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2019 NFL draft: An EDGE rusher in every round for Titans

NCAA Football: Florida State at North Carolina State Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

The Titans enter the 2019 NFL draft with a huge need at EDGE. It’s a premium position and they simply don’t have enough reliability there at this point. Harold Landry is a great piece to build around, but he’s just entering his sophomore season and has battled injury over the past two seasons. Cameron Wake was a great signing to replace the veteran presence they lost in Derrick Morgan and Brian Orakpo, but Wake has done his best work in a limited a role as of late. Kamalei Correa and Sharif Finch certainly flashed at times last season, but neither player showed enough last year to be cast into a full-time role at this point.

Tennessee will likely add at least one EDGE rusher by the end of Day 2, and it wouldn’t surprise me if they decide to double down at the position. Let’s take a look at prospects that could fit in every round.

Round 1: Brian Burns, FSU

Should the Titans decide to use the 19th overall selection on an EDGE rusher, Burns makes a lot of sense. He’s a long, speedy rusher who can turn the corner as good as any pass rusher in this talented class. He possesses excellent burst off the snap to shoot the gap immediately. He has a well developed pass rush arsenal. That should serve him well at the next level. He’s versatile enough to play both with his hand in the dirt or standing up. Pairing Burns with Landry would give the team two pass rushing specialists that have made a habit of bending the corner on tape. They could quickly become the most exciting pass rushing duo in the NFL.

Round 2: Anthony Nelson, Iowa

Nelson is a heavy handed defender that would be an excellent compliment to Landry. If the Titans are looking for a player with a different skillset than what they have in their second year rusher from Boston College, Nelson would be an excellent choice. He has excellent length and does his best work when he shoots his hands. Nelson is also an excellent run defender, something Landry has been criticized for in the past. A big man with a motor that’s always running hot, Nelson strikes me as a safe prospect with a high floor. He too has a varied pass rush arsenal, but the bull is his most effective rush at this point. He’s not bendy and I have some questions about his overall athleticism, but Nelson should be a very solid player at the next level.

Just one example of Nelson’s (#98) ability to beat double teams with power.

Round 3: Oshane Ximines, Old Dominion

A talented rusher from a small school, Ximines has the size, power and quickness to make him worthy of a top-100 selection. Despite coming from a smaller program, Ximines has a well developed pass rushing arsenal, but his ability to bend-and-rip is what’s most impressive about him on tape. He keeps his hands active and plays the game with excellent balance. He’s a speedy guy with a great first step off the snap, something that’s so key to being successful at the next level. He’s also a very smart player who reads-and-reacts to what’s happening around him in a timely fashion. His high football I.Q. should allow him to see the field early and often as a rookie.

Round 4: Wyatt Ray, Boston College

With all of their connections to Boston College, you can bet that the Titans will have a lot of information on Ray. Not only did he share a position room with Landry, but new Titans strength and conditioning coach Frank Piraino could provide some insight into Ray as well. It takes Ray a second to get going off the snap, but he’s a long, quick strider who eats up space once he gets going. He uses his length to set up everything else he wants to do as a rusher. He’s incredibly physical and he effectively converts speed to power. All of the traits are there for Ray, but it’s gonna take some good coaching to help him put it all together. Perhaps the familiar faces in Tennessee is exactly what he needs.

Round 5: Ben Banogu, TCU

Banogu’s athletic profile is the type you bet on with a Day 3 selection. The type of explosiveness and speed he showcased at the NFL Scouting Combine will have teams taking a closer look at him. On tape, he has a lot to work on if he’s going to be successful at the next level. First and foremost, I thought he was a little too slow to react to what’s going on around him. Still, you can work with him. Banogu has a variety of moves in his arsenal already. The outside club is his best move, but he also incorporates a nice rip move, and a two-hand stab as well. He’s a bit of a liability in the run game at this point. He’ll have to improve in that area if he hopes to see the field consistently at the next level, but his athletic profile will certainly get him drafted.

Round 6: Justin Hollins, Oregon

A twitched up rusher with some solid fluidity to his game, Hollins is an intriguing option on Day 3. He’s not a bendy rusher on tape. Instead, Hollins has success when he sets up the offensive linemen with stutter and hesitation moves. He does have some quickness to his game, but everything he does is set up with slow developing rushes. He needs to work on not getting pushed past the pocket so often, but Hollins has some exciting tools to work with.

Round 7: Jordan Brailford, Oklahoma State

Brailford is another intriguing option that should be available late. His 40 yard dash time of 4.65 was excellent considering his size. He has great length and size for the next level. He does a great job of using his hands to disengage from would-be blockers. He keeps them active and he’s constantly swiping to get free. He moved around for Oklahoma State, playing both in a 3-point stance and standing up as a 3-4 rusher. Right now, he relies on his length and bull rush to get after the quarterback. He’ll have to develop one or two more moves, but Brailford could be a value selection on the backend of the 2019 NFL draft.