Tuesday, May 6, 2014
The trouble with everyone at No. 11
By Paul Kuharsky
The Titans are in a nice spot because they are not desperate to fill need at No. 11 in the first round of the NFL draft on Thursday night.
But everyone I look at as a possibility at No. 11 comes with some kind of question mark. These are great players and I hate the part where, largely because of how much time we have, we pick them apart to a ridiculous degree.
That’s not the objective here.
I want to look at the Titans-specific questions that would arise with each of these guys if they are Tennessee's pick. Some are bigger than others. Let’s go in order of smallest questions to biggest.
Of the players likely to be available at No. 11, Justin Gilbert (right) might have the best shot at making an immediate contribution.
Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert. He might have the best opportunity of any of these guys to have an immediate role and impact. His blazing speed sets him apart. While the knock on him is that he's not physical enough and not good in run support, the Titans will play more man-to-man. And man-to-man cornerbacks need to cover far more than they need to be physical or be premier tacklers.
Alabama inside linebacker C.J. Mosley. It's hard to find many holes in his game beyond some durability questions. Though the Titans have a lot of guys at their two inside spots in the 3-4, only free-agent addition Wesley Woodyard and holdover Moise Fokou have real NFL experience in the system. But do you want to use a premium pick at this position? Like running back, inside linebackers are often seen as a commodity that can be found later.
UCLA outside linebacker Anthony Barr. He's very intriguing, but he needs to add strength. Many don't think he's an every-down player at the start, though he could be a factor as a pass-rusher. He's still relatively new to the position. And the Titans -- with Kamerion Wimbley, Shaun Phillips, Akeem Ayers and Derrick Morgan -– could actually be set at the position, for now.
Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. Coverage guys for the middle of the field are at a premium, and Clinton-Dix is going to be a good one. But as with an offensive tackle, the Titans wouldn't have a spot for him this year with Michael Griffin, Bernard Pollard and George Wilson in line as the top three. That's an aging group and Clinton-Dix would add a jolt of youth and a long-term solution. But in 2014, barring injury, he could be a situational defender and a special-teamer.
Any offensive tackle. There could be a great one available. I can't see Jake Matthews slipping that far. Taylor Lewan might. And Zach Martin is well liked by a lot of people, though the fourth tackle is likely to be drafted in the late teens. The Titans could be a year away from needing a tackle -- or even two. Michael Roos is entering the final year of his deal. Michael Oher's four-year, $20 million deal has an out after one year and $6 million if he doesn't pan out.
Pitt defensive tackle Aaron Donald. He has a very impressive work ethic and would be a hugely popular player with coaches and teammates. But he's 285 pounds and would likely have the same role in the Titans' new 3-4 as Jurrell Casey, their best defensive player. In the old 4-3, he'd be ideal. As good as he is, he's probably too light to be a great fit for what this team wants to do going forward.