make some questionable picks check out my Tennessee Titans NFL mock draft 1.0 that I wrote last week.)
1. Houston Texans- Blake Bortles QB, UCF
2. Traded to Browns for a pair of 2014 first round picks (STL via Washington)- Teddy Bridgewater QB, Louisville
3. Jacksonville Jaguars- Derek Carr QB, Fresno State
4. St. Louis Rams (via Cleveland)- Jake Matthews OT, TAMU
6. Atlanta Falcons- Greg Robinson OT, Auburn (updated)
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Johnny Manziel QB, TAMU
9. Buffalo Bills- Mike Evans WR, TAMU
10. Detroit Lions- Sammy Watkins WR, Clemson
11. Tennessee- Khalil Mack DE/OLB Buffalo
Why Khalil Mack is the best choice:
Despite playing in a "weak" conference, Mack is one of the best defensive players in this draft. Mack's ability to bend the edge while maintaining power is astonishing, and had it not been for athletic freaks (and I mean that in the best way) like Anthony Barr and Jadeveon Clowney then Mack would have easily been the best pass rusher in this draft.
The Titans should be able to attract any coach they want to the Tennessee job (as I wrote last week) , and right now it looks like a defensive head coach will take over. Whether that coach is Dan Quinn from the Seattle Seahawks or Mike Zimmer from the Cincinnati Bengals, that coach should appreciate the value of a pass rusher over a middle linebacker or a right tackle.
**To figure out who is available, I took off the next 21 players of my big board. Those players will be detailed below.
33. Houston Texans- Kony Ealy DE, Mizzou
Why?: With Antonio Smith likely gone in free agency the Texans will need someone to fill the role of #2 pass rusher.
34. Washington Redskins- Kelvin Benjamin WR, FSU
Why?: The Redskins need more weapons for RG3 and Benjamin can play the "A.J. Green" role in a Jay Gruden Offense.
35. Cleveland Browns- Carlos Hyde RB, OSU
Why?: The Browns need an RB, and Hyde is the top player at his position. Perfect meeting of BPA and need.
36. Oakland Raiders- Tajh Boyd QB, Clemson
Why?: When you have two quarterbacks, you have no quarterbacks and you can't win in this NFL without a clear option at QB.
37. Atlanta Falcons- David Yankey OG, Stanford
Why?: One addition on the OL isn't enough for the porous unit, they will need another high-caliber blocker.
38. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- De'Anthony Thomas RB/WR/KR
Why?: Lovie Smith once had a guy with a similar description in Devin Hester, can he get the same production out of DAT?
39. Jacksonville Jaguars- Aaron Lynch DE, USF
Why?: Big time boom-or-bust player, and unfortunately for Jaguars fans most of their boom-or-bust picks turn into the latter.
40. Minnesota Vikings- David Fales QB, SJSU
Why?: The Vikings are desperate for a QB and Fales is the last of the second-tier QBs available.
41. Buffalo Bills- Xavier Su'a-Filo OG, UCLA
Why?: The Bills could use a new guard, and some debate that Su'a-Filo might have a higher ceiling than Cyril Richardson and David Yankey.
42. Tennessee Titans- Dominique Easley DT, Florida
Why?: The Titans already have one outstanding defensive tackle and have added another pass rusher in Khalil Mack, but it is hard to pass up value like this. The best way to mask a bad MLB is with great interior defenders, and with Easley and Jurrell Casey on the inside Moise Fokou would look like an All-Pro.
Other players considered for the Titans:
Ka'Deem Carey RB, Arizona- Running back will be a big need for the Titans, but with a defensive coordinator at the helm, it will be hard to argue the need for a running back in the first two rounds when talent is usually available on day three of the NFL Draft.
Dion Bailey S, USC- This would be a reach, but the Titans may need a safety if they can't retain Bernard Pollard this offseason.
Travis Swanson C- One of the most athletic centers in college football, and if the new regime isn't sold on Brian Schwenke as the starter then Swanson could make a lot of sense.
21 Players drafted in picks 12-32
1. C.J. Mosley 2. Taylor Lewan 3. Cyrus Kouandijo 4. Louis Nix 5. Ha-Ha Clinton Dix 6. Stephon Tuitt 7. Marqise Lee 8. Darqueze Dennard 9. Ryan Shazier 10. Vic Beasley 11. Trent Murphy 12. Eric Ebron 13. Jace Amaro 14. Ra'Shede Hageman 15. Justin Gilbert 16. Antonio Richardson 17. Cyril Richardson 18. Jason Verrett 19. Bradley Roby 20. Austin Seferian-Jenkins 21. Timmy Jernigan.
Will Lomas is a lead blogger for draftseason.com and a staff writer for SBNation's Tennessee Titans website Music City Miracles. Will is also the sports editor for the Tennessee Journalist, the University of Tennessee's online news source.
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