With just one week to go before the 2019 NFL Draft, nobody seems to have any clue what Tennessee will do with the 19th overall pick. Almost every position of need has been projected to the Titans in the first round. Some have the Titans grabbing one of the top pass-rushers in the draft if they slip to their selection. Others predict Tennessee to go after a pass-catcher or another protector for quarterback Marcus Mariota early. It’s so hard to project the Titans’ pick because of how solid their roster is. There aren’t a lot of obvious holes on the team that need to be addressed. Therefore, Tennessee can address their situation and find the best player available who can improve the weaker positions on the roster.
Tennessee most likely will be looking to address its pass-rush on the inside and outside, the interior offensive line, and find another offensive weapon. Most of the Titans’ strategy will depend on who is available when they select. It may be tough to predict, but here is how I see the team addressing the roster next week.
Round 1, Pick 19: EDGE Brian Burns, Florida State
The Titans are in need of a pass-rusher after the losses of Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan in the offseason. Last year’s second-round pick, Harold Landry, should be a solid starter on one side for the Titans. However, there doesn’t seem to be anyone who can book-end the defensive line for Tennessee. Free agent addition Cameron Wake will be more of a situational pass-rusher at 37 years old. Then, Kamalei Correa and Sharif Finch can be good rotational pieces, but aren’t NFL starting caliber players.
The good news for Tennessee is that this draft is loaded with talented at the EDGE position. Most of the top players in the class will be gone by the time Tennessee selects, but Burns could fall to 19. He would be a fantastic selection who could make an immediate impact with his elite size and speed. Burns and Landry would turn a mediocre pass rush to one of the more talented tandems in the league. If top EDGE talent is all gone at 19, I expect general manager Jon Robinson to trade back and pick up some picks on day two. However, if Burns is there at the 19th selection, he should be able to stay in Nashville after draft night.
Round 2, Pick 51: WR J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, Stanford
In the first edition of this piece, I had Arcega-Whiteside going to the Titans in the third-round. However, his stock has improved after impressive workouts and his pro day. The Titans are in desperate need of a red-zone threat who can catch 50-50 balls for quarterback Marcus Mariota. The team already added a slot receiver who can help over the middle in Adam Humphries. Now, the offense needs someone who can make plays on the outside. Arcega-Whiteside has the size and length to make plays over taller cornerbacks.
Robinson likes to draft players who produce in college. Arcega-Whiteside led the PAC-12 in receiving touchdowns last year with 14. In comparison, Mariota threw only 13 touchdowns all of last year. After addressing defense in the first round, expect Tennessee to look for an offensive upgrade in the second. That could be a weapon like Arcega-Whiteside or someone to protect Mariota along the line.
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Round 3, Pick 82: C/G Conner McGovern, Penn State
After cutting Josh Kline during free agency, the Titans find themselves with a hole along the offensive line. Rodger Saffold was added to fill the left guard spot left by Quinton Spain, but now right guard is just about wide open. This position very well could be addressed earlier in the draft, but definitely will be filled in the first two days. McGovern will be a fit along the line because of his versatility. He played both right guard and center during his time at Penn State. This is important because the Titans may feel that center Ben Jones is a better fit at the guard position. McGovern could play either position and solidify the front protecting Mariota.
The interior offensive line is probably the second-most pressing need on the roster behind pass-rusher. Saffold’s addition makes the left side of the line elite, but the right side is much weaker. McGovern’s addition, whether at center or right guard, would immediately improve a Titans’ interior offensive line that struggled for the majority of last year.
Round 4, Pick 121: DT Renell Wren, Arizona State
With all three of the Titans’ most pressing needs filled entering day three, Robinson can begin to go with the best player available. However, a position that needs help is defensive tackle. Jurrell Casey is fantastic as a three-technique defensive end, but the rest of the line is weak. Daquan Jones was just extended last year, and although he is a quality NFL starter, he isn’t a difference-maker. Finally, the nose tackle position. This position has been a revolving door of free agents and draft picks for years, with no one really filling the hole. Currently, former second-round pick Austin Johnson would be starting there.
Wren is over 300 pounds and ran a 5.01 40-yard dash at the combine. He is an athlete who could challenge Johnson for that starting nose tackle spot and develop into a starter in the middle of the Titans’ defensive front. This isn’t exactly a need, but a want for Robinson and the Titans. Another solid defensive lineman along with the first three picks could put the Titans over the top entering 2019.