The Titans finished the 2020 season 11-5, losing to the Ravens in the Wild Card Round. Tennessee was 5-0 to start the year, but four of these five wins were one-possession victories. Derrick Henry had his best season to date, surpassing the 2,000 rushing yard milestone – tallying 2,027 yards in the regular season. Henry and the offense were only able to mask Tennessee’s inefficiencies on defense for so long, however. For much of the year, the Titans defense was the worst in the NFL in terms of sacks and getting off the field on third-down. The front office has already begun addressing these issues with the free agent signings of Bud Dupree and Denico Autry. If head coaxh Mike Vrabel can add a few more key pieces through the draft, this team will be right back in the playoff mix.
Some quick draft history — the following are the Titans’ last five years’ worth of first-round draft picks.
2020: Isaiah Wilson (OT)
2019: Jeffery Simmons (DT)
2018: Rashaan Evans (LB)
2017: Corey Davis (WR)
2016: Jack Conklin (T)
Isaiah Wilson turned out to be a bust for the Titans – after playing just three offensive snaps and one snap on special teams, Wilson was recently dealt to Miami for a fresh start. Tackle Jack Conklin was lost to Cleveland in free agency last year and Tennessee declined to pick up WR Corey Davis’ fifth-year option.
The following players have already been cut or traded, due to their 2021 cap hit:
Malcom Butler – CB
Kenny Vaccaro – SS
Chris Milton – CB
Adam Humphries – WR
Breon Borders – CB
Adoree Jackson – CB
The Titans are $15.85 million under the cap for the 2021 season, not including cuts listed above.
Losing Davis and TE Jonnu Smith in free agency leaves the Titans’ front office with some work to do in terms of offensive weapons. But if QB Ryan Tannehill keeps playing at a high level, and Tennessee focuses most of its offseason efforts around revamping the defense, there is no reason to believe they won’t be legitimate contenders in 2021.
Here are some players the Titans may target with the 22nd overall pick in this year’s draft:
Possibility #1: LSU WR Terrace Marshall
2020 stats: 7 games, 48 receptions, 737 yards, 10 TDs
Why: The Titans declined Corey Davis’ fifth-year option, and released wide receiver Adam Humphries. Smith, who accounted for the third-most receiving yards behind A.J. Brown and Davis, signed with New England earlier this week. Outside of Brown, Tennessee is going to be lacking firepower in terms of receiving weapons.
Terrace Marshall is a lengthy receiver, listed at 6-3, 200 pounds. With his current build, it looks like Marshall still has some room to grow into his body as well. He has the ability to line up in the slot and on the outside — possessing incredible speed for a player his size. While he may be a little raw mechanically, Marshall has shown an effortless ability to run with the ball after the catch. His intangibles and upside make him a prospect that Tennessee should keep an eye on.
Possibility #2: Alabama IDL Christian Barmore
2020 stats: 12 games, 37 tackles, 9.5 TFLs, 8 sacks, 3 PDs, 3 FFs
Why: Before a few additions in free agency, Jeffery Simmons was the only player along the line that would cause any true problems for opposing offensive fronts. Nose tackle DaQuan Jones is a free agent, and could depart before the 2021 season. Even if Jones doesn’t leave, Tennessee needs to add a player who can generate constant pressure from the interior. Adding depth in the draft would be the cheaper, wiser option for the Titans.
Barmore is a freak athlete for a player his size. He is listed at 6-5, 310 pounds. With only 12 starts under his belt at Alabama, Barmore is a raw prospect. But his physical gifts and natural athletic ability shouldn’t be overlooked. In 12 games this season, Barmore was able to generate pressure along the interior with 8 sacks. He wins with pure strength and will need to develop better technique at the pro level. Barmore would not only have an impact on Tennessee’s run defense, but he would be able to influence the pass game as well.
Possibility #3: South Carolina CB Jaycee Horn
2020 stats: 7 games, 16 tackles, 1 TFL, 2 INTs, 6 PDs
Why: Tennessee finished the 2020 season 24th in passing defense. Their top cornerback Malcom Butler was recently cut in order to clear some cap space. Tennessee also cut Adoree Jackson, then signed veteran Janoris Jenkins. With Jenkins and second-year player Kristian Fulton leading the cornerback room in 2021, the Titans should be looking to add depth to the position.
Insert Jaycee Horn. Horn is a highly instinctive player at 6-1, 205 pounds. Aggressiveness is a huge part of his game — this paired with fluidity and physicality makes him sticky in man coverage. He has the ability to matchup against tight ends and taller wide receivers because of his toughness and length. Horn has great upside, size and instincts, all traits that should be appealing to the Titans.
Possibility #4: Amon-Ra St. Brown
2020 stats: 6 games, 41 receptions, 478 yards, 7 TDs
Why: As previously mentioned, the Titans’ wide receiver room will look a lot different than it did in 2020. With the departure of Davis, they will need to invest in a wide receiver that will work well in the slot. Doing so in the draft, would be much more cost effective than trying to out-bid teams in the free agent market with not a huge pool of resources to spend.
Amon-Ra St. Browncould be a player that climbs draft boards as April 29 draws closer. St. Brown has a knack for getting open and it’s very difficult to contain him off of the line of scrimmage. He does a lot of the little things, similar to the role that Davis played previously for the Titans, which makes him the type of player that you want on your team. St. Brown has shown the ability to come down with the ball in contested catch situations, despite only being listed at 6-1. He is currently listed at 195 pounds, but still has room on his frame to add weight.
SEE ALSO: On the Clock archive