Three defenders I don’t want the Titans to draft in the first round

For me, writing about the draft is tough. I don’t have a scout’s eyes for player technique and translatable skills. Even with the signing of Kam Wimbley, the Titans could use another defensive end. Andrew wrote about how he wasn’t a fan of the top defensive ends. Personally, I don’t know whether a guy like Whitney Mercilus, Nick Perry, or Andre Branch will be the next Jevon Kearse, capable of transforming a defense that was average-ish to one that’s pretty good, or the next Vernon Gholston, a player who doesn’t make the transition to the next level, and I’m not going to pretend I do.

While I’m not going to try to give you answers, there are things I know I like and things I don’t like. As my post on depth chart holes indicated, the Titans do have some positional needs. My belief, though, is smart teams don’t let their vision get constrained by just the depth chart, but build the best team they can. That may mean filling depth chart holes at times, but it means looking at the roster more holistically. And as I see it, the Titans’ biggest problem is they don’t have enough stand-out defensive players-based on 2011 play, maybe Kamerion Wimbley and that’s it.

With that in mind, here are three defensive players I see mocked in the 10-25 range I don’t want the Titans to draft in the first round later this month:

Mark Barron, S, Alabama: I don’t care if he’s a 10-year starter at strong safety and an outstanding box player. Unless he can cover standout tight ends man-to-man and play outstanding zone coverage, and I’m far from convinced he can, he’s a luxury pick of the sort the Titans can’t and shouldn’t take.
Chance he’s there at #20: 50%? If I’m mocking the draft based on what I think teams should do, he goes to the Patriots at #28. Still, as we learned when the Titans franchised Michael Griffin, team are hoarding safeties, and in the draft it only takes one GM.

Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College: Like Barron, another player who will probably be a 10-year starter. Whether he plays Will or Mike (with McCarthy moving to Will), like safeties who don’t excel against the pass, cover linebackers are luxuries for teams that can afford him.
Chance he’s there at #20: Maybe 30-40%. He may be an option for the Bears at #19.

Courtney Upshaw, DE, Alabama: I know I said I don’t trust my ability to tell which potential defensive ends will emerge as a star and which will struggle, but Upshaw more than any other player in this draft looks to me like a 3-4 OLB who needs to play off the line or he’s likely to get engulfed by offensive tackles.
Chance he’s there at #20: 40%? The Jets at #16 seem like a natural fit, but if they don’t take him, he could fall.

I’ll have another article on some players I wouldn’t mind seeing the Titans take. Is there anybody you don’t want to see them draft in the first round, on defense or not?

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