Tennessee needs a right guard to finish its remodel of the offensive line, and right now I believe that the Titans have a 80% chance of adding that guard in round one. Even though I think the best pure right guard in this draft is Chance Warmack, there are a lot of reasons why Tennessee might pass up the pride of the Tide for the Chapel Hill standout.
1. The Titans don't seem do respect the dominance of the SEC.
Under the current coaching staff and front office the Titans have only spent one draft pick on someone from the SEC, and that was a seventh rounder spend on practice squad DT Zach Clayton. A breakdown of where the Titans have drafted over the past two years goes like this:
Big 12, Big 10, C-USA: 2 (each)
SEC, PSAC, Big East: 1 (each)
That suggests two things to me. Either A) Webster trusts his scouts from the ACC a lot more than he trusts those from the SEC or B) The SEC scouts haven't been aggressive enough in the war room and are undervaluing players like Cordy Glenn (who I actually hated as a prospect) and Alshon Jeffery. Under either circumstance, it doesn't bode well for the section of the fan-base that thinks Warmack is in a class above Cooper because of where they each played football.
2. If anyone knows and respects versatility on the offensive line, it is current OL coach Bruce Mathews
I believe if someone was to teach a class labeled Titans/Oilers 101, the first two names one the vocabulary list would be Warren Moon and Bruce Mathews. The thing that I always remember about Bruce Mathews is that you could literally plug him anywhere in any blocking scheme and he could still play at a HoF level. If Mathews values flexibility in his offensive linemen then that could be bad news for the Warmack camp.
Warmack is great at a lot of things, but he has never had to show flexibility thanks to the quality depth that Alabama has had over his tenure at that school. Are the Titans sure that Cooper wouldn't kill two birds with one stone (upgrade center and move Velasco to guard), it might not be a huge upgrade but it could be the straw that breaks the camel's back.
3. Reports are that the Titans love Cooper.
Warmack has said that he would like to be a Tennessee Titan, but the Titans haven't been rumored to be in love with him. In fact, Tennessee has been linked to Cooper much more often than Warmack from "sources". The first report/rumor that suggested the Titans preferred Cooper was March 26 by Tony Pauline of draftinsider.net.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>Jon Cooper/G/North Carolina drawing heavy interest from Tennessee Titans & Dallas Cowboys..</p>— Tony Pauline (@TonyPauline) <a href="https://twitter.com/TonyPauline/status/316712021112537088">March 27, 2013</a></blockquote>
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Now, these sort of "leaks" don't always mean anything, but coupled with the facts that the Titans haven't denied it and that they brought in Cooper first, all chip away at my previous notion that Warmack was a lock to Tennessee.
So what does it all mean?
This time of year is always filled with smokescreens and propaganda, but with the draft just a handful of days away I can't help but get sucked into this belief that Cooper could go before Warmack. Teams prefer athletic linemen to pure power players, and the Titans aren't immune to that rule. The Titans went all in on a contract for a dominating complete left guard, but hardly sniffed at the power blocking Brandon Moore of Jets infamy, who has been a great run blocker for years.
Will the Titans pass on power again and try to build an athletic line that can be used to attack the edges of the field through zone blocks and screen passes, or will they go with the guy that can basically guarantee you conversions on those pesky "3rd and short" situations that the Titans have struggled with since Lendale White and Kevin Mawae were both cast out? I can't say, but the situation becomes murkier by the day...which is why I love the draft!