LDE is becoming more of a priority for the Titans

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I doubt if Titans d-line coach Jim Washburn has been sleeping as well lately as he would have liked.
This afternoon I heard from Tennessean beat writer Jim Wyatt on the free agency front about the status of Tennessee’s left defensive ends. It’s not good news for Wash or for Titans fans.
The agent for Antwan Odom says he has not yet received an offer from the Titans. Seems to me that Tennessee GM Mike Reinfeldt thinks other teams are about to overvalue him, as I opined earlier in my positional review of the DEs. Has Reinfeldt resigned himself to the strong possibility of another team offering stupid money to him?
Travis LaBoy’s brother, who is also his agent, has said in so many words that Reinfeldt made an offer to them which was not acceptable.
It looks like neither Odom nor LaBoy will be signed before Thursday night’s free agency deadline, which leaves a gaping hole (pun not really intended) at the left defensive end spot.
So where will the Titans go from there?
There’s not really anybody on the potential free agent market that I see as much of an improvement (for a reasonable price) over Odom or LaBoy. Could one of them prove to be an adequate, though not great replacement?
I don’t see anyone on the current roster who could fill the bill. Bryce Fisher, Sean Conover and Kevin Vickerson are not the answers.
That leaves the draft. A first day pick seems to be the best answer but the highest rated ones will be gone before the Titans select with the 24th pick. Assuming that neither Alge Crumpler nor Donte’ Stallworth are acquired in free agency, the Titans may very well use their first two picks on a receiver and tight end, which means that the team wouldn’t be able to select a defensive end until the third round. That’s assuming, of course, Mike Reinfeldt drafts according to need rather than best player available.
NFLDraft101 projects six DEs as first-round draft picks, but only four more in the second and third rounds.
If the Titans elect to select a player earlier than the third round, you can read brief profiles about the top seven candidates right here on MVN’s NFL Draft University. Several of those DEs will be available when the Titans draft at #24 and a couple should still be on the board when it’s the Titans’ turn to select in Round Two.
I’m not all that excited about the possibility of even a first-round draft pick making much of a difference. I haven’t seen a rookie DE having an immediate impact in the league since Tennessee drafted OLB Jevon Kearse and converted him into a DE. Of course, a rookie might still be able to perform well enough to not be too much of a dropoff or not to be considered as too much of a liability.
Is there another freak in the draft and will the Titans use their first round pick to select him?
I doubt it, but I’d like to hear your thoughts.

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10 Responses to “LDE is becoming more of a priority for the Titans”

  1. Mike Says:

    You are right Bryce Fisher is not the answer. I bet they bring back the Freak!! Kearse will be available and on the cheap, I am just not sure he is better than Odom or Laboy

  2. Josh Says:

    We need Odom. Not Kearse. Odom proved himself this year and the chemistry the defense had this year was great. We need to lock him up!

  3. Jacob Says:

    You’re right Kevin Vickerson isn’t the answer at D-End. Thats because he’s a tackle. Kearse will be back, not to replace Odom, but to fill the gap like Laboy did last season.

  4. Andrew Says:

    Although Kearse might return to the Titans, nobody should expect him to be what he once was. He’s well into the twilight of his career and I doubt if he can contribute more than 20 plays a game. He’d be an expensive backup and you wouldn’t get much bang for the buck (same with Bryce Fisher).
    Kevin Vickerson is a DT, as Jacob noted, but there’s been a little talk of him at DE. I’m not sure why, and that’s all it has been, to my knowledge, just talk.
    Another option would be to move Tony Brown outside. He has played DE before and would certainly be better than anyone else now on the team to replace Odom & LaBoy. The problem with that is it’s robbing Peter to pay Paul. If you move Tony to DE, that creates a new problem at DT.
    Thanks for your comments, guys.

  5. Jacob Says:

    Kearse won’t cost the Titans much of anything. Its worth while for Kearse to play one year under Washburn, prove if he has anything left and move on. Rosenhaus will be all for it, that way it’ll take some of the sting from trying to rake the Titans over Jacob Bell.
    Vickerson and Brown both lack the speed to play end in the NFL. They will let Laboy walk and Odom test the market. Odds are neither will be back, and the Titans will look at DE in the draft, especially if they get a wide reciever in free agency. They may make a move to get Derrick Harvey.

  6. I.jason Says:

    What do you suppose the odds are that Goodell reinstates Pac just before the draft, and we can package him and our first-rounder (and maybe a 4th?) to move up?

  7. Drexel Perry Says:

    I wouldn’t be shocked to see Kearse join his ex- defensive coordinator Gregg Williams in Jacksonville.
    For sentimental reasons, it would be nice to see Kearse in a Titans uniform again but as of late, his injuries have caused him to miss a lot of time on the playing field.
    Good article, Andrew.

  8. Andrew Says:

    l.jason, I’m with you, but I haven’t heard anything new on the Pacman front. Last I heard was when the Titans gave Pac permission to seek a trade and when Goodell indicated it would be around training camp before he made a decision on the suspension. Too bad for the Titans, in so far as I’d rather see a trade happen in time for this year’s draft as opposed to being applied to next year’s.
    I agree with Drexel about the sentimental reception Kearse would receive from Titans’ fans. He did a lot for the organization in their first full year in their new home and will long be appreciated for that.
    Unfortunately, he had more games played than total tackles last year. Ouch! If all of the Titans’ defensive players had similar stats, the leading tackler would have only 15 tackles. We’d have to round them all up, one at a time, and tie them to the whipping post.

  9. I.jason Says:

    Of course, the other option, and perhaps even the better option, is to wind up shopping Pac after the draft, to the teams that didn’t manage to get their needs filled in the draft, and might be in something of a panic as the “top-tier” free agents are off the market. Rather than draft picks, we might even get a decent player back that fills one of our needs.
    Odom and LaBoy aren’t really that great. They have (as has been mentioned in the Tennessean) benefited greatly from playing opposite KVB and Hanesworth. Now, if it were a single player who’s racked up 14.4 sacks over there, I’d feel pressure to re-sign them, but split between the two of them, the numbers are average, at best. Like the rest of the D-line, they were not difference makers when Albert was out. My guess is that a solid, middle-tier DE would do just as well over there (Justin Smith would probably be a monster, but I’d settle for a Marques Douglas or a Joe Tafoya splitting time with a draft pick).
    Frankly, I’d rather see the Titans go after another horse of a DT to put next to (and possibly replace) Albert in the middle than to see them over-spend on any DE. Could you imagine a Corey Williams next to Albert and KVB? My granny could play LDE on that line!
    Of course, that’s not going to happen, but perhaps a later, post-draft trade of Pacman might net a solid DE or DT, rather than a hit-or-miss draft pick in what is a rather shallow draft class this year.

  10. Andrew Says:

    The reports that Pacman has been given permission to seek a trade are now being denied by the Titans.
    I agree with you, l.jason, as I noted in my offseason positional review of the defensive ends, when I wrote Odom benefited from KVB and Albert at the other end of the line, which also implied that LaBoy was a beneficiary as well. Beefing up the d-line at LDT would also not hurt. I’m sure I pointed out at least once that Brown had problems during Haynesworth’s absence, but can’t find a quick link to it. We’re definitely on the same page here.
    Corey Williams was slapped with the franchise tag by the Packers but it’s now reported they’re going to trade him. It won’t happen, but imagine having two franchised DTs. I’ll bet Jim Washburn would get more than a little excited about the prospect of that.

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