AFC South: Calvin Pryor

An offensive lineman or a safety in the first round for the Tennessee Titans wouldn't solve an immediate problem for the team.

I've made a case they can't go that direction.

But general manager Ruston Webster said Tuesday on my Nashvile radio show that he has to weigh the strengths of this draft with pending needs.

A limited role for the first-round pick in his first year "would be a little hard to swallow, yes," Webster said. The Titans, after all, were 7-9, had a major coaching change and figure to have room for rookie impact.

"You always want those guys to come in and contribute early, you'd love for them to," Webster said. "More importantly you want him to have an impact over time …

"You've got to think a little bit about the future. And what next year brings. I think that's part of drafting, understanding where you might be light in a year. And there are certain positions where there is no guarantee you can get that guy every year."

As I said there, that means offensive tackle is in play, and Taylor Lewan or Zach Martin after a trade down is the possibility there. Michael Roos is in a contract year and though the team has high hopes for free-agent addition Michael Oher, the Ttians wrote a contract that would let them out of the deal after one year for a total of $6 million.

It can also mean safety, where George Wilson has only a year left, Bernard Pollard has two and Michael Griffin is due a $6.3 million salary and an $8.1 million salary-cap number in 2015. Alabama's Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Louisville's Calvin Pryor have both visited the Titans during draft build-up.
The Tennessee Titans have hosted Alabama’s Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Louisville’s Calvin Pryor on pre-draft visits.

Too much can be made of those visits.

I don’t think Tennessee can draft a player in the first round who wouldn’t be expected to play right away.

While commitment to players can certainly change as a new coaching staff takes over, Michael Griffin is entrenched as the starting free safety alongside strong safety Bernard Pollard. George Wilson was a quality third safety in 2013.

If the Titans surprised as with Clinton-Dix or Pryor, would that mean the end of Griffin?

He signed a five-year, $35 million deal in 2012 that came with $15 million guaranteed including a $9 million signing bonus. So far he’s collected $19 million of that.

Griffin’s base salary kicks up to $6.2 million this year. It was $3.5 million last year.

I don’t think a scenario where the Titans draft a safety and make a move with Griffin is at all likely.

But if they decide Clinton-Dix or Pryor is their man in the first round, maybe after a trade down, they won’t have playing time for four healthy safeties.

At his best, Griffin plays a solid centerfield. At his worst, he takes bad angles and misses too many tackles.

If he were a surprising cut, the Titans would swallow $5.4 million in remaining signing bonus, which would amount to an $800,000 savings. (If the move came after June 1 or was designated as after June 1, they could take $1.8 million of that hit in 2014 and the remaining $3.6 million in 2015.)

They have quite a bit of free money right now, so it wouldn’t be a move made out of financial need.

The Titans haven’t had an offensive tackle in for a visit as far as we know.

Greg Robinson and Jake Matthews will be gone before the Titans go on the clock. Taylor Lewan is widely regarded as the third-best tackle and could be a good value at No. 11 or after a trade down.

In 2015, the Titans could be in need of a new left tackle. Michael Roos is entering the ninth year of his career and the final year of his contract, which is worth $6.625 million.

But picking a tackle at No. 11 would give the Titans three starting tackles in 2013 -- the newcomer, Roos, and Michael Oher. The Titans signed Oher, the veteran Baltimore tackle, to a four-year, $20 million free-agent contract. They could get out of that after one year and $6 million.

As with safety, it would be odd roster construction to draft a tackle given what the Titans currently have on the roster.

I think we’ll see them going a different direction.
INDIANAPOLIS -- The initial thought by the Indianapolis Colts and safety Antoine Bethea was that they would have a chance to work out a new deal during the offseason.

Those thoughts changed as the offseason progressed because the communication between the two sides got less and less.

Then, it happened. Bethea, who started every game he played in during his eight years with the Colts, signed a deal with the San Francisco 49ers on the same day free agency started on March 11.

“It’s tough to have to replace a guy that this organization had for eight years and played the way he played and what he did for the Colts and the city,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. “It’s a harsh reality of today’s NFL -- you can’t keep everybody, and that’s what hurt. But you have to move on.”

Like general manager Ryan Grigson, Pagano talked about Delano Howell and Sergio Brown as potential in-house candidates to replace Bethea alongside LaRon Landry at safety.

The Colts' coach turned his attention to the draft and said they would like to select a safety.

“There are some great safeties in the draft,” Pagano said. “We have our board set, we’ll tweak it as we go through the month of April, go to pro days and gather information on the draft. We’ll see how the draft goes and how the board is once we get to our first pick. It’ll be nice to get a young one in the fold, but we’ll see how it goes.”

Here are the top 10 safeties in the May draft according to Scouts Inc. Alabama's Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Louisville's Calvin Pryor are projected to be first-round picks.