2013 Titans draft needs: Quarterback situation isn't concrete, but Tennessee has more pressing needs

John Harris
Yahoo! Sports

LAST SEASON Rush Offense - 105.4 ypg (21st)
Pass Offense - 207.7 ypg (22nd)
Total Offense - 313.1 ypg (26th)
Scoring Offense - 20.6 ppg (23rd)
Rush Defense - 127.2 ypg (24th)
Pass Defense - 247.8 ypg (26th)
Total Defense - 374.9 ypg (27th)
Scoring Defense - 29.4 ppg (32nd) MOST PRESSING NEEDS Offense: Guard (maybe two), running back, tight end
Defense: Difference-makers up front and in the secondary

Quarterback The Draft Board

4th round QB Landry Jones, Oklahoma (6-4, 221)
QB EJ Manuel, Florida St. (6-4, 237)
QB Matt Scott, Arizona (6-2, 202) 5th round QB Brad Sorensen, SUU (6-4, 237) 7th round QB Jordan Rodgers, Vanderbilt (6-1, 212)
QB Colby Cameron, La. Tech (6-2, 210)

The Titans went out on a limb when they selected Jake Locker with the eighth pick in the 2011 Draft. Considering that six of the seven players selected ahead of Locker have been named to a Pro Bowl roster, including Carolina's Cam Newton, the pressure is on Locker. He only played 11 games last season because of a big hit by Houston Texans S Glover Quin, which slowed any progress he had made to that point. I wouldn't imagine that Locker has garnered a ton of support within the Titans' hierarchy, but what other options are there? Matt Hasselbeck doesn't have much left and a rookie in this class isn't ready to start on Day 1. However, competition is always a necessity, so the Titans could take a chance on a "falling" gunslinger in the 4th round or later. There are too many holes on this squad to draft a project QB any earlier than that.

Jones or Manuel could be enticing if they're on the board in the fourth round. Rodgers, the brother of Green Bay's star quarterback, made significant strides as the hometown quarterback from Vandy, but he's a late rounder who would compete for the third QB spot.

Running Back The Draft Board

3rd round RB Le'Veon Bell, Michigan St. (6-2, 244)
RB Johnathan Franklin, UCLA (5-10, 201) 4th round RB Christine Michael, Texas A&M (5-10, 221)
RB Kenjon Barner, Oregon (5-9, 188) 5th round RB Jawan Jamison, Rutgers (5-8, 200)
RB Rex Burkhead, Nebraska (5-11, 210) 6th round RB Ray Graham, Pitt (5-9, 192) 7th round RB Kerwynn Williams, Utah St. (5-8, 196)

Chris Johnson bounced back with a better season than he had in 2011, but his 1,243 yards rushing were a continued regression back to the mean (the outlier being his 2,006 yards in 2009). He can still produce the electric "house call", but the honest truth is he doesn't seem to be the same back he once was. Suffice to say, the Titans running game has been a disappointment, but the question remains whether it's Johnson or the line. Or both. Regardless, Jamie Harper is the only other running back under contract because Javon Ringer and Darius Reynaud are unrestricted free agents. If the Titans let both walk, it'd be a shock to see them not look at running back by the third round.

Bell is a beast who can pound the rock 25 to 30 times per game, and he's a great receiver out of the backfield. The third round might be a little early to take a RB, given the depth in rounds four and five, and the needs on defense or in the offensive line. Michael was overshadowed by Johnny Manziel in College Station, fought through years of injuries and had a difficult senior season. But Michael is a compact, powerful runner with good second-level burst. His long speed won't wow anyone, but as a tough inside running complement to Johnson, he's perfect. He did have a solid Shrine Bowl performance to show that he's capable of being a next level ball carrier.

Wide Receiver

The big if is whether Kenny Britt can stay clean, out of trouble and healthy during the off-season. The Titans added former Baylor star Kendall Wright to the WR corps last season and nearly every other WR is under contract. With question marks at running back and in the offensive line, the Titans probably won't target a WR until late in the draft, if at all.

Tight End The Draft Board

2nd round TE Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame (6-5, 252)
TE Zach Ertz, Stanford (6-6, 252) 3rd round TE Jordan Reed, Florida (6-3, 243)
TE Travis Kelce, Cincinnati (6-5, 260) 4th round TE Gavin Escobar, SDSU (6-5, 255 ) 5th round TE Vance McDonald, Rice (6-4, 262) 6th round TE Jack Doyle, Western Kentucky (6-5, 254) 7th round TE Philip Lutzenkirchen, Auburn (6-3, 255)

Starting TE Jared Cook is an athletic freak but has only generated pedestrian numbers in large part due to inconsistent play at QB. That said, Cook is an unrestricted free agent whose season ended after a rotator cuff tear in his shoulder in December. It puts the Titans in a difficult spot because when healthy Cook is quite effective. Craig Stevens and Taylor Thompson aren't starting options and won't give the Titans the passing game threats they need. That said, the Titans can find a consistent and dangerous pass catching threat in this year's draft. It's just a matter of whether they'll target one early, eyeing Notre Dame's Tyler Eifert or Stanford's Zach Ertz, or in the mid-to-late rounds.

If the Titans eschew a tight end in the first or second round, Escobar is a good option as a pass receiving TE/H-Back type of player. He's not a physical blocker and will be a liability if the Titans ask him to do that regularly. But, he's an excellent pass receiver who would be a great value in the middle of this draft. Lutzenkirchen is a standout who would have a much higher grade if he hadn't suffered a season-ending hip injury.

Offensive Line The Draft Board

1st round G Chance Warmack, Alabama (6-2, 322)
G Jonathan Cooper, UNC (6-3, 310) 2nd round G Larry Warford, Kentucky (6-3, 333) 3rd round C/G Barrett Jones, Alabama (6-4, 305)
C/G Travis Frederick, Wisconsin (6-4, 338) 5th round G Hugh Thornton, Illinois (6-3, 313) 6th round C/G Braden Hansen, BYU (6-5, 308) 7th round G Lane Taylor, Oklahoma St. (6-2, 328)

As it happens with teams in this league, this unit was allowed to grow old together and it showed in 2012. The Titans started five different combinations in the last half of the season because of injuries and ineffectiveness. Change is expected at guard, where the top three of four on the depth chart are unrestricted free agents. But center isn't settled either because Fernando Velasco is a restricted free agent. What is clear is that the Titans' offense will only go as far as this unit can take it in 2013.

At No. 10, the Titans should have their pick of Warmack or Cooper. Guards aren't sexy first round picks, but what Johnson and his RB mates can do behind a line including Warmack is. If the Titans pass on a guard in the first round, there's little chance either player falls to the second round. In the second, Warford could be the guy, but he's going to create some divide in the draft room. He's not going to impress at the Combine's meat market, but his film doesn't lie as he manhandles men his size.

Defensive Line The Draft Board

1st round DE Bjoern Werner, Florida St. (6-4, 256)
DE Damontre Moore (6-4, 250)
DE Barkevious Mingo, LSU (6-4, 240)
DT Sheldon Richardson, Missouri (6-3, 295) 2nd round DE Alex Okafor, Texas (6-5, 261)
DE/DT Datone Jones, UCLA (6-4, 280) 3rd round DE Malliciah Goodman, Clemson (6-4, 272)
DE Michael Buchanan, Illinois (6-5, 252)
DT Kawann Short, Purdue (6-3, 308)
DT Bennie Logan, LSU (6-3, 295) 4th round DT Jordan Hill, Penn St. (6-2, 294) 5th round DT Josh Boyd, Mississippi St. (6-3, 310) 6th round DT William Campbell, Michigan (6-5, 318)

Unlike the offensive side, the Titans defensive line was able to stay healthy throughout the season and made some progress. DE Derrick Morgan flashed how far he's come since tearing his ACL, while the inside guys, Jurrell Casey and Sen'Derrick Marks, combined for 30 starts. Marks is an unrestricted free agent, so the team must decide whether to bring him back. That said, the defense got destroyed against the run but finished with 11 more sacks than in 2011. It's a group that could be bolstered by some speed off the edge or a chaos-inducing tackle early in the draft. Again, the defensive line class is deep and could provide excellent options well into the second round and maybe even the third.

Werner and Moore will probably be gone by No. 10, but Mingo should be on the board. The Titans should have a shot at one of those three, if they decide to go the pass-rush route early. Richardson is extremely intriguing but he may be off the board as well. Of all the interior options at No. 10, Richardson is the most dynamic. He's explosive off the ball, can push the pocket with his quickness but has the strength of a 315-pound man. Ultimately though, the Titans need speed on the edge, not more size, and Mingo fits that bill and then some.

Linebackers The Draft Board

5th round ILB A.J Klein, Iowa St. (6-1, 246) 7th round ILB Bruce Taylor, Va. Tech (6-1, 234)
OLB Michael Clay, Oregon (5-11, 224)

The Titans have a young group at linebacker, but when fully healthy, it's a unit with potential. ILB Colin McCarthy missed nine games last season. OLB Akeem Ayers is evolving into the player that many thought he would be when he declared early for the 2011 Draft out of UCLA. He played rush end in sub packages and has become a leader. OLB Zach Brown is fast. Real fast. He had a strong season for a rookie and the sky's the limit for him. Depth is a concern, which was evident when McCarthy went down and the Titans' defense struggled. This isn't an ILB draft class to write home about, but the Titans can find value in later rounds, especially to assist on special teams.

Secondary The Draft Board

1st round CB Dee Milliner, Alabama (6-1, 199) 2nd round CB Johnthan Banks, Miss. St. (6-1, 185)
CB Logan Ryan, Rutgers (6-0, 190)
CB Desmond Trufant, Wash. (5-11, 190)
CB Jordan Poyer, Oregon St. (6-0, 182)
S Eric Reid, LSU (6-2, 212)
S Phillip Thomas, Fresno St. (6-1, 210) 3rd round CB David Amerson, NC St. (6-2, 194)
CB Jamar Taylor, Boise St. (5-11, 192)
S Jonathan Cyprien, FIU (6-0, 209)
S Tony Jefferson, Oklahoma (5-11, 212)
S T.J. McDonald, USC (6-2", 211) 4th round CB Leon McFadden, SDSU (5-10, 193)
CB Nickell Robey, USC (5-8, 168)
S Shawn Williams, Georgia (6-0, 211)
S Duke Williams, Nevada (5-11", 201) 5th round CB Terry Hawthorne, Illinois (6-0, 194) 6th round CB Micah Hyde, Iowa (6-0, 196) 7th round S Jahleel Addae, Central Mich. (5-10, 200)

Although the secondary remained intact for most of the season, this group needs significant improvement. The Titans gave up more than 20 yards passing per game on fewer pass attempts than in the previous season. Furthermore, quarterbacks completed a whopping 66.3 percent of their passes against the Titans. Maybe it's a one-year aberration given the youth of the secondary (Jason McCourty is 25 and Alterraun Verner is 24). But finding a safety opposite Michael Griffin could be a draft-day priority, depending on how the draft board shakes out on the second or third day. If they can find an athletic free safety in the first four rounds, they could move Griffin over to strong to get theie best pair of safeties on the field.

Milliner would push either McCourty or Verner to the bench or into a nickel corner spot. Either way, he's an upgrade at a perimeter corner position. But it only makes sense for the Titans to take a CB in the first round if Werner, Moore, Warmack and possibly Cooper are all off the board at No. 10. That said, there are a handful of capable options in the second round, including the star of the Senior Bowl, Desmond Trufant. If the Titans target OL and DL in the first two rounds, the third round is full of secondary options that could fight for a starting spot from Day 1.

John Harris hosts The John Harris Show for Yahoo! Sports Radio.

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