JOE BIDDLE: Draft day full of uncertainty for Titans
By Joe Biddle, Sports Columnist
After weeks and months of speculating, we will know before the clock strikes midnight which player the Titans drafted in the first round.
A couple of things for certain: The draft is rich with the Big Uglies, also known as offensive and defensive linemen. The draft is Skid Row poor when it comes to quarterbacks.
Since the draft seems void of can’t-miss star power, Sports Illustrated senior writer Peter King predicts there will be a lot of teams at the top of the draft dying to drop down and still get comparable value with their first pick.
Since the Titans became ultra-active in free agency, they filled some needs. The top acquisition was Bills guard Andy Levitre. For a team whose owner has let it be known it will be playoffs or pink slips for coaches and front office personnel alike, they can’t afford to make a mistake in the early rounds of the draft. They can’t wait on first through fourth round picks to mature and develop into starters.
NFL.com has a panel of analysts that provided their first round picks. There were eight of them, including former NFL GM Charley Casserly, former University of Tennessee star Charles Davis and veteran NFL personnel evaluator Gil Brandt.
North Carolina guard/center Jonathan Cooper led the voting with three. Alabama guard Chance Warmack and Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei followed with two votes each and Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro got one vote.
Check your scorecard tonight.
I don’t see the Titans taking a safety in the first round, especially at No. 10. Is Vaccaro worth the 10th pick? The last Texas safety they drafted in the first round (19th) has yet to become a player you can trust every game. That would be Michael Griffin, who signed a significant contract extension last year.
I think the Titans have Warmack at the top of their wish list, but I don’t see him dropping to them. He is being touted as a 12-15 year starter at guard.
They signed a tender on center/guard Fernando Velasco, whose best position is center, where he started last season. If they think they have solidified the offensive line through free agency, the may take a poor man’s Jevon Kearse in LSU linebacker/defensive end Barkevious Mingo. He is a physical pass rusher who plays on the perimeter and is relentless in pursuit.
In a mock draft by PredictionMachine.com, the Titans will take Florida State defensive end Bjoern Werner with the 10th pick. This is a mock draft that heavily leans on a team’s needs. And getting to opposing quarterbacks is no doubt a need for the Titans.
Based on his production in college, Werner would be a good fit. He chalked up 49 tackles behind the line in the last two years with the Seminoles. The junior had 13 sacks last season. He did not play the game until he was 15 years old as a foreign exchange student.
The Berlin, Germany native has a high ceiling, but his strength and quickness is natural. He is projected to go between 15 and 20, and I have no idea where he is on the Titans draft board. But if Warmack and Cooper should be off the board, a young, athletic defensive end would be a good fit. Werner is married, so one would think he would take his job more seriously than someone without obligations.
The Titans drafted the Freak. He turned out OK. Why not take the Germanator?
The draft is a crapshoot, making teams think on their feet when unexpected changes occur. Although this is a draft that is expected to have limited movement, you never know.
There is one thing you can count on. It is hands down the best second guessing event in sports.
Sports Columnist Joe Biddle is a four-time sports writer of the year in Tennessee and a 2013 inductee to the Tennessee Sports Writers Association Hall of Fame. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted on: 4/25/2013