clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Laremy Tunsil vs. Jalen Ramsey: Talking through the Titans' decision atop the NFL Draft

My personal take on the Ramsey vs. Tunsil debate.

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

As it usually goes every year, the Titans' fan base is split on what the team should do with their first round pick. What many thought would be a debate between Joey Bosa and Laremy Tunsil has turned into a debate between Jalen Ramsey and Laremy Tunsil. Tunsil has been the odds on favorite since the season ended, but it seems like the Ramsey noise just keeps getting louder.

We don't know who Jon Robinson is leaning towards with the number one pick, but we do know that he's at least interested in both Ramsey and Tunsil (and Joey Bosa, for that matter) by his appearance at their respective pro days. Maybe he knows who the pick is going to be if he stays put at number one, maybe he doesn't. Maybe he's just doing his due diligence just in case he's able to pull off a trade.

For now, we'll assume that the pick is coming down to Jalen Ramsey or Laremy Tunsil. Let's weigh out all the positives of each potential pick.

Jalen Ramsey Positives Laremy Tunsil Positives
Brings youth and talent to a group that sorely needs it. There isn't much behind Jason McCourty and Perrish Cox.
Widely regarded as one of the best offensive tackle prospects in the last several years.
Gives you a unique chess piece that could potentially play multiple positions in the secondary.
Outstanding feet, quickness and overall strength. Posted 34 reps on the bench press at 225 pounds.
Has the ability to become one of the NFL's next great press corners. Would give the Titans a "press" corner -- something that they don't really have currently.
Would potentially solve the right tackle issue with Taylor Lewan kicking to the right side, giving the Titans one of the better tackle duos in the league.
Brings an elite, straight-line athlete with outstanding recovery speed. Outstanding length and lower body explosion.
Another building block to place around the franchise player -- Marcus Mariota. Fits in with ownership's wishes to keep Mariota upright and safe, which was a massive issue last season.
Hard-nosed and aggressive in run support, yet rarely out of control.
Provides the franchise with the best player at a fairly thin position in this draft class.

You can spin it in either direction and make a convincing argument for each prospect. Do you want a difference maker in your defensive backfield or a rock solid left tackle to protect your franchise quarterback for the next decade? Again, convincing arguments can be made with both. But when you get into some potential negatives, my scale starts to tilt a bit.

Jalen Ramsey Negatives Laremy Tunsil Negatives
Only one year of playing a true outside corner role, which will likely be his position in the NFL.
Missed two games with a biceps issue in 2014 before suffering a broken leg in the bowl game. Had a few dings in 2013 too, causing him to miss the bowl game.
If Ramsey is the pick, that means the Titans will be relying on Byron Bell or another draft pick to handle right tackle duties.
Would be asked to operate in a man/power scheme rather than the zone scheme that was in play at Ole Miss. I don't think it's a huge deal, but it may not be such a seamless transition early on.
Shows some sloppy footwork and tightness when reacting in man coverage. Played at a higher level when playing a safety or nickel role.
Some lingering (minor) off the field issues remain. Was supposedly involved (or present, at least) in the Nkemdiche hotel room incident along with a domestic dispute with his step-dad.

It's the second negative listed in Ramsey's column that's getting me. Are you really willing to take Jalen Ramsey and roll into camp with Byron Bell as your starting right tackle? Or are you really going to pigeonhole yourself into taking a tackle at pick 33?

The latter option is a risky proposition. Let me take some time to debunk some anti-Tunsil arguments that I've heard.

Take Ramsey at 1 then get a tackle at 33!

This tackle group isn't very deep at all and could be extremely thin by the time the Titans get on the clock Friday night. Best case scenario is a guy like Jason Spriggs falling to you, but Jon Robinson certainly can't be banking on that. Guys like Ronnie Stanley, Taylor Decker, Jack Conklin and likely Spriggs too will all be gone.

Who does that leave? Not much. You're talking about a guy like Germain Ifedi (who may be a better fit a guard) in that range with the rest of the tackle group being a major reach at that point. Robinson could trade back into the first to get his tackle if he took Ramsey at one, but that wouldn't really play into the rebuilding plan. You're trying to maximize picks, not minimize them.

So you can take Laremy Tunsil with the first pick or hope that a tackle might fall to you at the top of the second round. If one doesn't fall, you are stuck with Byron Bell protecting Marcus Mariota in 2016. That didn't work so well last year.

They have too much invested in the offensive line already. They can't spend another first round pick there.

So by that logic the Titans shouldn't have ever spent another first round pick on a quarterback because they whiffed on Jake Locker and Vince Young. That may be a touch extreme, but you can't stop trying to build something because you've been burned in the past.

I think part of that frustration comes from the failed signing of Andy Levitre, but a lot more of it comes from the lack of impact that Chance Warmack has provided. Add in Taylor Lewan's banged up, sup-par 2015 along with a disastrous showing by 2015 third round pick Jeremiah Poutasi and you have a frustrated group of fans.

I understand that aspect of it, but I'd rather swing for the fences and try to get this thing fixed once and for all. Tunsil has once in a decade type athletic ability -- that's something that you can't pass on if you have a need up front. Especially if you have a young quarterback that was consistently hit the year before.

If you truly want to maximize Marcus Mariota's abilities, he has to remain upright. Think back to the Miami game -- Vernon and Wake got plenty of free shots in on Mariota and his knee didn't really ever get back to 100% after that. Mariota ended up missing four games on the season, which can't happen going forward.

Adding a piece like Tunsil would provide a massive building block for the entire offense going forward, hopefully taking a big step towards winning up front -- something the Titans haven't been able to do since the Jeff Fisher era. The addition of Tunsil should give a boost to DeMarco Murray too, who will be handling most of the carries this season. A consistent rushing attack is key for any team, especially ones with young quarterbacks.

Tunsil won't fix all of the issues for the Titans up front, but he would be one heck of a start. They'll still need some help on the interior, but having Tunsil and Lewan as your bookends for the next decade is a very exciting proposition.