NFL Draft
Tennessee Titans 2006 Draft Preview
By Colin Lindsay
February 15th, 2006, 12:33

Editor's Note: Colin Lindsey, editor and publisher of the Great Blue North Draft Report, will be sharing his thoughts on the Tennessee Titans draft in a series of articles leading up to the 2006 NFL Draft.

Titans turning corner???
No, thatís not a dig at the Pacman, the enigmatic CB the Titansí selected in a controversial move with the 6th pick at the 2005 draft. However, after two very uncharacteristic down years, Tennessee fans can only hope as the team heads in to the 2006 draft with the 3rd pick overall, the Titans highest pick in over a decade. Ironically, the Titans also had the 3rd pick in 1995 which they used to pick QB Steve McNair who has been one of the best in league and the Titansí leader ever since. Adding to the irony is that the Titans are pretty much a lock to use the 3rd pick this year on McNairís ultimate replacement, most likely Texas junior QB Vince Young, who emerged as a legitimate candidate to be the #1 player taken this year after leading the Longhorns to that dramatic win over Southern Cal in the Rose Bowl for the national title.

To QB or not to QB that is the question!!! (To quote the bard whom Iím told was indeed something of a Titansí fan.) Things can change, of course, between now and April 29th, however, it appears already to be pretty much a lock that the Titans will select Young with the third pick overall at the 2006 draft. Houston, which has the top pick overall, has apparently re-committed to David Carr, the #1 selection overall in 2002, and will almost certainly select Southern Cal RB Reggie Bush with the top pick. Meanwhile, it also appears that QB Matt Leinart, Bushís Southern Cal backfield mate, will end up in New Orleans which has the second pick overall. Leinart is a far more polished passer than Young and likely will be the better fit in the kind of offense that new Saintsí head coach Sean Payton is going to try and install in New Orleans. And that should leave Young, who many draft analysts feel is the best prospect overall this year, for the Titans.

Despite the accolades, though, Young is still something of a boom-or-bust type prospect. No question Young is a great athlete with a cannon of an arm. However, we always worry about a player who makes his reputation doing something other than what heís going to have to do in the NFL. In this case, Young went from being a very interesting prospect to the potential top pick overall based on his performance in just one game, the Rose Bowl. And while Young was sensational in the Longhornsí win over Bush, Leinart and the rest of the Trojans, he did it mostly with his legs, whereas heíll have to win games through the air at the next level. And while he has a cannon of an arm and throws well on the move, Young has lousy mechanics in the pocket and has yet to prove he can consistently find a receiver in tight coverage. Getting the opportunity to sit and learn for a couple of years behind a veteran like McNair, though, would be about the best thing that could happen to Young.

The Titans draft starts here... One thing Titansí fans will have to get used to over the course of the next couple of months is the fact that the selection of Young with the 3rd overall pick could very well be end up being rather anti-climactic once the pick is made sometime around 12:40 PM ET on the 29th of April. Meaning, for many Titansí loyalists, the real draft wonít start until the second round. And while the Titans will be thrilled to add a young QB with elite potential for the future, the teamís most immediate needs are on defense which has big holes at LB and safety.

The top LBs in the 2006 draft class, such as A.J. Hawk of Ohio State, DeMeco Ryans of Alabama, Chad Greenway of Iowa and Florida State junior Ernie Sims will be long gone by the time the Titans make their second round pick. However, the Titans certainly should have a shot at either or both of talented MLB prospects Abdul Hodge of Iowa and DíQwell Jackson of Maryland, the top two inside backers in the 2006 draft field. Physically the two are like two peas in a pod: they are both a tad undersized at around 6-0, 230 and both run just under 4.7 in the 40. The similarities end there though as Iowaís Hodge is something of a heat-seeking missile who is very aggressive defending the run, but looks a little lost sometimes in coverage, while Jackson is very good in coverage, but not as dominating defending the run. There is a major drop-off at MLB after those two; however, the Titans should have options at the position in the 4th round (Tennessee doesnít have a 3rd rounder this year having traded it to Buffalo last year to acquire RB Travis Henry) such as players like Gerris Wilkinson of Georgia Tech, Justin London of UCLA, Kai Parham of Virginia, Fred Roach of Alabama or Nick Reid of Kansas -- each of whom is a productive player in his own right. However, they all lack the overall athleticism and instincts of Hodge and Jackson.

The Titans could also look at an OLB such as Thomas Howard of UTEP or Bobby Carpenter of Ohio State with their #2 pick. Again, though, they are very different players. Howard, with reported 4.45 speed, for example, is fast and athletic, however, he has questionable instincts and isnít all that physical at the point of attack. Carpenter, on the other hand, has prototype SSLB size, plus has very good speed (4.55) of his own, but isnít overly athletic and still has to prove that he can be an every down player at the next level. What may put a little extra pressure on the Titans to take one of the OLBs at #39 is that there really isnít much depth at the position and the chances of getting someone who can contribute on the second day arenít as strong as they are at other positions of need such as ILB and DT.   

Safety first or last as the case may beÖ Other than LB, the Titansí major area of concern on defense is at safety where the team is likely to undergo a complete makeover this coming season. And there is something of a good news, bad news story as far as the Titansí aspirations at the position at the 2006 draft go. The bad news is that this yearís safety class has little in the way of star potential. Indeed, its possible that no pure safety will be selected at all in this yearís opening round, although CBs Michael Huff of Texas and Jimmy Williams of Virginia Tech, both of whom are expected to gone within the first 20 picks this year, are converted safeties who could ultimately end up at FS in the pros. The Titans may also hope that a player like South Carolina star sophomore FS Ko Simpson slips down to the 39th pick, but thatís highly unlikely. Instead, the safeties the Titans are likely to be looking at with their #2 pick would be former SEC stars like Greg Blue of Georgia or Jason Allen of Tennessee. However, both would appear to be reaches at #39, although Allen was considered to be a potential first rounder at CB prior to hurting a knee this year.

The good news for the Titans at safety is that there is some depth at the position and there should be some decent options when the Titans make their 4th round pick. Safeties that would be in the early second-day mix this coming April include the likes of Daniel Bullocks of Nebraska, Purdue junior Bernard Pollard, Roman Harper of Alabama, Pat Watkins of Florida State and Dawan Landry of Georgia Tech.
 
There's a little more good news of sorts re the safety position and that's the fact that the position could be something of a strength in 2007 where top FSs Brandon Meriweather of Miami and LaRon Landry of LSU surprised the NFL and opted to return to school for their senior years. They will be joined by solid veterans Will Herring of Georgia and Michael Griffen of Texas at FS and Jesse Daniels of LSU and Eric Weddle of Utah at SS.  Again, though, there wonít necessarily be a lot of depth at either position come April 2007.
 
Coming attractions... We'll be back next month with some thoughts on trade possibilities for the Titans as well as an overview of the other positions the Titans likely will be focused on at the 2006 draft.


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