Mock draft picks I don’t get: Kenny Vaccaro

I write little about general mock drafts on here, simply because I don't find it a useful way for me to spend my time. Doing a really good mock draft is a pain in the butt, since it requires intimate knowledge of the depth chart, priorities, and organizational philosophies of 32 different teams, probably at least a quarter of which have general managers in their first or second draft and thus a highly limited track record on which to make predictions. Perhaps I'm just exceptionally dense, but I didn't predict the Titans to take either Kendall Wright last year or Jake Locker the year before, even when the Titans were on the clock, and I spend a heck of a lot more time thinking about and analyzing the Titans, their needs, and their philosophies than anybody whose job it is to cover the league as a whole.

At the same time, the process of thinking about the draft includes the fact that the Titans are not operating in a vacuum but are competing, more or less, with the other 31 NFL teams, which means we have to spend time thinking about what other teams will do, how they might value prospects, and to get differing opinions on how an actual draft might play out and see how different evaluators rank different prospects.

Keeping all that in mind, I read the various mock drafts out there and generally pass most over without a second thought. There's one prospect in particular I see being mocked to the Titans with their first-round pick that I simply cannot see them taking at all, and that's safety Kenny Vaccaro. Forget what you think of adding another University of Texas player after the Titans' extensive and mixed record of players from there. Forget what you think about the idea of taking a safety with the tenth pick. Forget what you think of Vaccaro as a player, whether that's as the consensus best player in the draft at a position of increasing importance or as a player whose inconsistent collegiate tape made him more of a borderline first-round selection.

Ask yourself, instead, the first question the Tennessee Titans will be asking of any player they take in the 2013 draft, especially early: will this player improve us in 2013? The Titans have a starting free safety, Michael Griffin. If they didn't like Michael Griffin enough to play him a lot, he wouldn't be on the team right now because they had a chance to cut him. The Titans this offseason signed two starting-caliber strong safeties, George Wilson and Bernard Pollard. While my preference is for interchangeable safeties and I don't like Wilson or Pollard that much in coverage, I don't run the team or call the defense. Jerry Gray does, and that's what he likes. Barring injury, I can't see Vaccaro on the field ahead of any of those three players. In that case, his value to the Titans in 2013 is minimal, and that's enough to eliminate him in my mind from first-round consideration.

Beyond safety/Vaccaro, there aren't many popular picks for the Titans I absolutely cannot see happening. I strongly doubt they take a wide receiver, but (a) I thought that last year and (b) outside of some affection for Cordarrelle Patterson I suspect is Vol-related, I don't see a lot of enthusiasm or support for any quarter from spending the tenth pick on a wide receiver. I can't see the Titans taking a quarterback there, but I haven't seen anybody suggesting that lately. I don't think they want to or will take Dee Milliner if he's available there, but I think they need a corner and could see it happening. My attention is the same place it's been, on one of the interior offensive linemen or the best available defensive lineman, any one of whom at least theoretically could fit into what I think they may want to do on defense.

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