Newly hired running backs coach Sylvester Croom confirmed a rare parallel between the Titans' plans and the MCM collective conscience: regardless of how much we're paying Chris Johnson, or how well he's running the ball, the Titans need a legitimate no. 2 back to share the load.
Now, it's not as if the Titans haven't tried to fill that role with medium-value draft picks in the past. Javon Ringer and Jamie Harper were fifth and fourth round picks respectively. While Harper has generally been a waste of a pick, Ringer showed some flashes but never convinced coaches he offered enough value to cut into CJ's carries. Combine Ringer's moderate production and lack of short-yardage consistency with his occasional injury issues and you have a back whom the Titans can't rely on to compliment Johnson. The only other in-house option is Darius Reynaud, who is too much like a poor-man's CJ to be of much help.
That means the big choice the FO has to make is how we go about acquiring a big back who can do the dirty work and keep CJ fresh. Do they look to the draft again, targeting a top-half of the draft guy like Eddie Lacey, Montee Ball, Marcus Lattimore or Stephan Wood? Or, do they seek a free agent veteran like grinder like Ahmad Bradshaw, Stephen Jackson, Brandon Jacobs, Peyton Hillis, etc.
For my money, I say go with the draft, and hope your guy falls to a good value spot. If it doesn't work out, there are always a few RBs who become available after the cuts begin who could do the kind of gritty, yeomen-type work we're looking for.
We don't have to reach for a superstar, but we definitely can't miss on this pick-up without putting the 2013 season at significant risk.