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Filling out the pre-draft Titans roster

In an April 8 radio appearance, Ken Whisenhunt was asked if the Titans needed additional running backs for depth purposes. In response to the question, he noted that he normally went into training camp with eight running backs or fullbacks, sometimes nine. That got me to thinking about where the Titans’ roster stood, compared to past Ken Whisenhunt rosters, and to think seriously about at which positions they would look at add players between the draft, undrafted free agent rookies, and possibly some veteran free agents like the just-signed Brian Robiskie.

To get the baseline approximation for how many players to carry at each position, I looked at the rosters of Whisenhunt’s 2010, 2011, and 2012 Cardinals teams, plus the rosters of the 2013 Chargers team for which Whisenhunt was the offensive coordinator and the 2013 Browns team for which Titans defensive coordinator Ray Horton was the DC. The 2011 and 2012 Cardinals teams Whisenhunt coached and Horton coordinated should give us our best approximations, and I will be relying primarily on those.

Quarterback
Whisenhunt carries: 4
Titans have: 3
Analysis: While I still do not expect the Titans to draft a quarterback (and from what Ruston Webster said, it is not a draft priority), I still do expect them to add one. Pretty much every team normally does.

Backs
Whisenhunt carries: 8-10
Titans have: 6
Analysis: The official roster on the team site now lists Collin Mooney strictly as an RB like Dexter McCluster, instead of as an FB like he was before. For purposes of this exercise, I’m not sure if that makes any difference. Either way, the Titans are in need of multiple of bodies at the position. Since rosters expanded to 90 in 2011, Whisenhunt has carried at least two fullbacks. If that remains the case, at least one of the two or more bodies the Titans will add will be a fullback. I do not expect that player to be a draft pick.

Tight Ends
Whisenhunt carries: 6
Titans have: 5
Analysis: One slot. Will the Titans look for somebody to challenge or add to the existing top three or just another body?

Receivers
Whisenhunt carries: 11
Titans have: 8
Analysis: Or, part of why I’m not worried about the Brian Robiskie signing doing anything about the Titans’ chances of taking a wide receiver. There was a need for bodies at the position. There is still a need for bodies at the position, especially when you look at how many receivers Whisenhunt’s Cardinals teams carried.

Offensive Line
Whisenhunt carries: 13-16
Titans have: 10
Analysis: Next week, I’ll have my chance of the Titans drafting particular positions on both offense and defense. Looking at the offensive line, there’s a clear job opportunity for a fourth tackle and maybe an opportunity for the second backup interior spot. The other spots (and I would guess the Titans go into camp with 15 or so rather than 13) will help the team practice and sustain injuries.

Defensive Line
Whisenhunt/Horton carry: 10-11
Titans have: 10
Analysis: Derrick Morgan and Kamerion Wimbley are both listed at LB/DE on the official roster; I considered both of them linebackers. I counted the players listed at both DE and DL in counting the defensive linemen. I don’t know how this position group is going to shake out, but this exercise suggests drafting one is far from a lock.

Linebackers
Whisenhunt/Horton carry: 13-16
Titans have: 13
Analysis: See above re Morgan and Wimbley being counted here instead of at DL. If you’re thinking I should have lumped the front seven positions together, Whisenhunt and Horton have carried 24-26 DL+LB, while the Titans are at 23. I did not try to distinguish between OLB and ILB in counting previous Whisenhunt/Horton rosters. Given the overall numbers, I’d say the Titans have a lot of flexibility in whether and which to add, as I believe is also the case on the defensive line.

Defensive Backs
Whisenhunt/Horton carry: 15-17
Titans have: 11
Analysis: Unless, and probably even if, the Titans like Tommie Campbell a lot more than everybody else has ended up like him, there’s a need for at least one corner who can make the roster. While they probably have their top three and maybe even their fourth safety, that’s another position where they could make an addition. The other players they will add here will likely just be bodies, though given the new regime, there’s always a chance they could be more.

Special Teamers
Whisenhunt carries: 4
Titans have: 3
Analysis: The Titans will be adding a kicker to compete with Maikon Bonani. We already knew that. I do not believe there is any need to draft this player, especially as the Titans will very likely be about the most desirable landing spot for any UDFA kicker.

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