NASHVILLE, Tenn. – When NFL Network draft analyst Charles Davis thinks about the options for the Titans at No. 19, his head spins with all the possibilities.
“I had Christian Wilkins in my last mock,” Davis said of the Clemson defensive lineman. “I had (Florida State edge rusher) Brian Burns in my first mock. And both of those guys, depending on how the draft falls, would be good fits.”
The problem projecting them to Tennessee at No. 19, Davis notes, is the wide range of opinions.
And the possibility of them not being on the board.
“I’ve seen Wilkins all the way from top 10, all the way to the 20s,” Davis said. “And Burns, the consensus I’ve seen is mid-teens on down. Tight ends have been a popular pick in mocks to Titans as well. I’ve seen (Alabama tight end) Irv Smith going there, (Iowa tight end) Noah Fant there.
“But I like the defensive side of the ball in the first round for the Titans, with all things being equal, depending on how everything falls. And that’s why a Wilkins, a Burns, and even (Mississippi State defensive lineman) Jeffery Simmons attracts my attention for the Titans.
“I know edge rusher is the most popular one for Tennessee because no Brian Orakpo and no Derrick Morgan. But you know how the game is played nowadays in the NFL – that gut pressure is awfully vital, too. And if Jurrell Casey had a tag-team partner to rush the passer with inside, I don’t think he'd be upset with that.”
In the latest mock draft roundup on Titans Online, Burns was the pick in eight of the 40 mock drafts reviewed. Wilkins was next with seven, and then Fant (5) and another Iowa tight end, T.J. Hockenson.
No one had the Titans taking Simmons, but Davis doesn’t hate the idea himself.
Simmons, who racked up 157 tackles, seven sacks, four forced fumbles and six passes defensed in three seasons at Mississippi State, began the offseason as a potential top-10 pick.
But Simmons (6-3, 301) suffered a torn ACL doing a routine drill during a workout in February and had surgery. Add the injury to some off-field concerns, and some teams might be hesitant to pick him early, causing him to slide to Tennessee, a team looking for help on the defensive line.
“Simmons makes sense to me for just about anyone, because I think he is that good,” Davis said. “But the questions: How long will you have to wait? When will he be ready? Can you afford to do so? Each team will have to decide.
“How long he’s (on the board) will depend on what goes ahead of him, and how many of those other (defensive lineman) are already gone. Because your ability to wait on someone goes up if the talent level goes up, and the available talent around him goes down. If we have that expected run on defensive linemen as I would expect, and if Simmons isn’t gobbled up as a part of that group, he may be the best prospect still sitting there.”
Davis, who works as an analyst for Titans preseason games, is intrigued by all the chatter about the Titans possibly taking a tight end.
“I could see it, and the reason why is Delanie (Walker) is coming off an injury. And while Delanie has been in the league a while, you have that uncertainly about him being the same guy as he was before,” Davis said. “I would put my money on him being that guy because I have seen his work ethic and how he takes care of himself. So you can always see that, but you kind of have to hedge your bets a little.
“You can’t have enough of them,” Davis continued. “Can you imagine if Delanie comes back full speed, you draft another tight end that kid gets acclimated quickly? That could change things quickly, and it could help (Marcus) Mariota get to that level we are all expecting and hoping he will be.”
In the second round of the NFL Draft, a pick No. 51, Davis believes the Titans would go offense if they went defense in the first round.
Davis mentioned Penn State guard Connor McGovern and Boston College’s Chris Lindstrom as possibilities, although he noted Lindstrom is getting some first-round mentions.
“And as you get a little deeper, can you ever really go wrong picking Wisconsin offensive linemen?” said Davis, referring to guards Michael Deiter and Beau Benzschawel. “Oklahoma has a pair of guards (Dru Samia and Ben Powers) as you get a little deeper in the draft.”
If the Titans go receiver in the second round, Davis said Arizona State’s N’Keal Harry and South Carolina’s Deebo Samuel are intriguing options, along with Ohio State’s Parris Campbell and Iowa State’s Hakeem Butler.
“There’s going to be a ton of receivers as we get into the second round,” Davis said. “I don’t think wide receiver is as loaded as it has been at the top of the board, but you start getting into the second, third and fourth rounds, you can find a lot of talent and a lot of possibilities there.”