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Assessing the Titans non-G/DL first-round options

There are three basic directions the Titans could choose to go with the tenth overall pick in this month's draft. These three directions are at an offensive guard to fill the vacant starting right guard spot, for a defensive lineman to throw into the defensive line mix, or, less likely than either of the first two in my opinion, some other direction. I covered the top guards available in this post and the defensive linemen in this post, which means it's time to turn my attention to the other positions the Titans could draft.

First, let's see if we can reduce the ground we have to cover a little bit. The Titans are not drafting a punter or kicker at #10. The Titans are not drafting a running back at #10. The Titans are not drafting an offensive tackle at #10.  The Titans are not drafting a quarterback at #10. If the Titans draft a linebacker at #10, it'll be one of those pass rusher-type guys I listed in the defensive linemen post.

The Titans are very highly unlikely to draft a wide receiver. Unless the what and the way they value the position is highly divergent from what I think it is, the current offensive scheme does not highly value Tavon Austin, by most accounts the draft's top-rated receiver; heck, I'm not even sure they'd take him at #40. Corrdarrelle Patterson has interesting physical potential, but if the reports he hasn't interviewed well are anything close to accurate, there is no way he's a candidate at #10. Given the often modest impact of rookie wide receivers, I doubt the Titans would see even a better prospect than the guys available this year as a good choice for them.

The Titans are highly unlikely to draft a tight end. My belief is they are relatively satisfied with their current grouping of tight ends at the top end and any additions are likely to be for the purpose of adding depth. The top tight end in the draft, and the only one possible to be in their thinking at #10 would be Tyler Eifert. A guy who spent plenty of time flexed out wide at Notre Dame, he's certainly a more experienced receiving option, relatively speaking, than any of the players the Titans have on their roster. Athletically, he reminds me of Owen Daniels of the Texans-more potential than Daniels (a fourth-round pick out of Wisconsin), granted, but a quality overall athlete who nonetheless doesn't blow you away in any single area. The tight ends who have gone that high (at least recently) have all been athletic mismatches on a different level than Eifert. I know some people like him, but I don't see him as a Titans option.

At safety, the consensus top player in the draft is Kenny Vaccaro. I have already written about him. I will go into this in more detail next week, but I expect the Titans to take a safety in the draft. I just do not expect it to be at #10.

This bring us to the option position I believe is a real option if the Titans do not draft an offensive or defensive lineman with the tenth pick, cornerback. I have not written nearly as much about it as I have about the defensive line, but the Titans' cornerback group is a collection of incongruities. The basic situation as I see it:

1. Alterraun Verner and Jason McCourty are stylistically different, while most teams prefer similar cornerbacks;
2. McCourty, Coty Sensabaugh, and Tommie Campbell are stylistically similar, with Verner the odd man out;
3. Unless the Titans like Verner there or think Coty Sensabaugh will improve dramatically after being perhaps the league's worst slot cornerback as a rookie, they do not have a slot cornerback on their roster;
4. When Jerry Gray was hired, he moved Verner to the outside in the nickel package, even though he was the third corner and it would have been very easy for him to just play in the slot; and
5. Verner's contract expires after this season.

I believe the Titans will draft a corner, and at #10 is one of the places they might draft one. A brief rundown of the options:

Dee Milliner
Chance he's there at #10: 25%
Is he a slot guy: Not really
Quick take: Good stylistic fit with McCourty and looks like a good fit for Gray's scheme. Not ideal athleticism (see not a slot fit), but if he had that he might be a top 5 pick. Alabama cornerback, and the last two to go in the first round both disappointed as rookies (Dre Kirkpatrick last year, primarily injury-related, while Kareem Jackson just sucked). Teams need corners, so even if he's not as good as Patrick Peterson, he'll still be off the board 

Xavier Rhodes
Chance he's there at #10: 95%
Is he a slot guy: Maybe
Quick take: Another good height-weight-speed fit for the Titans. Draftniks like him better in press than in off coverage; Gregg Williams has played a ton of press-man in the past when he ineffectively blitzes. Like Dallas Thomas, a guy I can't really get a handle on myself even though I feel like I've watched him enough I should have him nailed. Tested better than expected at the Combine, I didn't see him as a great collegiate cornerback at Florida State (though see the previous sentence). I'm probably just missing something.

D.J. Hayden
Chance he's there at #10: 99%
Is he a slot guy: Yes
Quick take: I watched a lot of Houston last year and Hayden looked good, albeit against an unimpressive level of competition. Milliner and Rhodes are probably better scheme fits thanks to superior size, while Hayden is more average in that regard. Scary heart injury during his final college season, but he has a clean bill of health and it's not something that will affect him going forward. Only mentioning him as an option at #10 because Mike Mayock noted him in an appearance on 104.5 Wednesday, and I trust Mike mentioning unexpected players because the NFL teams he's talking to really, really like them.

Really, though, it's an offensive guard or defensive lineman in my book.