NFL math can be very complicated or very simple. The complicated end is the salary cap, and all the fun ways teams can manipulate it. The very simple end is roster size. When the Titans take the field in Pittsburgh in 4+ months, they’ll have at most 53 players on the active roster. The Titans head into this weekend with 10 picks in the 2009 NFL Entry Draft. But, do the Titans really have room for 10 new players?
There are currently, as I see it, 53 players with a particularly legitimate chance to make the active roster, and 35 players identified in bold I consider pretty much locks. Sorted by position group these are:
QB: Kerry Collins, Vince Young, Patrick Ramsey (QB #2)
RB: LenDale White, Chris Johnson, Chris Henry, Rafael Little
FB: Ahmard Hall, Casey Cramer
TE: Bo Scaife, Alge Crumpler, Craig Stevens
WR: Paul Williams, Justin Gage, Chris Davis, Mark Jones, Nate Washington, Lavelle Hawkins
OT: Mike Otto, Michael Roos, David Stewart
G: Jake Scott, Eugene Amano, Leroy Harris
C: Kevin Mawae
DT: Jovan Haye, Jason Jones, Kevin Vickerson, Tony Brown
DE: Jacob Ford, Jevon Kearse, Kyle Vanden Bosch, William Hayes, Dave Ball
LB: David Thornton, Ryan Fowler, Keith Bulluck, Stephen Tulloch, Colin Allred, Josh Stamer, Stanford Keglar, Ken Amato (LS)
CB: Nick Harper, Cortland Finnegan, Cary Williams, DeMarcus Faggins
S: Vinny Fuller, Donnie Nickey, Chris Hope, Michael Griffin, Tuff Harris
K: Rob Bironas
P: Craig Hentrich
Obviously not all of these 53 men will make the final roster. But, every single player listed above was on the active roster last year, a candidate to make the active roster last year who suffered an injury, or a noteworthy veteran acquisition this offseason.
Distributionally speaking, the above list of 53 isn’t quite right. There are a couple positions the Titans are virtually certain to address in the draft and then carry on the active roster-I’d be very surprised to see the Titans carry only 7 OL, and expect them to draft two, including an OT backup and an interior lineman, and at least 1 to make the 53 man. CB is another position the Titans will address-even with Fuller to play the nickel, I can’t see Williams or Faggins as for sure the Titans’ #3 CB. I also have a very difficult time seeing the Titans keep 6 players at the RB/FB position. 4 is more likely, so that may be where you see the OL and CB spaces come from.
Having found space for 2 draft picks, that leaves the Titans with 8 remaining who don’t necessarily have a space on the active roster. To make the team, these players will have to beat out one of the guys listed above. That simply won’t happen for all 8, so the Titans are faced with a choice: draft players who you know won’t make the active roster, or turn more picks into fewer picks. With untradeable compensatory picks in the 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th rounds, the Titans’ trade flexibility is more limited than it would otherwise be, but if there’s a player they’re targeting, they not only can but should be aggressive in trading picks to move up and grab him.
What’s your take? Dislike any of the 35 guys I listed as locks for the 53 man? See anybody else out there who you like to make the active roster? How many of their draft picks can the Titans keep, really? If the Titans do move up, when should they move up-early on in the first or second, or more like the 4th?