Even after the team’s splashy free-agent signing of Bud Dupree, any Tennessee Titans mock draft likely features a pass-rusher joining the roster in the first or second rounds, especially considering Dupree is coming off a torn ACL.
Titans fans have to be eager for general manager Jon Robinson to get another crack at the plate. Last year’s first-rounder, offensive tackle Isaiah Wilson, has already burned through two teams and is seeing his career spin out of control. It won’t be hard for Tennessee to do better in the 2021 NFL Draft.
How much can the Titans help out quarterback Ryan Tannehill and reigning rushing champion Derrick Henry? Well, as it turns out, there’s more work to be done on the other side of the ball, so that’s where most of the team’s focus should be in the draft, despite the real possibility that the offense takes a step back without Arthur Smith as offensive coordinator.
Let’s see how the reigning AFC South champions can do their utmost to defend their division crown with a strong rookie class in this seven-round mock draft, courtesy of The Draft Network’s simulator.
Tennessee Titans mock draft: Defense lands 3 potential starters
- First round, 22nd pick: Azeez Ojulari, EDGE, Georgia
- Second round, 53rd pick: Elijah Molden, DB, Washington
- Third round, 85th pick: Hunter Long, TE, Boston College
- Third round, 100th pick: Ar’Darius Washington, S, TCU
Even with the medical red flags surrounding Miami’s Jaelan Phillips, his upside is so significant, and his skill set is so scheme-transcendent, that he seems likely to be the first pass-rusher off the board. If the history of concussions does scare some teams off, maybe Tennessee hits a home run and gets Phillips anyway.
But in any event, Azeez Ojulari merits strong consideration from the Titans, and given his ideal build for a 3-4 base front, he may even get the nod from Tennessee’s front office even if Phillips is available. Ojulari is my personal favorite pass-rusher in the 2021 class, and pairing him opposite Dupree would almost certainly be a big hit in Nashville.
Washington’s Elijah Molden is experienced as a safety and predominantly slot corner, both of which the Titans secondary needs. He’d probably be featured early as a nickel.
Courtesy of a compensatory third-round pick, TCU’s Ar’Darius Washington joins the fold as well. Washington gets overlooked because he’s undersized and played alongside Trevon Moehrig, yet he’s a tone-setter who can lay the lumber despite his slight frame and brings necessary physicality on the back end. He could easily start right away at strong safety.
As for the addition of Boston College tight end Hunter Long, he’s a steady, reliable pass-catcher and a better athlete than he’s given credit for. Long would help replace departed free agent Jonnu Smith, and isn’t the best prospect at the position, but a third-round run on tight ends led to Long being the pick.
Tennessee Titans mock draft: Day 3 picks add strong depth
- Fourth round, 126th pick: Tre Brown, CB, Oklahoma
- Fifth round, 166th pick: Anthony Schwartz, WR, Auburn
- Sixth round, 205th pick: Thomas Graham Jr., CB, Oregon
- Sixth round, 215th pick: Damar Hamlin, S, Pittsburgh
- Sixth round, 217th pick (via Tampa Bay): Jonathan Adams Jr., WR, Arkansas State
Acknowledging the possibility that 2020 second-round pick Kristian Fulton pops in Year 2, it still wouldn’t hurt for Tennessee to beef up its cornerback depth chart with some hard-nosed players. Oklahoma’s Tre Brown fits that description. He’s undersized but plays much bigger than his frame would suggest, and was constantly on an island against relentless passing attacks in the Big 12. He plays with physicality and no fear. Titans head coach Mike Vrabel would love him.
Pitt safety Damar Hamlin is more of a thumper versus the run and figures to be a phenomenal special teams ace out of the gates. Oregon corner Thomas Graham Jr. opted out of the 2020 campaign but started three years for the Ducks, logging 183 total tackles, eight interceptions and 32 passes defensed. That production is hard to pass up so late in Day 3.
Now for the receiving corps additions. After losing Corey Davis to the New York Jets, Tennessee goes with pure speed in Auburn track star Anthony Schwartz, who’d be excellent on shot plays in the play-action passing game, which is where Tannehill is at his best.
In a mock trade, the Titans sent the 232nd pick and a 2022 sixth-rounder to Tampa Bay for the 217th pick in order to nab Jonathan Adams Jr. from Arkansas State. Sounds like a trivial move, yet Adams is a 6-foot-3, 220-pound attacker of the football on downfield throws.
Both Schwartz and Adams have the physical tools to challenge for playing time right away. The way this mock simulation fell, the need for another high-end edge defender and the lack of available options in Round 2 led to Tennessee shying away from the right tackle spot, which is a clear need. It’ll be interesting to see if a trade not featured here happens in order for the Titans to address that spot.