Wednesday, April 25, 2007

State of the Titans, Pre-Draft: Offense

This is the first of a two-part series looking at the Titans' current roster as it stands before the draft. I'll be giving my opinions on the current players, and a look at what I might expect to see in the draft. For the Titans, this is a particularly interesting year at the draft, as they have a new General Manager for the first time in over a decade. When Floyd Reese was the GM, he was clearly the man in charge and had final say subject only to owner Bud Adams. With it being Mike Reinfeldt's first year as the GM, and joining the Titans after the end of the season when preparations for the draft were already well under way, it seems likely Head Coach Jeff Fisher and his staff will have more input than has normally been the case.

QBs: Vince Young, Kerry Collins, Kent Smith, David Koral
VY is The Man, and the face of the franchise. Collins should be a decent backup. The team will find a third QB, and whether it's Smith, Koral, or someone not currently on the roster shouldn't matter very much. The team is set at this position.

RBs: LenDale White, Quinton Ganther, Dontrell Moore, Ahmard Hall (FB)
Hall was a pleasant surprise as an undrafted free agent last season, and did plenty to earn himself another year as the FB. With both Travis Henry (Denver) and Chris Brown (no team) leaving the team, this is the thinnest position on the team. White wasn't very productive last year, showed no stamina, and the reported weight issues give cause for even greater concern. The Titans are reportedly in talks with the Chargers to obtain Michael Turner, and he would go a long way toward filling the whole. If the Titans aren't able to get a deal done with the Chargers, I'd like to see them draft a running back with speed and the ability to catch the ball in the 3rd or 4th round.
DRAFT EXPECTATION: One RB drafted in the first four rounds, or traded for using picks in that range.

WRs: David Givens, Brandon Jones, Roydell Williams, Courtney Roby, Jonathan Orr, Justin Gage, Clinton Solomon
Drew Bennett and Bobby Wade out, Justin Gage in. Yes, that sounds like a net negative to me, too. The cupboard isn't quite as bare as it was two years ago, when Bennett and Tyrone Calico were the only returning WRs, but not is it well-stocked. Between Bennett and Wade, the Titans lost a real split end and a flanker, so they could go in either direction with the pick. I expect them to pick a WR in the first three rounds. Many Titans fans would like to see a WR in the first round, particularly Robert Meachem of Tennessee. For reasons expressed in more detail here, I believe the Titans' needs are great enough, and WR depth present enough that the Titans should wait until the second round to address the wideout position. This is a need that might be better filled with a trade, given the learning curve of rookie WRs, but there are no rumors of any good WRs available for draft picks.
DRAFT EXPECTATION: At least one in the first 3 rounds.

OL: Kevin Mawae (C), Eugene Amano (C), Justin Geisinger (C/G), Benji Olson (G), Jacob Bell (G/T), Issac Snell (G), Michael Roos (T), David Stewart (T), Daniel Loper (T), Seth Wand (T)
For a change, all five of the Titans' starters for most of the year return. From L to R, that's Roos, Bell, Mawae, Olson, and Stewart. Compared to what was there in the recent past, that's not a bad grouping. There are two issues. First, Kevin Mawae is 36 years old. He was signed to a 4 year deal, so he's under contract through the 2009 season, but I don't expect him to start in 2009, and perhaps not 2008. If the Titans braintrust doesn't feel their next starting center is on the roster already, they may spend a late round pick on a center and let him develop for a year or two. Olson is another player on the older side of things, and I'd expect 2007 to be his last year with the Titans. This means the team needs to draft a replacement if they don't already have one. Daniel Loper may be judged able to fill that spot, but that would reduce the depth at tackle. Either way, there's use for another body on the O-line, and perhaps two.
DRAFT EXPECTATION: One pick on the second day, with the possibility of an earlier pick if the value is there.

Expect the defensive preview tomorrow (Thursday) night.

UPDATE (4/26, 2121 CT): I swear, sometimes I'm really silly. I realized on my way to work this morning I forgot tight ends. So, here they are:

TE: Bo Scaife, Ben Troupe, Ben Hartsock, Casey Cramer, Cooper Wallace
The Titans were less heavily TE-oriented in 2006 than they were in 2005. Erron Kinney missed the entire year, and that was a big loss, in terms of both blocking and Hartsock, acquired on waivers from the Colts and re-signed at the end of the year, Cramer, and Wallace were part of the cast to replace Kinney, and eventually also Troupe after he missed the rest of the time after he was injured in the Eagles game, and Scaife missed time too. Overall, the Titans have fairly good depth at the TE position, but no standout players. It's a position where a high pick could be very useful, but a low pick isn't likely to make much impact.
DRAFT EXPECTATION: The Titans have enough other needs I don't expect them to pick a tight end. But it wouldn't shock me to see them take one if they found the value there.

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