I recently wrote about three defenders I don’t want the Titans to draft in the first round, so now it’s time for the flipside, three defenders I wouldn’t mind seeing the Titans draft. I still think mostly the same as I did a couple days ago, so I’m going to continue to be most interested in players I think can have an impact against the pass who play on the defensive side of the ball.
First off, there are two players I’m not going to write about here, namely Mississippi State DT Fletcher Cox and North Carolina DE Quinton Coples. I think Cox has a serious chance to go as early as sixth overall to the Rams, while Coples may go as early as seventh overall to the Jaguars. I expect there’s at least a 90% chance both players are gone by the time the Titans are on the board, so they’re not worth talking about. If either or both is on the board and there’s not a serious red flag we don’t know about, I’m interested. Three players who I’m also interested in who are more likely to be around are:
Michael Brockers, DT, LSU: How much do you trust defensive line coach Tracy Rocker and pass rush coach Keith Millard? If it’s a lot, then you think a lot about Brockers as potentially a very special mold of clay for them to lump. The biggest knock on him is he hasn’t done much very impressive on the field. Very few splash plays, and rarely enough impressive in his own right. If Brockers doesn’t improve, he should be a decent run-stuffing tackle anyway, but might not do anything rushing the passer and leave the game on third downs. If he improves the way you want him to, you have a player who gets written up as “should have gone in the top seven” when I do my draft recap six years later.
Dre Kirkpatrick, CB/FS, Alabama: As I’ve written before, I don’t think the Titans are very interested in taking a corner in the first round. Behind Claiboren, though, Kirkpatrick or Stephn Gilmore is generally regarded as the second-best corner in the draft. Kirkpatrick’s on my radar, though, as a free safety conversion project more than as a corner. He’s a tall player with good coverage skills who would probably be better suited as a zone corner in the NFL. Thus, safety. He has some good zone experience and was physical against the run enough safety makes some sense. I’m generally not a fan of projecting a player to a position he’s never played before, especially in the first round, but the downside is, you end up with a good but limited corner. I’m on board for trying that projection.
Devon Still, DT, Penn State: In some sense, an anti-Brockers, a four-year player (Brockers played two, plus his redshirt year), Still was a consistent producer his senior year for the first time. Like every defensive lineman who’s had both good and bad games, this got him pegged “inconsistent.” His biggest problem is a tendency to get up too high if his initial move doesn’t work. This is a fairly common problem among college defensive lineman (Fletcher Cox has the same issue), and is generally regarded as fixable. He’s reasonably quick, though not exceptionally so, but pretty strong and much more consistent than another player projected in roughly the same range, Michigan State DT Jerel Worthy.
For my next draft post, I’ll write about some of the offensive players the Titans might be looking at in the first couple rounds.