If you are new to football, it might be hard to believe that the Titans had more wins in 2016 (9) than they did in the previous two seasons combined (5). And although Tennessee has shown major progress, they still have a little work to do. With a couple somewhat bold moves, Tennessee will win the AFC South and be in the playoffs for the first time in quite a while. Here are some statistics:
Total Defense 20
Pass Defense 30
Run Defense 2
Despite having a poor pass defense, Tennessee ranked 13th in sacks per passing attempt. With this in mind, the problem is in their secondary.
Total Offense 11
Run Offense 3
Pass Offense 25
The Titans had a strong rushing offense in 2016. The passing offense was ranked 25th in the league. The team is without a solid #1 receiver and Delanie Walker turns 33 this August. Pass catchers are another area to focus on in the off-season.
Team needs: CB, Safety, WR, TE, 3-4 DE
Stephon Gilmore CB, 26, 13 M (5 years)
Tony Jefferson Safety 25, 5.5 M (4 years)
Cap Space after signings: 44.7 Million
By signing Gilmore and Jefferson (both under 26), Tennessee would go from one of the worst secondaries in the NFL to one of the best. This would give them a shutdown corner and a strong safety that is not only young but good in the passing game. Is this crazy in a draft with so many talented corners and safeties? The somewhat complicated answer is, no.
First of all, the Titans are close. By having one of the top secondaries in the game, this would improve their pass defense tremendously. To reiterate my above point, they were in the middle of the pack in sacks per passing attempt, and that ranking would inevitably increase due to coverage sacks. Still not enough? These prices are actually low compared to last year. Why? Economics. There are currently 9 safeties and 14 cornerbacks that could arguably be taken in the first two rounds. With this type of supply, demand (price) goes down. In the end, you pay less for the same quality.
Trade down the Titans #5 pick overall to #11-13 and a mid-second round pick. Trade their #18 down 2 slots to #24 a fourth-round pick. By giving up the second mid-round pick and their current third round pick, they could obtain the #40 pick overall. This would give them the roughly #12 pick overall, the #20 pick overall, and the #40 pick overall.
Round 1 (12) Mike Williams WR Clemson
Round 1 (20) OJ Howard TE Alabama
Round 2 (40) Chris Wormley 3-4 DE Michigan
Drafting Williams and Howard who are arguably the best wide receiver and tight ends in this class would give the Titans an obvious boost in the passing game. Chris Wormley is a very efficient defensive end who has improved a lot over the last season in his pass rush. By selecting these three players the Titans would cover all their areas of need and could either draft players they perceive at extreme values or do the smarter thing and stockpile picks for next year.