The Tennessee Titans Are A Lock To Draft Either Chance Warmack or Jonathan Cooper. Here's why.
A slew of very smart signings that improve talent and depth in the middle of the line tell two stories.
The Titans added two slick signings that are sure to be very affordable in Kevin Walter and Chris Spencer. I'll put the Walter/Washington debate aside (or rather postpone it until MCM Radio, rather), but the big question coming out of the Spencer signing is: How does this change our plan for the RG position in 2013?
As in, not at all.
All whispers around Nashville have been that the Titans are enamored with Warmack and Cooper. Keeping Fernando Velasco in house at Center with a RFA tender, giving Andy Levitre huge money, then throwing Rob Turner and Chris Spencer into the mix will seem to many outsiders like the Titans are targeting defense with the 10th pick. However, scratch the surface of those lines of reasoning, and you'll find little more than just the cliché that began this sentence.
While there are warm bodies with skill in house who can play the Center and Right Guard position, not a one of them is signed beyond this year right now. I fully expect that the Titans' plan to extend Velasco before/during training camp, and while Turner and Spencer are very capable players, they are automatically the weak links in the O-line as it's composed right now.
With Mike Munchak and Bruce Matthews in a must-win year, I doubt they're betting the bank on weak links.
Adding Cooper or Warmack in the first round would give the Titans an offensive line they can ride for years to come. Roos and Stewart both have several years of top-flight productivity left, Velasco is an up-and-comer and Levitre is primed for a jump to the elite level. This regime is clearly ready to move on from the likes of Harris, Amano, Otto and the scraps who've occupied the line for the past few years. A cornerstone guard means we'd have better talent at the top and bottom of the O-line, which is pretty important when you've sunk four first round picks over the past five years on RB, WR and QB.
As for the defense, we need help at the DE spot, but:
- The DT group is exceptionally solid and deep
- The LBs, especially Brown and Ayers, are a true bright spot we've invested high picks in
- The CBs need depth, but McCourty and Verner are excellent starters who just need a safety net
- The Safeties have seen an influx of veteran talent in Wilson and Pollard, with Markell Martin still and unknown entity
So when you add it all up, especially with the talent who'll be there in the top 15, Warmack and Cooper are the only picks that make sense.
Now, having written all of this, the Titans have set themselves up in a nice position, because if they are truly in love with a defensive lineman or corner back in the first round, I can't hate them for it.
I don't feel the same at this point (this wreaks of an extremely mediocre pass rushing D-line group, IMO), but after this brilliant free agency melee attack, who can argue?