Ripping off some other site’s brilliant idea, I thought I’d do a sort of “ideal draft” for the Titans from the perspective of both sides of the ball, and started with the offense. I ran into a basic problem, though.
Back when I did a post on setting roster expectations, I counted thirteen absolute locks on the offensive side of the ball. Realistically, though, in Kropog, Otto, and Ringer/White, there are three more essentially locks, bringing you up to 16 offensive players. Considering that the 53-man roster will be roughly split between offense and defense, that leaves room for 8 more offensive players.
The question, though, is how you allocate those players. I started this exercise by taking WR Dez Bryant in the first round, for a couple reasons: I think it’s realistic he could be there, the character issues are a minor concern and not a severe one for me, and he’d be an additional gamebreaker for the Titans’ offense.
Adding Bryant to the existing list of wideouts, though, gives you four players who expect to play every week-Gage, Britt, and Washington all surely do, and are being paid like it. The Titans generally don’t like to keep more than 4 wideouts active, even when they’ve carried 6, so drafting Dez Bryant makes it unlikely they’d add another wideout like Jacoby Ford to address the kick/punt returner need, especially since none of the big four wideouts is likely a special teams player. For this reason, I’d guess the Titans are not likely to take Dez Bryant, and if they do, they will look to move one of the existing wideouts.
If they do take Bryant, I would expect them to try to move one of the existing top 3 wideouts. Britt isn’t a candidate in that for my mind, so it’s Gage or Washington. I’m not sure how much of Washington’s current and future money is guaranteed, but Gage would be the most attractive. He’s scheduled to make a reasonable $1.5 million this year, plus a $500k roster bonus, and a base salary of $3.5 million next year. Washington is much more expensive, with base salaries of $3.3 million or more through 2014. I doubt he has any trade value, so the Titans would have to cut him if they don’t see him in their long term plans.
Since this is just a thought experiment, I’ll still take Bryant and sort out the WR logjam best I can; Gage may get cut next year anyway, so that’ll resolve itself. I need a returner, though, and I’d rather get that at RB than WR. So, come on down Dexter McCluster (who will probably be gone by the time of the Titans’ 3rd round pick). He’s sort of a RB/slot guy hybrid, so his primary value to the Titans will be as a returner more than on the offense, but he can still be a useful part.
With McCluster, that gives the Titans two definite RBs, plus Ringer or White. That’s your active roster most gamedays, but the Titans could probably use another body at the position, and it’d be useful if that was somebody like Ganther who can play FB if necessary. In the interim, though, one thing the Titans have done the last few years is carry 4 TEs. Scaife, Stevens, and Cook makes three, so we need another. Most of the potential TEs are more H-back types, but the Titans already have two of those in Scaife and Cook; in-line TEs are a rarer commodity, but one possibility is Iowa TE Tony Moeaki. He has an injury history, so he’s a risk, but between him and Stevens, there should be 1 in-line blocker healthy every week, even if only that 1.
Having added a WR, RB, and TE, the question is what else the Titans are looking for. Another offensive line prospect rarely goes awry, but the question is what? With Eugene Amano’s new deal, center can likely be added to left tackle and right tackle as on the list of positions the Titans will not look to address. Leroy Harris’ deal expires after this year, plus Jake Scott’s contract runs out through 2011, so the Titans may be in the guard market in the next two years. One player who could be a target in the fourth round is Utah lineman Zane Beadles.
Another positional need for the Titans is developmental quarterback. With VY seeming to make the strides he needs to be a star going forward, an ideal backup for 2011 and beyond is not a classic pocket passer like Collins but instead somebody with some mobility. Oklahoma State QB Zac Robinson seems like a guy who could be a good fit.
Thus far, I’ve made the first 5 picks and have 4 left, two each in the last two rounds. By now, I have a tenuous grasp of who’s available and I’m not sure anybody drafted this late will beat out somebody else on the team. One player who might be a target is Kentucky FB John Conner, who could probably be an immediate player on special teams and could stand a year of development before hopefully replacing Hall as a the starter in 2011.
3 picks left, but aside from developmental linemen or maybe a WR who’ll get cut after training camp, I have no strong preferences and less interest in coming up and defending a name, so I’ll end this here. One thing I think I got out of this little exercise is the Titans are in reasonably decent shape from an offensive personnel perspective. They could use another gamebreaker, of whom Bryant looks like the most likely candidate, but overall this looks like a draft the Titans will and should target defensive players heavily. Then again, check back tomorrow when I do this from the other side.
What about you, reader? What would an ideal draft for the offense look like to you?