>\n\nWorst to First: 16. Tennessee Titans \n\n\n\n

Worst to First: 16. Tennessee Titans

Written by Ben Morgan on 04/11/2010

What makes a team go from contender to catastrophe overnight? In turn, what makes a catastrophe into one of the hottest teams over the course of a bye week? Well I'm not sure of the former but the latter, well a combination of a rejuvenated Vince Young, a team that gave everything for him and the best performance by a Running Back in ages. Where does that leave Kerry Collins?? For the Tennessee TItans 2009 was a series of epic lows and giddy heights as they went on an 8-2 run to finish out the season. For some fans finishing 8-8 would be a season to forget but this is a bittersweet season. Yes they missed the playoffs but contained within that season is the greatest Runningback performance since Barry Sanders was lighting up the league and one of, if not the best drives to win a game. A 99 yard drive led by Vince Young (yes Vince Young!), converting 3 4th downs and culminating in a jump catch by Kenny Britt on 4th down as time expired. Britt holding on despite being bounced around like a pinball on the way to the ground. Epic. I'm not even a Titans fan but I can watch that drive again and again. But where does this leave the TItans? Well for one thing they may just have a QB they can count on again. Maybe. Let's cast our gaze over the rest of Jeff Fisher's crew and see what they need, what they've got and what they think they've got.

2010 Free Agent Losses 2010 Free Agent Additions
Alge Crumpler TE (UFA), Chris Davis WR (UFA), Kyle Vanden Bosch DE (UFA) Jason Babin DE (UFA), Tye Hill CB (UFA-cut), Ricky Schmitt K (RFA), Will Witherspoon MLB (UFA-cut)
2010 Unsigned Free Agents 2011 Potential Free Agents
Tony Brown DT (RFA), Keith Bulluck OLB (UFA), Nick Harper CB (UFA), Craig Hentrich P (UFA), Kevin Kaesviharn DB (UFA), Jevon Kearse DE (UFA), Kevin Mawae C (UFA), Stephen Tulloch MLB (RFA), Kevin Vickerson DT (RFA), LenDale White RB (RFA)
Colin Allred LB (RFA), Jason Babin DL (UFA), Dave Ball DE (UFA), Kerry Collins QB (UFA), Jacob Ford DE (RFA), Ahmard Hall RB (UFA), Leroy Harris OG (RFA), Mark Jones WR (UFA), Brett Kern P (RFA), Donnie Nickey S (UFA), Bo Scaife TE (UFA), David Thornton LB (UFA), Pago Togafau LB (RFA), Jamie Winborn LB (UFA)

Quarterbacks Minimal Need
Well what a turnaround from last year. Kerry Collins went in as the starter and by the bye week Tennessee were 0-6. The last thing anyone probably thought would happen was for Vince Young to come in and turn the team around. It's not that Young put up stellar numbers or carried the team on his back, what was surprising to me was how the team responded to him and fought for him. The end result? An 8-2 record and 1 revitalised NFL Career. They'll keep Kerry Collins as his backup but they could definitely look for a QB in this draft as well. Collins is a free agent next year and Young will be the following year. Let's not forget Young still didn't really show that he could win the game by himself with any regularity. I doubt they'd risk Young's new found confidence by going after a tumbling Jimmy Clausen in round 1. They'd probably be looking more developmental type they can have running the scout team this year and maybe backing up in 2011.

Runningbacks Minimal Need
What do you say about Chris Johnson? Well I've got little to say other than I hope he can keep it up. Many backs have faltered under the workload he had last year. And to think, this was a guy who was a reach and could only be a complimentary back! Whatever. LenDale White wants a trade to get more playing time elsewhere. I'm thinking as a restricted free agent he's going to be a Titan next year unless they decide they don't want him. I'm sure Jeff Fisher is going to want to limit CJ's carries on the inside this year so White and useful looking sophomore player Javon Ringer should get more carries their way this year. I'm not seeing much cause for a draft pick here unless White gets his way and gets out of town. A guy like C.J. Spiller is always going to look enticing of course, especially given his return abilities (an area of weakness currently) but there could be other guys later on they may consider for that sort of role. Dexter McCluster or Joe McKnight perhaps. If they do pick up a RB I think it could be someone who'll mostly be a returner as a rookie and maybe someone who can spell CJ in 2011 when LenDale may be gone.

Wide Receivers Minor Need
Nate Washington returned numbers you'd expect of a #3 WR in his first year in Tennessee. The same sort of numbers he'd posted in Pittsburgh. Unfortunately, he did them whilst starting for the Titans. Justin Gage didn't manage much either. However, first round rookie Kenny Britt was the Titans top receiver (yardagewise at least) and flashed the ability he was drafted for in a 5 week stretch when Gage was injured. He should really move into a starting position this year. In reality Nate Washington is best suited to a 3 WR set deep threat himself so there is a need here for another starting WR. But on a team that is run first (and run second) is it really a pick well spent? Probably not.

Tight Ends Minimal Need
With Bo Scaife franchised it gives the Titans another year to develop last year's 3rd round pick Jared Cook. Scaife is nothing more than an average NFL TE though so they're going to need to hurry Cook's development along. Vince Young could use the targets. If Cook doesn't show some somes of getting "it" in OTAs they could look at another option in the draft with a few good men probably available with one of their two 3rd or 4th round picks this year. Craig Stevens should be the blocking TE. Let's assume Cook can move it along sooner rather than later and call it Minimal Need for now.
 
Offensive Line No Need
When yourlead he league in yards per rush attempt and only 1 team gives up fewer sacks than you, your offensive line is obviously doing something right. Sure it helps in the run game that you have Chris Johnson's big play runs and it helps you don't pass very much and your QB is very mobile. But still... Whilst Kevin Mawae won't be starting this year it looks like they'll slide Eugene Amano to Center (he's the guy who made Jacob Bell forgettable) and plug Leroy Haris in at LG. Seemes a little odd given that Harris has been a backup Center and Amano has excelled at LG. But between the two of them it appears they've got the situation covered. On the whole the Titans line is young, exceptionally good and mostly signed long term so there's not an awful lot of need here at all. Maybe a depth pick later on?

Defensive Tackles Minor Need
Clearly they're still missing Albert Haynesworth (and who wouldn't?) but Tony Brown is an underrated guy. Underrated outside of Nashville anyway. The Titans gave him a first round RFA tender and they're talking about a long term deal. Jason Jones was lost for most of the season in 2009 but still was showing some good pass rush. SenDerrick Marks was a virtual bystander though. They're going to need more from him in his second year. I'd like to say the Titans did a good job defending the run but they were so poor defending the pass that teams didn't have to run all that much against them. So it's a little tough to say. Still if they can get a full season from Jason Jones and Marks can improve they should be ok. Course it wouldn't hurt to have a guy like Dan Williams or Brian Price on the team either... Looking at the worst case scenario in which Jones and Marks don't do what's expected of them then this is something of a need.

Defensive Ends Major Need
With Jevon Kearse's career in Tennessee over (it had been on the downturn for some time anyway) there is a shortage of genuine pass rush ability on the outside. They'll boast William Hayes on one end (4 sacks last year) and they have stouter Dave Ball rotating with faster Jacob Ford (possibly the best pure pass rusher on the team right now) and recently signed Jason Babin but this is clearly the position they could and should be looking at in the draft. Their woeful 2009 pass defense needs all the help it can get and Joe Haden won't last that long so they need to pressure the QB some more to help the secondary out. This is a possible landing place fo Jason Pierre-Paul or Derrick Morgan, Brandon Graham, etc. And with no second round pick it'll be tough to find much of an upgrade to the pass rush with any other pick. 

Linebackers Minor Need
Stephen Tulloch led the team in tackles and holds down the middle. He's young, talented and got a first round RFA tender so there's a good chance they'll be working on a long term extension this offseason. Gerald McRath is the likely starter on the strong side having been a 4th round pick last year. He could be in line to replace David Thornton who's had injury trouble. They've also signed Will Witherspoon who you figure will man the position vacated by Keith Bullock. Though Fisher hasn't ruled out Bullock coming back in some capacity but with his and Thornton's injury issues they could be lacking in some depth. Covering that with another draft choice similar to McRath might be smart.

Cornerbacks Major Need
Cortland Finnegan's a pro bowl corner but opposite him there's big question marks. They like young Ryan Mouton and it seems like there'll be a competition between him, Jason McCourty and Roderick Hood. Maybe newly signed Tye Hill will be in that mix too but clearly if Joe Haden were to fall to 16 there probably wouldn't be much hesitation before drafting him. If they can't get Haden #16 may be too early for a guy like Kyle Wilson and with their next pick not being until 77 it could be a long wait to fill that need. Maybe a bit too long to fill it well. So reaching for a CB or trading down is a distinct possibility.

Safeties Minor Need
Michael Griffin was a pro bowler in 2008 but struggled through injuries and inconsistency last year. Assuming he's healthy again his performance should improve and they're not likely to give up on a first rounder after 1 poor year. Chris Hope has been around the block and is still a solid Safety but he's not a *really* special player and hasn't come that close to replicating his first season in a Titans uniform. I think the Titans have bigger needs than Safety but a guy like Earl Thomas or Taylor Mays would bring some big play ability to the Defensive backfield so they shouldn't be overlooked. But if the TItans can improve the pass rush the current Safeties are going to be in positions to make more big plays anyway. Some teams look at Earl Thomas as having CB ability as well so he could be a very realistic pick at 16 if he were around. Depth is so-so so I'm going to call this Minor Need. They could go into the season with what they have and be ok but there's scope for an impact player if all the best pass rushers are off the board.

Specialists Minor Need
Rob Bironas is still one of the best kickers in the league, particularly from long distances. They also already have their camp leg in Ricky Schmitt. On the punting side though Craig Hentrich called it a career leaving a big hole. One that I'm not sure Brett Kern can fill. When you get beaten out of Denver by Mitch Berger you're in trouble. Kern gets good distance but the knock on him in Denver was he out kicked his coverage going for distance over hangtime. Kern definitely improved in his stint in Tennessee but I could see the Titans using a late rounder to get the best punting prospect into camp as well.

Return Game Major Need
There's not really much of a spark here. Definitely something they could look to improve. Some of the Cornerback and/or WR prospects they will be looking at may bring something, Kenny Britt was probably the best kick off returner last year. He wasn't great and as his role in the offense increases they'll no doubt want to reduce his exposure on returns. Definitely need here and may even warrant a draft pick. 

Dream Day One
     
1.16 Brandon Graham DE Michigan
   
Player Visits
Corey Peters DT Kentucky
Ted Larsen C North Carolina State
Patrick Robinson CB Florida State
Dexter McCluster RB Mississippi
Jordan Shipley WR Texas
Myron Lewis CB Vanderbilt
Hall Davis DE Louisiana-Lafayette
Rusty Smith QB Florida Atlantic
Sergio Kindle DE Texas
Perrish Cox CB Oklahoma State
Kyle Wilson CB Boise State
Joe Haden CB Florida
Levi Brown QB Troy
Dan LeFevour QB Central Michigan
Marshwan Gilyard WR Cincinnati
Jerry Hughes DE Texas Christian
Major Wright S Florida
Jason Pierre-Paul DE South Florida
Rennie Curran OLB Georgia
Anthony Dixon RB Mississippi State
Curtis Steele RB Memphis
Ryan Hamilton S Vanderbilt
Myron Lewis CB Vanderbilt
Greg Billinger DT Vanderbilt
Thomas Welch OT Vanderbilt
Earl Thomas S Texas
Montario Hardesty RB Tennessee
Rolando McClain ILB Alabama
Antonio Brown WR Central Michigan
Brandon Graham DE Michigan
Carlton Mitchell WR South Florida
Daryl Washington ILB Texas Christian

 

Last Edited: 04/11/2010




Get Firefox!

© 2004-2009 DBI Media, LLC (Photos by AP) | Terms of Use and Disclaimer | Privacy Policy