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Best player available vs. need: What approach will the Tennessee Titans take in round one?

Let’s flashback to one year ago.

Heading into last year’s draft, it was believed by many that securing the services of a playmaking wide receiver would be goal of the Tennessee Titans in round one. For those who were unconvinced (and ultimately right) that the Titans would go WR in the first round, selecting a defensive tackle or defensive end was a more realistic option with pick #24.

Of course, history tells us that with the exception of the omniscient Frank Wycheck, many of us were shocked when we heard RB Chris Johnson’s name announced as the Titans’ first round selection.

Despite possible needs at WR, DT and DE, Mike Reinfeldt decided to take the best player available route by adding another RB to a stable that already consisted of recent high draft selections LenDale White and Chris Henry.

Let’s fast-forward to 2009. Will the Tennessee Titans shock the world again by going best player available in the first round, or will addressing a team need emerge as Mike Reinfeldt’s chief priority with pick #30?  

In the minds of many, there’s a good chance that the Tennessee Titans will take the cornerback route with their first round selection and for good reason. Considering Nick Harper’s advancing age and the loss of Chris Carr and Eric King via free agency, drafting a CB in round one makes a ton of sense.

Despite the team’s over-a-decade streak of not selecting a WR in round one since 1998, there are still many who believe the Titans will draft a playmaker with pick #30. The team’s interest in players such as Percy Harvin, Hakeem Nicks and Darrius Heyward-Bey at this year’s combine only served as fuel to the fires of those who are convinced that the team will draft a playmaker with its first pick.

Last but not least, due to Big Albert Haynesworth’s departure to the nation’s capital, drafting a DT is a more than feasible option in the first round. Guys like Peria Jerry, Evander “Ziggy” Hood and Ron Brace could be available if replacing Haynesworth’s presence is the team’s biggest desire in round one.

Of course, as last year indicates, the public’s perception of the team’s needs may not mesh with the beliefs of Mike Reinfeldt and Jeff Fisher. This front office isn’t afraid to go against the grain by opting for the best player available approach on draft day.

With Kerry Collins re-signed and Vince Young waiting in the wings, drafting a QB in round one appears to be unlikely. However, if players such as Josh Freeman or Mark Sanchez fall and are still around at pick #30, I wouldn’t totally rule out the possibility of the Titans drafting a signal-caller with its first selection.

Middle linebacker is also another position that could emerge as a surprise option in the first round. Stephen Tulloch played well at times in his first full year as a starter, but with his impending free agency in 2010, the team may decide to draft a bigger, younger player such as James Laurinaitis, who has already been linked to the Titans in a couple of mock drafts.

Defensive end could also be addressed with pick #30. William “Big Play” Hayes was drafted last year but Jevon Kearse and Kyle Vanden Bosch aren’t getting any younger, so the Titans may be inclined to draft another future starter such as Georgia Tech’s Michael Johnson.

So what’s the moral of this story? Based on the events of recent years, prepare to expect the unexpected when it comes to the decision-making of Mike Reinfeldt and the Tennessee Titans on draft day.