By John Glennon
It all seemed so obvious two months ago.
Desperate to do a better job attacking quarterbacks after posting a meager 19 sacks last season, the Titans’ biggest draft priority clearly appeared to be edge rusher at the time. That’s why I mocked Michigan’s Kwity Paye to them in the first round, giving the team a monstrous edge rusher who was big enough to be effective against the run as well.
But just as is always the case, free agency has a way of changing draft plans.
The Titans invested heavily in former Pittsburgh edge rusher Bud Dupree earlier this month, figuring Dupree’s high motor – not to mention his 19.5 sacks, 32 quarterback hits and 24 tackles for loss over the past two seasons – would be a huge benefit to the pass rush.
That doesn’t mean the Titans should ignore the edge rusher position in next month’s NFL Draft, as the team is paper thin on experience behind Dupree and Harold Landry. But having two bona fide starters on the outside at least takes edge rusher off the Titans’ top priority list, pushing it down a notch or two.
The Titans’ top two draft priorities at this point would appear to be cornerback and wide receiver, two more positions that look much different following free agency. At cornerback, the Titans released their top two corners from last season – Adoree Jackson and Malcolm Butler – while adding Janoris Jenkins and Kevin Johnson. At receiver, the Titans parted ways with Corey Davis and Adam Humphries, adding Josh Reynolds.
It’s with all those moves in mind that I put together a mini-Mock Draft 2.0, predicting which players the Titans will select in the first three rounds, with picks No. 22 (first round), 53 (second round), 85 (third round) and 100 (compensatory third round).
So without further ado, here are the picks:
Pick: First round (22nd overall)
Player: Jaycee Horn
School: South Carolina
Ht., wt.: 6-1, 205
2020 stats: In seven games last season, Horn posted 16 tackles, two interceptions and six passes defensed. He opted out of South Carolina’s final three games after coach Will Muschamp was fired.
Why the pick: One could make a good case for going with a wide receiver at this position as well. But at wide receiver, the Titans have at least one young, high-quality starter in A.J. Brown. At cornerback, they have one experienced cornerback in Jenkins and one young talent with unrealized potential in Kristian Fulton. It remains to be seen if Fulton will live up to his second-round selection last year. With that in mind – and also knowing one can never have enough talented corners – I’ll boost that position before looking anywhere else.