2018 NFL Draft Reset: Titans need to fortify linebacker group

--- NFLDraftScout.com ---

The Tennessee Titans came into the offseason with several needs and have addressed a good number of them in free agency, while creating a couple of others in terms of depth with a couple of releases.

The Titans addressed their need at cornerback with a big-time acquisition in Malcolm Butler, who immediately becomes the team’s No. 1 cornerback and giving Tennessee a solid top three to go with 2017 starters Logan Ryan and Adoree’ Jackson.

The Titans also added a scatback type in Dion Lewis, to replace the departed DeMarco Murray. Tennessee also created competition at the guard position, re-signing both Josh Kline and Quinton Spain and bringing in outsiders Xavier Su’a-Filo and Kevin Pamphile to battle them in camp. The Titans also signed inside linebacker Will Compton to replace Avery Williamson, who left as a free agent.

The defensive line could still use some depth, as veterans Karl Klug and Sylvester Williams were let go, but most of the holes were filled leaving the Titans to use the draft to upgrade and create competition.

Here is a closer look at where the Titans are, how they got here and a shot at what they should do with their first pick in the draft.

THE BREAKDOWN

2017 finish: 2nd AFC South (9-7)

STATISTICS

TOTAL OFFENSE: 314.0 (23rd)

RUSHING: 114.6 (15th)

PASSING: 199.4 (23rd)

TOTAL DEFENSE: 328.0 (13th)

RUSHING: 88.8 (4th)

PASSING: (239.3 (25th)

TEAM NEEDS

  1. Outside linebacker/edge rusher: Both Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan are in the final years of their respective contracts, and are getting to the age where the wear and tear could begin to show at any time. Veteran Erik Walden, who joined the team last year, has not been brought back yet, and the light still hasn’t gone on for Kevin Dodd, now entering his third season. The Titans have a solid fourth guy in Aaron Wallace, but they need a pure edge rusher to become the heir apparent to Morgan and Orakpo. To get that, chances are, it will have to come with a pretty early pick.
  1. Wide receiver: Simply from a numbers standpoint, the Titans need more here, not to mention they could use some reliable productivity as well. The Titans are banking that last year’s top pick Corey Davis will shake the injury bug and become a more consistent threat. Rishard Matthews is a decent No. 2 receiver, but beyond that there are lots of question marks. Taywan Taylor has potential and Tajae Sharpe returns after spending last year on injured reserve with a foot injury. Eric Decker and Harry Douglas exited as free agents, and the Titans probably need a veteran, as well as possibly a draft pick here. They were flirting with ex-Eagles and Bills receiver Jordan Matthews.
  1. Inside linebacker: Yes, the Titans brought in Will Compton to replace Avery Williamson. Compton was an overachiever for the Redskins, but is coming off an injury. The Titans probably need to add an inside linebacker not only for depth, but someone who can help out on special teams as well.

KEY PERSONNEL TRACKER (As of April 6)

PLAYERS RE-SIGNED

–DE DaQuan Jones: Potential UFA; $21M/3 yrs, $14M fully guaranteed/$4M SB.

–G Josh Kline: UFA; $26M/4 yrs, $12M guaranteed ($2.75M injury only at signing, $2M SB, $2.75M RB).

–K Ryan Succop: Potential UFA; $20M/5 yrs, $5.75M fully guaranteed/$3.5M SB/$1.75M injury only at signing.

PLAYERS ACQUIRED

–CB Jeremy Boykin: FA; $1.05M/2 yrs.

–CB Malcolm Butler: UFA Patriots; $61.25M/5 yrs, $30M guaranteed ($6M injury only at signing, $10M SB).

–S Don Carey: UFA Lions; $2.495M/2 yrs, $200K SB.

–LB Will Compton: UFA Redskins; terms unknown.

–QB Blaine Gabbert: UFA Cardinals; 1 yr, terms unknown.

–RB Dion Lewis: UFA Patriots; $19.8M/4 yrs, $8.25M guaranteed ($2.5M injury only at signing, $2.25M SB/$1.5M RB).

–G Kevin Pamphile: UFA Buccaneers; $1.4M/1 yr, $400K SB.

–G Xavier Su’a-Filo: UFA Texans; terms unknown.

PLAYERS LOST

–QB Matt Cassel (released).

–DL Karl Klug (released).

–RB DeMarco Murray (released).

–S Curtis Riley: Not tendered as ERFA/Giants; $990K/2 yrs.

–S Da’Norris Searcy (released).

–WR/KR Eric Weems (released).

–QB Brandon Weeden: UFA Texans; $880K/1 yr, $230K guaranteed/$90K SB.

–LB Avery Williamson: UFA Jets; $22.5M/3 yrs, $16M fully guaranteed/$6M SB.

–DT Sylvester Williams (released).

*NFLDraftScout.com analysts suggest (No. 25 overall)

Rob Rang (April 5 mock draft):

–Rashaan Evans, OLB, Alabama. The Titans could see Evans as a plug and play starter and ideal match with Wesley Woodyard after losing inside linebacker Avery Williamson to the Jets in the offseason. Evans is the classic ‘Bama ‘backer, athletic, tough and well-coached.

Dane Brugler (April 6 mock draft):

–Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan. The Titans addressed needs in free agency and don’t have a glaring hole, allowing them to go with the best player available approach. And in this scenario, that is Hurst, who surges off the snap to disrupt the pocket.

Agree? Disagree? Still shopping?

Based on the team’s current status, those are our suggestions for that first pick. To double check or find another candidate see full mocks and ratings at NFLDraftScout.com.

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