Defensive End: The Tennessee Titans’ biggest draft need?

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Depending on the outcome of a coin flip, the Tennessee Titans will be on the clock with the 16th or 17th pick in April’s 2010 NFL Draft.

According to early mock drafters, the Titans would be wise to invest in the defensive end position with their first pick. Considering the questionable returns of veterans Kyle Vanden Bosch and Jevon Kearse and a decrease in sack production last year, draft prognosticators, at least in the early going of the process that culminates in April, are convinced that DE is the way to go with the Titans’ first selection.

Personally, I have mixed feelings about the Titans possibly going in the direction of DE with their first round pick.

Maybe that’s because I’m high on the continued development of William “Big Play” Hayes, who, contrary to Mel Kiper’s anything but lofty expectations, appears to be headed towards establishing himself as a pretty solid player in this league. Opposite of him is sack specialist Jacob Ford, who isn’t strong against the run but is more than capable of getting after opposing signal-callers.

Another reason why I’m not that comfortable with selecting a DE in the first round is the possibility that there are greater area of needs on the defensive side of the football. Considering Nick Harper’s decline, the team may decide to venture towards the CB position to fuflill the team’s 1st round needs.

Another possibility is DT, where Albert Haynesworth’s absence probably served as the biggest reason for the team’s decline in the sack category in 2009. If there’s a penetrating DT with the size to take up blockers while opening up opportunities for the likes of Ford and Hayes at DE, the Titans may not want to pass up on the opportunity to secure the services of that type of impact player.

So what do you think, guys? What are your thoughts/opinions towards the “experts” belief that DE is the team’s biggest need that should be solved with the Titans’ first-round selection?

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10 Responses to “Defensive End: The Tennessee Titans’ biggest draft need?”

  1. Shawn Smith Says:

    The draft can be influenced by so much especially for teams picking the mid-to-late portion of the draft in the first round…so, I wouldn’t be surprised that the Titans end up drafting a DE in the first round but I don’t think it’s the team’s greatest need at the moment.

    I think our greatest need is to find a starting CB opposite of Finnegan, who will make the pass rush better by providing tighter coverage. However, I think it will be better to find that person in free agency than the draft considering how much of a need I think it is to have a proven starter now (Dunta Robinson should be available). From there, I think our greatest needs are: kick returner, defensive end, outside linebacker, and defensive tackle. Returner is obvious considering how far the Titans fell in special teams…Javier Arenas from Alabama in the 3rd round would be a good pick. The other three positions can be filled via the draft depending on how the picks fall…the top 2 DTs will probably be gone by the time the Titans pick (Suh and McCoy) and DE is pretty deep in this year’s draft so there should be a solid player available. So, we’ll just have to see…

  2. Bob Loblaw Says:

    The only DE I would want in the 1st is Jason Pierre-Paul. The guy is a little raw, but if you watch his youtube, it looks like the sky is the limit. (does need to improve in run support) Watch Carlos Dunlap and you see a guy who is stout against the run, but seems to take some plays off and doesn’t follow in pursuit once the play is downfield (the anti-KVB). There isn’t really anyone else I would want the Titans to take at that spot in the first based on who’s out there, though I don’t follow the college game that closely.

    If Pierre-Paul is gone, maybe trade (for two 2s, or trade down in the first several times for a couple of threes). If they get extra picks, Golden Tate might be nice as a return man, but I’m not too keen on taking another WR that high with all the holes on defense. I like DT Terrence Cody if they get a 2 in a trade (370 lbs!). Though he doesn’t fit the mold of the DTs the Titans have been drafting, I think he might be able to command a few double teams.

    I agree that CB is a real area of need, but it doesn’t look like a great year for top-end corners. And though Hayes looked decent this year, I’m not as high on him as many others seem to be. He’s stout against the run, but doesn’t have the pass-rush moves to be a real difference maker. I think he’d actually make a nice three-technique if the Titans didn’t have a bunch of those guys already. I would rather go after Dunta Robinson or spend a mid-round pick at that CB. Coverage was bad this year, but the pass rush was atrocious.

    As much as anything, I would like to see the Titans go one draft without taking a WR or a TE.

    • Scott Says:

      Bob, I am not sold on Pierre-Paul. I watched him in the International Bowl and, with the exception of an early sack, he was barely noticeable out there. And that was against a fairly weak Nothern Illinois team. I agree with you on Dunlap though. What about Jerry Hughes from TCU? He might be a little smaller, but his production (11.5 sacks this year and 15 as a Junior) are pretty impressive.

      • Bob Loblaw Says:

        Yeah, that guy looks good – nice moves inside & excellent at turning the corner. Seems to use his speend & lack of height to his advantage in getting around OTs. Looks like a good tackler & shows hustle. He definitely looks more polished than P-P.

  3. Scott Says:

    Depending, of course, on what happens in free agency, I think the Titans take the best defensive player available (who is a CB, DE or DT) in the first round. If Bulluck and Thornton aren’t back, then perhaps a OLB is even a possibility at the 16 or 17 spot. The defence seemed to have so many holes this year that the Titans just need to take the best defensive player available when they pick in the first round.

    Like you Drex, I kind of think that the DE position is not the greatest position of need on the Titans defence. However, if Fisher (and more importantly Washburn) think that there is a monster player at DE available in the first round when they pick, I say go ahead and take him.

    I also agree with Shawn that kick/punt returner is a huge need on this team. With two third round picks (which includes the compensatory pick for the loss of Albert), the Titans should be able to find a CB (like Arenas) or WR in the third round that has effective return abilities.

  4. Andrew Strickert Says:

    I’m amused that the experts always assume there will be no movement in free agency, that every team will be able to keep everyone they want and that no team will improve itself.

    I’m interested to see which DEs will hit the free agent market in March and especially interested to see what the Vikings will do with Ray Edwards. I’m sure they’ll try first to re-sign him to a new deal. I doubt if the Vikes let him get away but they also have to take care of Chester Taylor and Tarvaris Jackson. If Edwards does become available, he’ll be expensive and I doubt if the Titans would commit to that but I think he’d sure look good in two-tone blue. (With the Williamses and Jared Allen also on that d-line, Edwards is kind of the forgotten man.)

    One thing to consider about a DE in the draft – the Titans also had a mid-round pick in the first round once, which they used to acquire Kearse. The Freak’s speed off the edge changed that entire defense and helped transform a three-year 8-8 team to 13-3 and a Super Bowl run. I haven’t looked yet at the 2010 draft but if there’s someone like that out there, I think you have to take him.

  5. Drexel Perry Says:

    Ray Edwards is guy who stands out and if there’s any way possible, I also wouldn’t mind him ending up in Nashville.

    As always, good thoughts from all of you. As we get closer to the draft, I’m sure this will be the first of many conversations we have regarding what the Titans will do with pick #16/17.

  6. 2010 Senior Bowl: Possible Tennessee Titan draft options « Total Titans Says:

    […] to many, defensive end is the direction the Titans appear to be headed in with their first round […]

  7. Happy trails, KVB? « Total Titans Says:

    […] Ford and William Hayes stepping up and according to mock drafters, the real possibility of adding a first-round talent at DE, the Titans are in the midst of a youth movement at the […]

  8. Tennessee Titans offseason positional analysis: Defensive end « Total Titans Says:

    […] The lack of a reliable outside pass rush was one of the Titans’ biggest problems last year. Couple that with the impending loss of several players and you have a double whammy. Because of these two reasons, defensive end is the number one priority the Titans need to address this offseason, either through free agency, the draft, or possibly both. (See Drexel’s post on whether DE is the Titans biggest offseason need.) […]

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