Tennessee Titans 2006 Draft Preview
By Colin Lindsay
Posted February 15th, 2006
Colin Lindsey, editor and publisher of the Great Blue North Draft
Report, will be sharing his thoughts on the Tennessee Titans
draft in a series of articles leading up to the 2006 NFL Draft.
Titans turning corner???
No, thatís not a dig at the Pacman, the enigmatic CB the Titansí
selected in a controversial move with the 6th pick at the 2005 draft.
However, after two very uncharacteristic down years, Tennessee fans can
only hope as the team heads in to the 2006 draft with the 3rd pick
overall, the Titans highest pick in over a decade. Ironically, the
Titans also had the 3rd pick in 1995 which they used to pick QB Steve
McNair who has been one of the best in league and the Titansí leader
ever since. Adding to the irony is that the Titans are pretty much a
lock to use the 3rd pick this year on McNairís ultimate replacement,
most likely Texas junior QB Vince Young, who emerged as a legitimate
candidate to be the #1 player taken this year after leading the
Longhorns to that dramatic win over Southern Cal in the Rose Bowl for
the national title.
To QB or not to QB that is the question!!!
(To quote the bard whom Iím told was indeed something of a Titansí
fan.) Things can change, of course, between now and April 29th,
however, it appears already to be pretty much a lock that the Titans
will select Young with the third pick overall at the 2006 draft.
Houston, which has the top pick overall, has apparently re-committed to
David Carr, the #1 selection overall in 2002, and will almost certainly
select Southern Cal RB Reggie Bush with the top pick. Meanwhile, it
also appears that QB Matt Leinart, Bushís Southern Cal backfield mate,
will end up in New Orleans which has the second pick overall. Leinart
is a far more polished passer than Young and likely will be the better
fit in the kind of offense that new Saintsí head coach Sean Payton is
going to try and install in New Orleans. And that should leave Young,
who many draft analysts feel is the best prospect overall this year,
for the Titans.
Despite the accolades, though, Young is still something of a boom-or-bust type prospect.
No question Young is a great athlete with a cannon of an arm. However,
we always worry about a player who makes his reputation doing something
other than what heís going to have to do in the NFL. In this case,
Young went from being a very interesting prospect to the potential top
pick overall based on his performance in just one game, the Rose Bowl.
And while Young was sensational in the Longhornsí win over Bush,
Leinart and the rest of the Trojans, he did it mostly with his legs,
whereas heíll have to win games through the air at the next level. And
while he has a cannon of an arm and throws well on the move, Young has
lousy mechanics in the pocket and has yet to prove he can consistently
find a receiver in tight coverage. Getting the opportunity to sit and
learn for a couple of years behind a veteran like McNair, though, would
be about the best thing that could happen to Young.
The Titans draft starts here... One
thing Titansí fans will have to get used to over the course of the next
couple of months is the fact that the selection of Young with the 3rd
overall pick could very well be end up being rather anti-climactic once
the pick is made sometime around 12:40 PM ET on the 29th of April.
Meaning, for many Titansí loyalists, the real draft wonít start until
the second round. And while the Titans will be thrilled to add a young
QB with elite potential for the future, the teamís most immediate needs
are on defense which has big holes at LB and safety.
The top LBs in the 2006 draft class, such as A.J. Hawk of Ohio State,
DeMeco Ryans of Alabama, Chad Greenway of Iowa and Florida State junior
Ernie Sims will be long gone by the time the Titans make their second
round pick. However, the Titans certainly should have a shot at either
or both of talented MLB prospects Abdul Hodge of Iowa and DíQwell
Jackson of Maryland, the top two inside backers in the 2006 draft
field. Physically the two are like two peas in a pod: they are both a
tad undersized at around 6-0, 230 and both run just under 4.7 in the
40. The similarities end there though as Iowaís Hodge is something of a
heat-seeking missile who is very aggressive defending the run, but
looks a little lost sometimes in coverage, while Jackson is very good
in coverage, but not as dominating defending the run. There is a major
drop-off at MLB after those two; however, the Titans should have
options at the position in the 4th round (Tennessee doesnít have a 3rd
rounder this year having traded it to Buffalo last year to acquire RB
Travis Henry) such as players like Gerris Wilkinson of Georgia Tech,
Justin London of UCLA, Kai Parham of Virginia, Fred Roach of Alabama or
Nick Reid of Kansas -- each of whom is a productive player in his own
right. However, they all lack the overall athleticism and instincts of
Hodge and Jackson.
The Titans could also look at an OLB such as Thomas Howard of UTEP or
Bobby Carpenter of Ohio State with their #2 pick. Again, though, they
are very different players. Howard, with reported 4.45 speed, for
example, is fast and athletic, however, he has questionable instincts
and isnít all that physical at the point of attack. Carpenter, on the
other hand, has prototype SSLB size, plus has very good speed (4.55) of
his own, but isnít overly athletic and still has to prove that he can
be an every down player at the next level. What may put a little extra
pressure on the Titans to take one of the OLBs at #39 is that there
really isnít much depth at the position and the chances of getting
someone who can contribute on the second day arenít as strong as they
are at other positions of need such as ILB and DT.
Safety first or last as the case may beÖ
Other than LB, the Titansí major area of concern on defense is at
safety where the team is likely to undergo a complete makeover this
coming season. And there is something of a good news, bad news story as
far as the Titansí aspirations at the position at the 2006 draft go.
The bad news is that this yearís safety class has little in the way of
star potential. Indeed, its possible that no pure safety will be
selected at all in this yearís opening round, although CBs Michael Huff
of Texas and Jimmy Williams of Virginia Tech, both of whom are expected
to gone within the first 20 picks this year, are converted safeties who
could ultimately end up at FS in the pros. The Titans may also hope
that a player like South Carolina star sophomore FS Ko Simpson slips
down to the 39th pick, but thatís highly unlikely. Instead, the
safeties the Titans are likely to be looking at with their #2 pick
would be former SEC stars like Greg Blue of Georgia or Jason Allen of
Tennessee. However, both would appear to be reaches at #39, although
Allen was considered to be a potential first rounder at CB prior to
hurting a knee this year.
The good news for the Titans at safety is that there is some depth at
the position and there should be some decent options when the Titans
make their 4th round pick. Safeties that would be in the early
second-day mix this coming April include the likes of Daniel Bullocks
of Nebraska, Purdue junior Bernard Pollard, Roman Harper of Alabama,
Pat Watkins of Florida State and Dawan Landry of Georgia Tech.
There's a little more good news of sorts re the safety position and
that's the fact that the position could be something of a strength in
2007 where top FSs Brandon Meriweather of Miami and LaRon Landry of LSU
surprised the NFL and opted to return to school for their senior years.
They will be joined by solid veterans Will Herring of Georgia and
Michael Griffen of Texas at FS and Jesse Daniels of LSU and Eric Weddle
of Utah at SS. Again, though, there wonít necessarily be a lot of
depth at either position come April 2007.
We'll be back next month with some thoughts on trade possibilities for
the Titans as well as an overview of the other positions the Titans
likely will be focused on at the 2006 draft.