It's draft week.
As I did last year, I thought I would take a look at which positions the Titans are likely to draft and which positions the Titans are not likely to draft. This series proved mostly successful last year, as with one exception the Titans drafted a player at every position I thought there was a significant likelihood of drafting a player and did not draft a player at any position where I thought they were unlikely to draft any players. That exception was at offensive guard/center, where I thought the Titans were 99% likely to draft at least one player and they of course ended up not drafting any players. Well, this is a chance to do better.
In doing this exercise, I tried to keep firmly in mind that the Titans have nine draft picks, so their chance of drafting any single position is higher than it would be if they entered the draft with only seven draft picks, as they did last year. My first cut at odds by each position ended up my predicting the Titans to draft six players, so I went through and adjusted them higher. They're still only a shade under eight instead of nine, but I think the Titans given their roster could be willing to trade up in this draft. If the odds of drafting at a particular position seem high to you, well, I probably agree with you in the abstract but suggest resetting your expectations.
I'll cover the offense in this post and the defense in a subsequent post. Note as well this is a draft preview rather than a position overview; I did one of those after the big wave of free agency ended last month. That said, on with the show.
Need at position: Low to very low
Analysis: Jake Locker is your starter. Ryan Fitzpatrick is your backup. Rusty Smith is entering the final year of his deal and has already exceeded my expectation for the length of his Titans tenure. It's not out of the question the Titans could draft a QB in the late rounds to compete for the QB3 job, but I doubt it happens.
Draft probability: 10%
Players they might target: Whichever 6th-7th round arm they like best
Need at position: Low to moderate
Analysis: As at quarterback, the Titans have a top settled top two and a bottom of the depth chart that's more muddied. If they liked Jamie Harper, they would not have signed Shonn Greene, at least not for the money they paid him. Darius Reynaud is a special teams player. The Titans could think they're good enough at the position, but it wouldn't surprise me at all if they drafted a back in the middle or later rounds.
Draft probability: 40%
Players they might target: Depends on what they're looking for. Players who might be near replacement level runners include Montee Ball (3rd-4th), Le'Veon Bell (3rd-4th), Stepfan Taylor (4th-6th).
Need at position: Low or moderate to high
Analysis: Depending on your point of view, the Titans are either relatively set or have a major need at wide receiver. I don't think you can improve on a top three of Britt-Washington-Wright in terms of 2013 performance in the draft, and Damian Williams is a solid utility fourth receiver. At the same time, Kendall Wright is the only receiver under contract through 2014 who's likely to be around come the beginning of 2014. If the Titans believe in proactively addressing future problems, there's a good chance they draft a wide receiver no later than the fourth round. As I've said before, though, I believe 2014's problems are 2014's problems.
Draft probability: 25%
Players they might target: If they draft a wide receiver, I expect him to be at least 6'0" tall and weigh at least 195 pounds unless he's a slot guy.
Need at position: Low
Analysis: The Titans are relatively set at the top three with Craig Stevens, Delanie Walker, and Taylor Thompson. If they're planning on playing a lot of 2TE, and I think they are, they may be interested in a fourth, and that player may come in the draft. I'm not sure they are that interested in a fourth.
Draft probability: 20%
Players they might target: Pick a random tight end in the fifth round or later
Need at position: Low or moderate
Analysis: Michael Roos and David Stewart is a good pair of starting tackles. Mike Otto can do a credible job filling in for a brief stretch if Stewart's broken leg limits him at the start of the season. Roos and Stewart both are under contract through 2014, but 2014 is voidable; I don't know what the void conditions are, but if the Titans aren't confident in Byron Stingily's development a new offensive tackle could easily be an option.
Draft probability: 30%
Players they might target: I doubt it's a priority, so pick your favorite late round developmental prospect.
Need at position: Extremely high
Analysis: I've written enough about the gaping hole at starting right guard. Left guard is set. Fernando Velasco is not locked in at center. Rob Turner and Chris Spencer are not signed past 2013, so do not assume the Titans are limited to drafting only one interior offensive lineman
Draft probability: 100% for at least one pick, 50% for multiple picks
Players they might target: Jonathan Cooper (1st), Chance Warmack (1st), Larry Warford (2nd), Brian Winters (3rd), C Brian Schwenke (3rd-4th), C Travis Frederick (3rd-4th), C Khaled Holmes (3rd-5th), C Barrett Jones (3rd-5th)