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2018 NFL Draft Position: The Titans Are in Pretty Good Shape

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Analyzing the full list of options that should be available when the Titans pick at no. 25.

AllState Sugar Bowl - Clemson v Alabama Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The Titans, for the first time in nearly 10 years, are picking towards the end of the NFL Draft order. If the Titans stay and pick at no. 25, it will be the latest first-round selection the franchise has made since Kenny Britt was picked 30th overall in 2009.

As has been discussed at length already, the two glaring holes on the Titans roster are linebacker-related, one inside and one outside.

Avery Williamson departed for the Jets in free agency (after reportedly turning down a low-level offer from Jon Robinson), and considering the age and contract status of Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan, combined with the lack of edge rusher depth on the roster (plus lack of development from Kevin Dodd), it seems clear that the Titans will need to add an inside linebacker and a pass rusher.

In recent years, it’s been relatively easy to predict which players will be available when the Titans hit the clock. Given the steep drop-off in predictability as the draft progresses, it will be much more difficult this season.

But to give us all an idea of who could be in play, I’ve decided to create a list, broken into tiers, of the potential targets so that we can see what choices the Titans might entertain with their first-round pick.

The good news? There are more than 25 quality names on this list (and none of them are tight ends).

The “No Way They Fall” Tier

There are a handful of guys that are almost guaranteed to be drafted long before the Titans even consider trading up.

Let’s get those out of the way quickly, starting with the top four quarterbacks likely to be picked in the top 10-15 of this draft.

1. Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

2. Sam Darnold, QB, USC

3. Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma

4. Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

It’s no sure thing that all four of these guys end up going early, but it seems very likely at the moment.

Then there are the top non-QB propects that the Titans will never have a shot at.

5. Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

6. Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame

7. Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State

8. Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama

These may or may not be the first eight guys off the board. I don’t think the Titans will have a chance to pick any of them.

The “Trade Target” Tier

There is a non-zero chance that Jon Robinson attempts to move up to target a guy he really covets. Every player in this next group is projected to go in the range that the Titans might consider trading up to secure.

Not all of these players/positions are necessarily Titans targets, but some team is probably going to take them well before pick no. 25.

And you never really know what Jon Robinson is thinking...

9. Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State

10. Derwin James, S, Florida State

11. Harold Landry, EDGE, Boston College

12. Roquan Smith, ILB, Georgia

13. Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech

14. Vita Vea, DT, Washington

15. Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama

Other Teams’ Problems

Before we move from the top half to the Titans’ range, let’s quickly list the first-round guys in whom the Titans will have little interest. I’d be very surprised to see the Titans draft an offensive tackle, running back, or wide receiver in the first round, and each of these guys has a decent shot to go in the top 25:

16. Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame

17. Derrius Guice, RB, LSU

18. Connor Williams, OT, Texas

19. Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA

20. Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

The Stick-and-Pick Options

If Tennessee can’t find a trade partner, the options for picking at no. 25 are plentiful. Any of these guys might make it to 25, and if they do, they will at least be mentioned in the war room.

Now, I’m not expecting the Titans to take a guard or even a defensive tackle in the first round, but those options should be noted nonetheless.

After signing Malcolm Butler, I’ve essentially ruled out the idea of a first-round cornerback, but nothing is impossible.

Any of these players could be in play for the Titans at no. 25:

21. Marcus Davenport, EDGE, UTSA

22. Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan

23. James Daniels, G/C, Iowa

24. Taven Bryan, DT, Florida

25. Rashaan Evans, ILB, Alabama

26. Sam Hubbard, EDGE, Ohio State

27. Leighton Vander Esch, ILB, Boise State

28. Josh Sweat, EDGE, Florida State

29. Isaiah Wynn, G/T, Georgia

30. Lorenzo Carter, EDGE, Georgia

Missing Names

I think there will be at least one running back drafted in the top 25 in addition to the obvious name, Saquon Barkley. And it will likely be Derrius Guice. But it could be Nick Chubb, or Sony Michel, or even Ronald Jones. It could be a combination.

As with running back, I expect at least one receiver to go in the top 25, but it could be any of Ridley, D.J. Moore, Courtland Sutton, James Washington, Dante Pettis, Michael Gallup, Christian Kirk, D.J. Chark... it’s a long list of receivers with no real consensus order. 2010 was the last draft with fewer than three first-round wide receivers, but I only listed one in Ridley, as he seems the most likely to be the first receiver off the board.

Further, my above list of 30 players only includes three defensive backs (missing: Josh Jackson, Jaire Alexander, Carlton Davis, and Isaiah Oliver, among others). 2011 was the last draft that saw three or less defensive backs taken in the first round.

Emphasis: I DIDN’T EVEN LIST JOSH JACKSON. I will be pretty surprised if Josh Jackson is not a top 20 pick.

Another Jackson, Lamar, is not listed above, and he is certainly a darkhorse to be a top-25 selection. You could make the same case for Hercules Mata’afa (DL, Washington State) and Justin Reid (S, Stanford).

I also (somewhat-intentionally) excluded tight ends from my list, but there’s a decent chance someone in front of Tennessee takes one (or more) of Mark Andrews (Oklahoma), Dallas Goedert (South Dakota State), Hayden Hurst (South Carolina), or Mike Gesicki (Penn State).

Therefore, the odds are favorable that some players I haven’t listed will find themselves in the top 25, which would push more quality players down towards the Titans’ range.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, I’m not worried in the slightest about the Titans’ options. Because the team is essentially “set” in many areas where others will be looking for first-round help, Tennessee will have the chance to select an impact player at no. 25.

In my opinion, the most realistic group of names to keep your eye on is much smaller than the above. It includes trade-up targets like Roquan Smith and Harold Landry, as well as a handful of stick-and-pick options like Rashaan Evans, Leighton Vander Esch, Sam Hubbard, and Josh Sweat.

Less than a month until we find out who it will be.