The 2012 Combine has passed and the only thing left between now and the draft for evaluations is Pro Days. A while back I started compiling a list of potential targets for the Titans- most of which we've discussed at length- but as mock draft season is here, I thought it'd be beneficial to try and rank the prospects.
I want to get a few things out of the way before we begin. First, I value production over potential in almost every scenario. That's just my personal preference. There are a lot of theories and thoughts on best drafting strategies, and that's the one I support. I feel that the less projections you have to make, the better chance you have of success. It always cracks me up when a draft guy says something about how much he loves one prospect's athleticism, and that all that player has to do now is learn to play the position better. Second, I didn't include any questionable character guys on the list. I'm not interested in them. Finally, for the most part I focused on needs. MCM has basically settled on a group of positions that would be acceptable in the first round to fit our needs: G, C, DE, S, WR, CB. I value those positions more than the others. I tried to only rank players considered around the 20th pick, though that can be highly variable. If you have any questions on players I left out, I'll try my best to explain why, or let you know where I would rank them. So let's get to it.1) David DeCastro, G: I know he won't be available for us, but he's here just to note that he headlines the crop of players I'd want. Wes Bunting called him the Andrew Luck of this draft at the guard position: the best prospect not only at his position this year, but also in previous years as well. He fits our most pressing need and is one of the most talented players in the whole draft. This is a must-pick if a miracle happens.
2) Melvin Ingram, DE: Ingram confused me for most of the draft process so far. I think he's best suited for 3-4 LB and will make some team really happy, but he's also the best DE in the draft. He pops off the tape playing a variety of positions and possesses the combination of speed and strength elite prospects need. Finished with 10 sacks last year and 9 the year before that.
3) Peter Konz, C: The second interior linemen to make it into the "Big 3" of prospects I'd love to have. Unlike the first one, its likely Konz will be there at 20. Like most of you I think the Titans wait to fill their OL needs until the second round, but that doesn't mean I have to agree with the strategy. Once again we have a prospect at the top of his position class and fills a major need. Konz can start immediately and push Amano over to the guard spot.
We're now into the second tier of prospects:
4) Mark Barron, S: Sensing a trend? Best prospect at a position that fills a major need. Watching Barron's first game against LSU this year, I noticed his good instincts, which is more than I can say for our current group of safeties. He played well in run support as well. Many feel the double hernia surgery will hurt his stock, but I can only evaluate what I have access to. The medical staff is responsible for the health aspect of this evaluation. If he didn't check out, obviously he'd drop on the board. Also of note is that he was arrested in March 2011 for a misdemeanor charge (possibly lying about a car accident). I don't know what resulted from it, but it doesn't seem like an issue.
5) Cordy Glenn, G/T: Another offensive linemen we'll end up passing on in the draft, Glenn gets the nod here because I love his work on the inside. Someone drafting him for the tackle spot is probably going to be disappointed, but I wouldn't have any issue with sliding him in between Amano and Stewart. He's a big, strong guard who would help our run game immensely. By playing him inside, we reduce the concerns about pulling from the tackle spot.
Heading into a group of players I am much less confident in.
6) Fletcher Cox, DT: I think this is the first shocker on my board. Cox is someone who benefited a lot from a strong Combine, running a 4.79 and posting 30 bench reps. That sent me scurrying back to YouTube to find out more about this guy. I found this, this, this and this was just recently added. I still know very little about Cox, so I had to defer to Rang for some of it. Cox is the 24th player on his board, and 4th DT. He's also the first guy on my list that doesn't fit into the group of needs outlined above, so let me elaborate a bit. News broke that Jason Jones may be heading to free agency, so that moves DT up a bit on the list of needs for me. However, Cox was placed here for two main reasons. First, he's lined up both outside as a DE in three and four man fronts occasionally. Bunting actually has him as the second-best DE in the class (he classifies Ingram as a OLB, if you're wondering why Cox is so high). Second, I really don't like many of the DEs in this class. As a result, I'd rather select a DT and get strong pressure up the middle than a DE I'm not sure will generate pressure, even though that pick would fill a need. My concern with this pick is that he's very young, and has some raw aspects to his game. He was a three year starter though in the SEC. (Side note: Ball and Cox on our line?)
7) Dontari Poe, DT: Much of the same reasoning behind this pick as the Cox pick, but Poe is a DT or NT depending on the defense you want to run. I tried hard to find a DE to put here, but I just can't sell myself on any of them. I'm basing this ranking solely on what I've heard from draft guys and writers; I've yet to find any substantial tape on Poe.
8) Nick Perry, DE: Ugh. Truthfully, not too fond of Perry. He really came on this year, but wasn't as productive the year before. From what I've seen of him, he's all speed and little strength. Another DE who I think projects better as a LB, he does have some nice pass rushing skills. All that speed off the edge will help him beat linemen, but I don't think he'll generate consistent pressure. Perhaps he'd be best used as a situational pass rusher? I'm not sure.
Others in consideration: WRs Reuben Randle, Alshon Jeffery, and Stephen Hill. I like them, just more as second-rounders. I'm a pretty big fan of DT Brandon Thompson from the little I saw of him also.
Flagged: CB Dre Kirkpatrick and WR Michael Floyd. I don't trust either of them.
So there it is. One more thing: I don't have a hot clue if any of this is even remotely similar to what scouts are thinking and I certainly don't know anything about evaluating tape. Its really just my best guess, and I really enjoyed getting to know the prospects a little more in-depth. Take this opportunity to let me know how dumb I am in the comments!