Total Titans continues its offseason positional analyses with a look at the guards. The key to the position group this offseason is Eugene Amano, who’s scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent.
It wouldn’t surprise me to see Amano test the marketplace in March. He’s a serviceable but replaceable guard and I don’t see the Titans overspending to keep him. I’m not sure that any teams will bid highly for his services with better options available. All it takes though is for just one team to like a guy so I’d be a little surprised to see Amano re-sign with the Titans.
At the other guard spot, Jake Scott will resume his third season as Tennessee’s starting right guard. He’s started every game since joining the Titans and has two years remaining on his contract. Scott is easily the best guard on the roster so there are no problems on that front.
Leroy Harris will be entering the final year of his initial contract and may finally become a full-time starter, either as Amano’s replacement or, more likely, as Kevin Mawae’s replacement at center. Harris has three career starts, one each at center, left guard and right tackle but center is his natural position. If Amano and Mawae both leave, the Titans would be better off with Leroy at center and someone not currently on the roster at left guard.
Troy Kropog, a fourth-round compensatory selection a year ago, is listed as a T/G. Maybe he can play a little guard, but I hope he doesn’t have to. Kropog isn’t strong enough yet to handle many of the defensive tackles in the league and I’d rather see him remain primarily as a tackle.
Ryan Durand is a true guard, but from what I’ve seen of him so far, he’s not yet ready to contribute. I’d be shocked if he replaces Amano.
Fernando Velasco rounds out the roster. Like Amano and Harris, he’s designated as both a center and guard. Like Harris and unlike Amano, Velasco is a better center than guard. I thought Velasco had a better training camp than Durand last summer, but he was an UDFA whereas Durand was a draft pick, so guess which one made the roster. Velasco spent most of the season on the practice squad and may have better luck this summer making the 53-man roster.
As you can see, I’m not very thrilled with the depth after Harris.
Looking at the potential free agents, there are a few, like Logan Mankins, Jahri Evans and Bobbie Williams at the top of the heap. Guys like that will either be retained by their current teams, or will be very expensive.
One guy I like, who may be available and within Mike Reinfeldt’s budget, is Seahawks’ RFA Rob Sims, who had a good game against the Titans in the season finale. Tony Brown was out for that game so Sims was primarily blocking Kevin Vickerson and did a good job.
If the Titans decide to address the position in the draft, three guards are expected to be selected in the first three rounds, one per round in the following order.
1. Mike Iupati, Idaho
2. Jon Asamoah, Illinois
3. Mike Johnson, Alabama
Of course, the Titans don’t have a second-round pick, which seems to leave out Asamoah. Other guards expected to be drafted later include:
John Jerry, Mississippi
Mitch Petrus, Arkansas
Brandon Carter, Texas Tech
Sergio Render, Virginia Tech
Zane Beadles, Utah
Reggie Stephens, Iowa State
One thing we can be certain of is Mike Reinfeldt making contingency plans in the event of Amano’s possible departure. Will he go with Harris, target a free agent like Sims or wait for the draft? We’ll find out in the coming months.