For much of the 2011 fantasy football season the Tennessee Titans were not a team that many fantasy owners turned towards for consistent help. From a fantasy football standpoint, the offense (as a whole) was simply too inconsistent.
Chris Johnson eclipsed 1,000 rushing yards but only produced 4 TDs, the quarterback tandem of Jake Locker and Matt Hasselbeck was only serviceable at best while the receiving department was more of an overall disappointment more than anything else.
The Titans have needs in a few places, particularly on the defensive line, while their coverage department is an arguable second with the wide receiver corp. remaining tertiary.
While the Titans will be surely addressing immediate needs, expect them to also solve for ‘X’ when it comes to building for the not-to-distant future.
Let’s see what the possibilities are.
The growing consensus is that the Titans are going to target a corner in the first round. The idea here is that the Titans have two pressing needs: the D-Line and corner.
Tennessee settled their need on the D-Line with the signing of Kamerion Wimbley, which now affords them to shift their focus on a quality start-ready corner such as Stephen Gilmore.
The Titans need a specific type of corner back. They need a player who is athletic, physical and talented yes, but they also need someone who is mentally grownup and a potential on-field leader.
Gilmore is all of these things and more. Gilmore should easily transition into Tennessee’s system with his ability to play multiple roles within any given scheme, while also possessing the leadership qualities this team has been without for a few years—a solid consideration.
Round 2: Andre Branch, DE, Clemson
6’4, 259 pound
The Titans—literally—had no pass rush as their team leader Karl Klug finished with just seven sacks, and if Branch is still around, the Titans would have a very good player on their hands should they decide to go with him.
With signing of Kamerion Wimbley this off-season the Titans can afford to wait until the second round for another defensive lineman, and hopefully for Tennessee, Branch will still be available.
Branch is fast, aggressive and difficult to prevent; making him an exciting choice for a Tennessee team that absolutely needs to upgrade at DE. He’ll have to work on his consistency which was a problem in college, but not to be unexpected.
Round 3: Bruce Irvin, OLB, West Virginia
6’3″, 245 pounds
The Titans could be looking to target an outside linebacker a bit earlier than many think, and they could be targeting one that can play the weak-side.
The Titans have no true weak-side backer. Will Witherspoon has lost his edge for sure, and the rumor of Saints LB Jonathan Casillas coming to town wouldn’t solve anything.
The WLB is primarily responsible for getting to the QB and taking care of the lateral zones in coverage—in Tennessee’s system, the WLB also deals with “rolled” coverage his way when playing the run from time to time, and Irvin would literally be a steal in the third round since the majority of his strengths reside in the aforementioned responsibilities.
His major high point is the ability to move within traffic and “find the ball” which is an aspect the Titans need on the weak-side.
His area for improvement is his inconsistency to drop back into coverage effectively; a responsibility that can easily be cultivated in Tennessee’s system.
Round 4: Greg Childs, WR, Arkansas
6′ 3″, 219 pounds
Let’s face facts with facts. The Titans need more than three receivers on this team.Kenny Britt is an impact player, but will also play as a boom or bust candidate considering his personal issues and recovery from his ACL injury.
If the Titans wanna do anything at all, they certainly want to grab themselves a physical and sizable target that can grow within the system and be a potential starting outside threat—which is where Childs comes in.
Childs has a 2010 patella surgery hanging over his head which could be a factor in the decision process, but I believe with his size and speed (40 yards in 4.41 seconds on pro-day) and his natural pass-catching abilities, Childs would be a hard player to pass on for the Titans.
The Titans O-line did a serviceable job in 2011, but they certainly didn’t set the world on fire which is why Tennessee first went out and signed All-Pro guard Steve Hutchinson.
But even with the signing of Hutch the Titans still need a young talented guard who can perhaps take over one day while also adding quality depth in the interim.
Nix is a raw player who initially relies on his strength more than his finesse. Nix can easily entrench himself as a pass-protector so long as he faces a head on attack, but he lacks a little bit laterally.
Nix’s real strong point is in his run blocking ability which could be the deciding factor for Tennessee—all the other “deficiencies” can be easily hammered out while the kid studies under Hutch.
Round 6: Eddie Pleasant, S, Oregon
5′ 10″, 211 pounds
There really isn’t a lot of depth for the Titans at the safety position, so it almost seems a given that the organization targets one for developmental purposes as well as possible depth.
I also do not rule out the possibility that the Titans go after a safety sooner, but with all the other needs, it seems to me to be unlikely.
Pleasant is a sure tackler in the open and a quality pass cover-man who could easily wind up being a diamond-in-the-rough for Tennessee.
Round 7: James Hanna, TE, Oklahoma
6′ 4″, 252 pounds
Here’s the deal: the Titans believe that starting TE Jared Cook began to blossom towards the end of 2011, which means the expectations are going to be high for him. But aside from Cook, there is no other true pass-catching TE in Tennessee.
Craig Stevens is the blocking counterpart to Cook and while he can catch, his ideal role is being a blocking TE. The Titans also have Daniel Graham, but he is in no way a viable option as a pass catcher, rather, he’s a veteran presence in the locker room and on the practice field.
Hanna is a sizable target who is underestimated when it comes to his speed. Oklahoma used him more than many think, and he sort of fell into the role of red-zone target—he would be a solid developmental player with a huge upside at the very least.