Do the Titans have room for their draft picks?


NFL math can be very complicated or very simple.  The complicated end is the salary cap, and all the fun ways teams can manipulate it.  The very simple end is roster size.  When the Titans take the field in Pittsburgh in 4+ months, they’ll have at most 53 players on the active roster.  The Titans head into this weekend with 10 picks in the 2009 NFL Entry Draft.  But, do the Titans really have room for 10 new players?

There are currently, as I see it, 53 players with a particularly legitimate chance to make the active roster, and 35 players identified in bold I consider pretty much locks.  Sorted by position group these are:

QB: Kerry Collins, Vince Young, Patrick Ramsey (QB #2)
RB: LenDale White, Chris Johnson, Chris Henry, Rafael Little
FB: Ahmard Hall, Casey Cramer
TE: Bo Scaife, Alge Crumpler, Craig Stevens
WR: Paul Williams, Justin Gage, Chris Davis, Mark Jones, Nate Washington, Lavelle Hawkins
OT: Mike Otto, Michael Roos, David Stewart
G: Jake Scott, Eugene Amano, Leroy Harris
C: Kevin Mawae

DT: Jovan Haye, Jason Jones, Kevin Vickerson, Tony Brown
DE: Jacob Ford, Jevon Kearse, Kyle Vanden Bosch, William Hayes, Dave Ball
LB: David Thornton, Ryan Fowler, Keith Bulluck, Stephen Tulloch, Colin Allred, Josh Stamer, Stanford Keglar, Ken Amato (LS)
CB: Nick Harper, Cortland Finnegan, Cary Williams, DeMarcus Faggins
S: Vinny Fuller, Donnie Nickey, Chris Hope, Michael Griffin, Tuff Harris

K: Rob Bironas
P: Craig Hentrich

Obviously not all of these 53 men will make the final roster.  But, every single player listed above was on the active roster last year, a candidate to make the active roster last year who suffered an injury, or a noteworthy veteran acquisition this offseason.

Distributionally speaking, the above list of 53 isn’t quite right.  There are a couple positions the Titans are virtually certain to address in the draft and then carry on the active roster-I’d be very surprised to see the Titans carry only 7 OL, and expect them to draft two, including an OT backup and an interior lineman, and at least 1 to make the 53 man.  CB is another position the Titans will address-even with Fuller to play the nickel, I can’t see Williams or Faggins as for sure the Titans’ #3 CB.  I also have a very difficult time seeing the Titans keep 6 players at the RB/FB position.  4 is more likely, so that may be where you see the OL and CB spaces come from.

Having found space for 2 draft picks, that leaves the Titans with 8 remaining who don’t necessarily have a space on the active roster.  To make the team, these players will have to beat out one of the guys listed above.  That simply won’t happen for all 8, so the Titans are faced with a choice: draft players who you know won’t make the active roster, or turn more picks into fewer picks.  With untradeable compensatory picks in the 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th rounds, the Titans’ trade flexibility is more limited than it would otherwise be, but if there’s a player they’re targeting, they not only can but should be aggressive in trading picks to move up and grab him.

What’s your take?  Dislike any of the 35 guys I listed as locks for the 53 man?  See anybody else out there who you like to make the active roster?  How many of their draft picks can the Titans keep, really?  If the Titans do move up, when should they move up-early on in the first or second, or more like the 4th?


7 Responses to “Do the Titans have room for their draft picks?”

  1. Scott Says:

    Excellent point Tom. I think the Titans are going to be involved in a few trades on the weekend for the very reason that you suggest. They don’t need 10 more players and they certainly won’t have anywhere near ten roster spots available for guys picked in the leter rounds of the draft. If they think there is a chance they will not get a player at their draft position, they will not hesitate to trade up to get the guy they want.
    The one guy you left off your list is Ganther, who I think passed Henry on the depth chart last year at RB. I don’t think he is a “lock” to make the team however.
    I think that the number of “locks” or “near-locks” for the team is also higher than 35. Rafael Little will make the team this year. The Titans didn’t pay him for a year just to cut him in training camp. Hawkins is also a near-lock. Given the lack of depth at the WR position and the fact that he has had only one year to prove himself, I would be shocked if he didn’t make the team this year. At least two out of the 3 DEs (Ford, Kearse and Ball) will be on the 53 man roster. I also think that Stamer is a lock given his special teams ability and the lack of depth at the linebacker positon. And either Faggins or Williams will provide depth at CB.
    If you consider this, the number of “locks” is actually 41. So there are really only 12 roster spots up for grabs, so it may be worthwhile for the Titans to consider trading their 4th , 6th and 7th round picks to move up a few spots to get a player that might actually compete for a roster spot this year.

  2. Bob Loblaw Says:

    Ford & Ball are locks in my mind, if they draft a DE early I think Kearse gets the axe. I think Cary Williams is a lock if for no other reason than lack of depth at CB.
    I’d say Crumpler isn’t a lock, but he’s close. If the Titans find another value TE in the 3rd or 4th round, I could see them drafting one. Regardless of what they may say, he didn’t live up to their expectations last year. I wonder to what extent, if any, Crumpler’s performance and history of knee problems influenced the extent to which they pursued Torry Holt.
    Scott – I’d like to think that Little is a lock, but unlike the days of Reese where the Titans held on to draft picks for at least 2-3 years hoping and praying that the light would go on, Reinfeldt will cut guys who don’t perform immediately. Little wasn’t even drafted, so he’ll have to earn it. If they draft a RB, and they might, Little may end up cut and signed to the practice squad.

  3. Tom Gower Says:

    Scott and Bob, thanks for commenting.
    I should have identified Quinton Ganther as another guy who’s a definite possibility. I don’t remember why I took his name off the list.
    I think 4 of the DE’s will make the roster. I’m just not sure who gets cut if they keep 4. I could have done DE 3 and 4 like I did with the QB slot.
    As to Little, I agree with Bob. I could very easily the Titans drafting an RB in the 4th round pick and keeping him over Little.
    Stamer… I don’t see him as a regular player and I think they draft an LB early. If it’s an outside guy, Fowler makes the team to give them 6 LBs + Amato, and it’s a positional numbers game-do you keep LB Stamer, TE/FB Cramer, RB/FB Ganther, or maybe a DB like Tuff Harris?
    Hawkins was a near-lock, but Dinger was so unenthusiastic the other day I moved him off it. Crumpler I went back and forth on-if they have enough confidence in Stevens and draft a guy, I can see him getting cut, but I didn’t see much confidence in Stevens last year (compare to, say, Kinney’s rookie year) and doubt they draft a guy that highly. Alge is also due a roster bonus this year, and IIRC it was paid at the beginning of the league year (back in Feb. when free agency started). If I’m off on the date, he’s less of a lock.

  4. cld12pk2go Says:

    In my mind, the only way Ford isn’t a lock is if he gets busted sneaking into Fisher house at night to shave the “stache”.

  5. JCBRAVE Says:

    I must first say; so far I am impressed with this Titans site. I am continually reading articles about the Titans, and getting fed up with all of the crazy posts users leave behind. They’re clogging up boards causing decent ideas to be lost in their garbage. Anyways, great article! I agree about finding room for ten new Titans might be tough. I would only hope Jevon Kearse isn’t cut during the madness. Love the ‘Freak’ huge fan, but in this league anyone can be gone in seconds. As for you not having Vince Young as a ‘lock’, I don’t see the Titans letting go of him just yet. Especially being that QB will probably be the one position they don’t touch in this draft.

  6. Dave Says:

    Vince is a lock. Moving him ,in any fashion, will cost more than letting him ride the bench. I think Kearse’s contract ( cheap) keeps him aboard. Fowler is probably a goner…we are’nt going to give him $4mil to be a back up.
    I like all of the guys we have on the d-line and will be somewhat saddened if/when any of them get the axe.

  7. Ben Says:

    Well it may be that we could not have 10 but 9 or 8 since Arizona has mentioned that they are dropping the asking price for Boldin to a 2nd round pick this year and then future picks that of which are unknown. So its a possibility there now even though I believe it wont happen.

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