Titans address biggest offseason need in Mel Kiper’s first mock draft

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Mike Moraitis
·3 min read
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It’s no secret that the Tennessee Titans need to seriously upgrade their pass rush going into the 2021 campaign after a putrid showing in that area in 2020.

After finishing near the middle of the pack in sacks in 2019, the Titans had the third-fewest in the NFL in 2020 with 19, which was also tied for the fewest in a 16 game in NFL history for a playoff team.

There were several disappointments to speak of that led to that result. Harold Landry failed to take that next step in his third season, and free-agent signings Jadeveon Clowney and Vic Beasley both failed miserably.

As we saw in Super Bowl LV, having a good to great pass rush can win championships, as it was the driving force behind the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ defense slowing down Patrick Mahomes.

Aside from free agency, general manager Jon Robinson should be looking to the draft for help, and ESPN’s Mel Kiper has him doing just that in his first mock draft of the year.

At No. 22 overall, Kiper has pegged Miami EDGE Gregory Rousseau to Tennessee, which is a name we have seen several times in multiple mock drafts this offseason.

This has to be an edge rusher, right? The Titans had a putrid pass rush last season, finishing with 19 total sacks, which was only two more than the last-ranked Bengals. They got very little from free-agent signing Jadeveon Clowney, and leading sacker Harold Landry finished with only 5.5. That’s not good enough for a team that thinks it’s a Super Bowl contender. Six-foot-7 Rousseau, another opt-out, had 15.5 sacks in a breakout 2019 season, but he doesn’t have an elite first step and needs to add some moves to his repertoire. With only one year of production and no live football in a year, he’s another wild card in his class. But again, teams love pass-rushers, so he could be in demand.

Rousseau posted an eye-opening 15.5 sacks and 19.5 tackles for loss in 2019, but he opted out of the 2020 season, so there isn’t a ton of tape on the 6-foot-7, 265-pound prospect.

As currently constituted, the only pick that would make nearly as much sense as an edge rusher in this spot would be an interior defensive lineman who can replace DaQuan Jones, a free-agent-to-be. Alabama’s Christian Barmore has become a popular name in Titans circles early on.

Which avenue the Titans ultimately go will depend upon what the team does in free agency, which comes more than one month before the draft, and who is ultimately available when they’re on the clock.

Robinson’s first priority should be adding a veteran pass rusher from the open market, as that provides a better chance for the immediate impact the Titans need. If he does that, the Titans may not opt to take an EDGE this early.

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