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The CB vs. DE draft debate: A counter-argument

With draft-day rapidly approaching, it’s pretty obvious where the Tennessee Titans’ most pressing needs lie: Cornerback and Defensive End.

Tom’s most recent article is centered upon the belief that the defensive end position is the direction the Titans should venture towards with their first round selection. Without a doubt, there’s no question that addressing DE with pick #16 is a more than plausible suggestion.

Since Tom took the DE side of the debate, I’ll play the vaunted role of devil’s advocate by making a case for the Titans to go the CB route with their first-round pick in next month’s draft.

I’ll begin by reiterating what was stated in the beginning of this piece: Drafting a DE with selection #16 makes a ton of sense. Considering the team’s needs at the position as well as Tom’s well-crafted argument regarding the past success of Titan defenses due to their ability to consistently get after the QB, I’d have no problems with the team selecting a DE in the first round.

However, I’ll use last year as an example as to why the team should also considering drafting a CB with their first-rounder.

A myriad of injuries at the CB position played a key role in the team’s abysmal 0-6 start. During those first six games, the team notched a total of 10 sacks. Four of those QB takedowns came in the season-opening loss to the Steelers, when the Titans still had a good bill of health in their secondary.

The team was at its worst when All-Pro Cortland Finnegan was out of the lineup. With rookies Jason McCourty and Ryan Mouton getting way too much playing time due to the M.A.S.H unit-situation at CB, opposing quarterbacks torched the Titan secondary on a recurring basis.

After the bye, with the veteran cornerbacks now back in the lineup, the Titans’ sack totals increased significantly. In their first four games after the byes (all wins), the team put up the following sack numbers: 4, 4, 2, 4. During the team’s 8-2 finish to the ’09 season, the team collected a total of 21 sacks, averaging over two a game.

Getting a consistent pass-rush has undoubtedly served as a key component in the success of several Titan teams over the years. However, as last year indicates, having solid play at CB can also play a key role in a team’s success on the defensive side of the football as well. Therefore, fortifying the CB position with a top-notch talent at pick #16 may not be a bad idea after all.

My other reason for wanting the Titans to address the CB position with their first-round selection can be summed up in one phrase: The Jim Washburn factor.

As a recent article indicates, Washburn has provided a huge lift to the team’s defensive coaching staff over the years due to his ability to get constant production from his defensive lines. The following quote from former Titan defensive lineman John Thornton sums up Washburn’s coaching abilities:

“You don’t need a super-talented guy to succeed in that system; you just have to play hard,” he said. “While you are going to make mistakes, you can still make plays.”

With that said, the Titans may be wise to select a CB such as Kyle Wilson or, in the event he’s available, a talent such as Joe Haden with their first-rounder. Then, in the third round round or below, bring in a raw DE talent such as Brandon Lang, Austen Lane, Willie Young or Dan Te’o-Nesheim who can be molded into a contributor due to the coaching prowess of Wash.

So there you have it folks, my argument for drafting a CB with the team’s first-round selection. Do you agree or disagree? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.