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NFL Draft preview: Changes come to Titans

The SportsXchange

NASHVILLE -- The Tennessee Titans, at least on paper, believe they have addressed most of their offseason issues.

Certainly, that remains to be seen since the Titans brought in an entirely new coaching staff with Ken Whisenhunt at the helm.

There have been two main changes in the coaching switch, one on each side of the football.

Defensively, the Titans have made the change from a 4-3, which they have run ever since arriving in Tennessee in 1997. In making the move to a 3-4, which will be under the direction of Ray Horton, Tennessee had to shuffle personnel and redefine roles of many of the old front seven. In particular, the roles of defensive tackle Jurrell Casey, who had 10.5 sacks in 2013, will be an interesting matter as the Titans go to three down linemen in their base scheme. Will Casey be an end, which could potentially rob him of some of his inside pass rushing ability? Or is he big enough to be a nose tackle?

The same thing is true with Derrick Morgan, a former first-round pick, who has yet to live up to that draft status, but has still been a serviceable end over the years. Would the Titans entertain making an outside linebacker out of Morgan, who has a long, lean frame, but has always played with his hand in the dirt?

There are even more moving parts among the linebackers where Zach Brown is likely to move from the weak side in the 4-3 to an inside spot in the 3-4. Akeem Ayers, miscast as a strong-side 4-3 linebacker, might have a new lease on life as a 3-4 outside linebacker. The same thing is true for Kamerion Wimbley, who was a fish out of water as an end, but could be a pass-rush threat like he was in Cleveland and Oakland now that he is an edge rusher standing up again.

In addition to that, the Titans have added former Broncos Wesley Woodyard to the inside mix and Shaun Phillips to the outside mix. Could those moves make guys like Moise Fokou and Colin McCarthy, both 4-3 middle linebackers, obsolete?

On the offensive side of the ball, the Titans moved on from running back Chris Johnson, who was the focal point of the offensive scheme since being drafted in the first round in 2008. Johnson's departure signals more of a running game by committee and perhaps more of an emphasis on the controlled passing game.

Tennessee will use Shonn Greene as the power back and free-agent pickup Dexter McCluster will be used as a gadget player. But the Titans will find a change of pace back in the draft somewhere to take a portion of the load Johnson handled.

But the emphasis and how far the offense goes this year, with Whisenhunt also serving as play-caller, will depend on if Jake Locker can stay in one piece and be a successful starting quarterback. Those questions can only be answered as the season unfolds.

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League type:
Free Yahoo League
League size:
10 players
Draft time:
Sep 3 9:00 am
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