As next month’s NFL Draft rapidly approaches, selecting a cornerback in the first round is quickly becoming a likely scenario for the Tennessee Titans.
About a week ago, the Titans sent a few scouts to Vanderbilt’s pro day in their efforts to get better acquainted with hometown boy D.J. Moore, a versatile corner who can also be deadly on special teams as a return man.
In the weeks that lie ahead, Wake Forest’s miniature menace a.k.a. Alphonso Smith is scheduled to arrive in Nashville for a pre-draft visit. Also partaking in a tour of the Music City is Connecticut’s Darius Butler, who recently ran a blazing 4.38 40-yard dash at his pro day.
Let’s take a look at Moore, Smith, Butler and a few other CB candidates who could be in the running to be selected with pick #30.
Despite his lack of size, if it were up to me, Smith would be hearing his name called by the Titans with the 30th selection.
“Phonso” is a fearless force who has great ball skills and isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty by making tackles in run support. An intense competitor, he isn’t going to back down from the challenge of covering bigger receivers.
It’s typically a bigger man’s world in the NFL scouting process, as measurables reign supreme in the minds of many of the league’s talent evaluators. This mentality often leads to a guy such as Smith, who is talented but simultaneously vertically-challenged, being drafted a little lower than expected.
Hopefully, this mindset will result in Smith being available when the Titans are on the clock on draft day.
A few years ago, the Titans were faced with the enormous task of drafting a franchise quarterback. Despite Vandy’s Jay Cutler playing his college ball in the team’s backyard, the Titans decided to eschew the local guy in order to select the immensely talented Vince Young with the 3rd pick in the 2006 Draft.
Of course, 2009’s “cornerback conundrum” pales in comparison to the significance associated with choosing a franchise signal-caller three years ago. However, once again, a local kid has found his way onto the Titans’ draft-day radar.
Moore is a great athlete who is also a threat in the return game. Weeks ago, D.J. was Andrew’s choice in a mock draft he participated in. Judging by their turnout at Vandy’s recent pro day, the Titans appear to be very interested in keeping Moore in the city of Nashville for the foreseeable future.
Though I’m firmly in the Alphonso Smith camp, I’d have no problems with hearing Moore’s name announced as the Titans’ first-round selection on draft day.
Butler is a very intriguing talent. Regarded by many as a second-rounder several weeks ago, Butler may have ran himself into the first round with his impressive 4.38 showing in the 40-yard dash at UConn’s pro day.
We’re all aware of Mike Reinfeldt’s infatuation with impressive forty-times, so don’t be shocked at all if Butler emerges as a darkhorse at pick #30.
Jairus Byrd certainly has the bloodlines to be a talented CB in the NFL. His father, Gill, was a a two-time Pro Bowler at CB for the San Diego Chargers during his ten-year career in the league.
The stock of the younger Byrd appears to be moving in the upward direction as we approach the draft. He’s definitely a long-shot to be drafted by the Titans with pick #30, but who knows, crazier things have happened.
If the Titans are looking for a CB with size, then Sean Smith could be their guy. At 6’4″, Smith is a big kid who would have no problem matching up with the heights of the Andre Johnsons and Randy Mosses of the NFL world.
Of course, playing the corner effectively on the NFL level consists of a lot more than size. Despite his impressive height, Smith is still a bit of a work-in-progress as a result of only two years playing the CB position on a full-time basis.
It’s your turn, Titan fans: If the team decides to go the corner route with their first pick, who should they select?