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Titanic Voices: Brad Hopkins on Importance of 'The Wall'

Posted Mar 4, 2013

Former Titans offensive lineman Brad Hopkins offers his personal opinions and perspective in "Titanic Voices."

Let's talk about the role of the wall.

The wall protects one from the elements and undesirables. The wall provides the proper amount of time for its coordinators to devise a strategy to succeed. The wall keeps the family's secrets safe and sound under its watchful eye.

But no one notices the wall and its importance until the weather is terrible or there's a threat of intrusion from those who may wish to do harm to the family.

Well, this year's draft should provide the sheetrock and other materials necessary to bring back the stability that has been taken for granted.

Let's glance at a few material options that could provide the structural framework Tennessee needs to have to be a contender.

First, a glance at Chance Warmack from Alabama. He earned All-America and first-team All-SEC honors in helping the Crimson Tide win its second straight national title and third in four seasons. Warmack has dominating strength at the point of attack and enough mobility to clear the way for Chris Johnson.

Warmack blocked for Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram, 2012 top-five draft pick Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy, who has a chance to be another first-round selection in this year’s draft. Warmack delivers a strong punch to defenders and gets good extension of his arms in pass protection. He is strong enough to anchor against bull rushes but maintains his mobility.

North Carolina's Jonathan Cooper is another option. Cooper set a school record by making 47 career starts and in 2012 earned the Jacobs Blocking Trophy, which is awarded to the ACC’s most outstanding blocker. Cooper had surgery on his left shoulder after the 2011 season to relieve chronic inflammation, but earned All-America and first team All-ACC honors in his senior season.

Cooper is tough to beat in pass protection and tough to handle when he’s run blocking. Cooper also wrestled, which is generally an indicator to scouts that a player knows how to use his hands effectively in one-on-one situations.

And last but certainly not least, Dallas Thomas from the University of Tennessee. Thomas started all 37 games in his final three seasons. He moved from left tackle to left guard in 2012 and garnered second-team All-SEC honors.

Thomas is 6-foot-5 but plays with natural bend in his knees and has excellent agility. He has the ability to block down or get to the outside to deter blitzers. Thomas is skilled at getting off the snap quickly in the run game and getting his assignment to the ground.

The 10th pick, in my opinion, will be Cooper. I love Warmack, but I think Cleveland has him in its cross hairs.

Going back in time, some may have questioned the Houston Oilers front office for using two first round picks back to back on offensive linemen (Mike Munchak in 1982 and Bruce Matthews in 1983). Thirty years later, both players are wearing gold Hall of Fame jackets and are coaching the team together.

Somebody got it right then, so let’s repeat history and start hanging some hardware on that sturdy wall!

A first-round draft pick by the Houston Oilers in 1993, Brad Hopkins established himself as one of the NFL’s most dominant offensive linemen from 1993-2005, starting 188 of 194 games with a pair of Pro Bowls. He blocked for franchise rushing leader Eddie George and helped the Titans make it to Super Bowl XXXIV in the 1999 season. You can follow him on Twitter at B_Hop72.

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