Titans positional analysis – cornerbacks

There’s an old debate whether quality or quantity is more important. The Titans may find out this year — they’ve lost their quality cornerback and will try to compensate with quantity.
The best thing the quantity brings is depth at the position, and many coaches and general managers believe you can’t have enough cornerbacks.
Six is the magic number that all those corners will look at. That’s how many the Titans usually keep on the roster. The following nine players will compete for those projected six roster spots.
Nick Harper – The former Colt is the veteran of the group, now in his seventh NFL season. He should feel pretty much at home since Tennessee will revert to more zone coverage this year, in a cover-2 scheme. Harper played in a Tampa-2, a variation of cover-2, in Indianapolis. At this point, Harper looks to be in the lead for one of the starting jobs. Here’s something you’ll like about Harper — Indianapolis used their first two draft picks in 2005 and their second 2006 pick on cornerbacks, but Harper kept all of them sitting on the bench.
Reynaldo Hill – Now entering his third season, Hill is an incumbent who will have some very stiff competition to keep his starting job. The change in direction of less man and more zone coverage will benefit him. I believe Hill is continuing to improve and is a better player than he’s given credit for.
Kelly Herndon – Another offseason free agent acquisition, Herndon could compete for both a starting corner and a nickel job. The word is he was released by Seattle because Jim Mora Jr. didn’t think he’d fit in with his new system. Herndon is considered to be better inside than outside and brings five years of experience to the Titans. Mike Reinfeldt and Lake Dawson know him well from their time in Seattle, so I’m not worried about his ability.
Cortland Finnegan – The Titans’ nickel back last year, he also got one start at corner when Hill was out and played well. Although he’ll get a look at corner in training camp, I believe he’ll remain as the primary nickel. When asked last year about the possibility of moving Finnegan to corner, Jeff Fisher replied that two positions would be weakened by that move.
Michael Griffin – The Titans’ first-round draft pick was a safety in college but was drafted because he has the skills to play corner. You want your first-round pick to win a starting job and contribute, but Griffin will have a tough row to hoe trying to beat out some veteran corners, especially early in the season.
Andre Woolfolk – It’s put up or shut up time for Woolfolk. A former first-round selection, he lost his starting job to Hill two years ago and has seen only limited action since. Like Herndon, he’s better inside than out, which might be his best chance to make the team. His status as a former first-round pick doesn’t hurt his chances but he’ll need to take advantage of every opportunity he gets in camp and preseason games.
Ryan Smith – The Titans’ sixth-round draft pick, he’s considered to be someone who can be used in nickel and dime packages. Smith led the SEC in interceptions last year, so he should have very good ball skills.
Michael Waddell – He missed all of the 2006 season after an offseason knee injury and has a lot of ground to make up in working his way up the depth chart. Waddell was an excellent gunner prior to his knee injury but never contributed much in any other facet of the game. He was drafted in large part for his return skills but didn’t have much success in that area.
Eric King – Picked up as a free agent after the final roster cutdowns last year, King seems to be looking better. The coaches thought Buffalo must have some really good corners to let King go.
If the season was starting today, I believe the starting corners would be Harper and Hill, with Finnegan as the nickel. Herndon and Griffin would also be on the team, with the survivor of the other four contestants as the sixth man. In my opinion, Waddell is a long shot, leaving King, Woolfolk and Smith as the primary contenders to battle for the sixth spot.

Career Stats Gms Tkls Ints TDs PD
Nick Harper 89 396 15 1 42
Reynaldo Hill 30 104 5 1 9
Kelly Herndon 73 259 9 0 56
Cortland Finnegan 16 70 0 0 7
Andre Woolfolk 39 131 3 0 17
Michael Waddell 32 66 1 0 5
Eric King 27 33 0 0 4
Total 306 1,059 33 2 140
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