US Sports Veteran
Publish Date: 04/13/2021
Fact checked by: Mike Goodpaster
Mike Vrabel’s Tennessee Titans authored an improbable run to the AFC Championship Game in 2019, where they lost to the eventual Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs. Both of the coordinators from that Tennessee team are gone, and expectations are rising as Vrabel enters his fourth season as head coach. A disappointing 2021 campaign could spell disaster for the Titans.
Tennessee wasted their first-round pick last year on Georgia’s Isaiah Wilson, who decided to speedrun his career and isn’t even in the NFL right now. The Titans got minimal contributions out of the other members of their 2020 draft class as well. With the Indianapolis Colts acquiring another starting-caliber quarterback and Jacksonville launching a promising rebuild, Tennessee can’t afford another disastrous draft haul.
I used The Draft Network’s mock draft machine and Pro Football Focus’ mock draft simulator to justify each of my selections. At least one website had the chosen players available at their listed picks over several simulations. I didn’t project any trades and included an “ideal pick” after every selection for optimistic fans. You know who I’m talking about; the people that mock their team all of the best players, even at unrealistic picks.
Tennessee’s first pick in the 2021 NFL Draft came down to Samuel Cosmi, Caleb Farley, Moore, and Jaelan Phillips. Greg Newsome was already gone, and Farley fell because of his injury history. The Titans added several pieces to their defensive front this offseason, which disqualifies them from the Phillips race. I could see them taking Cosmi to play right tackle, but Moore’s stock is rising. Rashod Bateman wasn’t available for PFF or TDN at 22.
The Titans lost Corey Davis in free agency but signed Josh Reynolds. That’s not an equal trade, and most analysts expect Vrabel’s team will go after a legitimate second option at receiver. A.J. Brown has the makings of an All-Pro, but he’ll struggle if teams aren’t threatened by any of Tennessee’s other pass catchers.
Moore is only 5-9 and 178 lbs., but he plays well above that weight. The star Ole Miss product ran a 4.35 40-yard dash at his pro day and flashed tremendous twitch on the three-cone. Moore can play outside or in the slot. He’s a fantastic route runner and can turn short plays into home runs with his ability to create after the catch.
Initially, I sent Liam Eichenberg to Tennessee at 53rd overall, but the Notre Dame product measured in with sub-33-inch arms at his pro day. Very few starting tackles survive in the NFL with those kinds of measurements, and Eichenberg doesn’t have the same high ceiling as a guard that Leatherwood does if he fails outside.
Leatherwood showed a surprising amount of explosiveness at Alabama’s pro day, ranking in or above the 90th percentile among tackles in the broad jump, vertical jump, and 40-yard dash. While he needs to add some more functional strength, Leatherwood could usurp Kendall Lamm at right tackle well before the end of the 2021 season.
Stokes was on the board at 53 in the PFF simulator, but TDN’s machine had him go in the first-round. Opinions on Stokes’ value are mixed entering the final weeks before the draft. I viewed him as almost a top-50 prospect on my latest top 100 big board. Unless teams prefer cornerbacks like Tyson Campbell and Kelvin Joseph to Stokes, I don’t see him reaching 53.
Ideal pick: Eric Stokes, CB Georgia
The Titans find themselves in a precarious situation. The team’s defense didn’t live up to expectations last year, and the secondary played a significant role in that shortcoming. However, the unit got even worse this offseason with the cuts of Malcolm Butler and Adoree’ Jackson. Tennessee also lost Desmond King to free agency. Signing Janoris Jenkins didn’t solve Tennessee’s issues in the secondary.
Adebo had excellent ball production during his collegiate career. He amassed eight interceptions and 27 passes defensed between 2018 and 2019. Adebo’s 4.42 speed doesn’t always show up during games. He got beat deep repeatedly in 2019 and struggled to locate the ball with his back turned to the quarterback.
Despite some warts in deep coverage, Adebo possesses high upside. He has the size and strength to succeed in press coverage and challenge receivers at the catch point. Adebo’s hands and timing create plenty of forced incompletions.
Ideal pick: Jevon Holland, S Oregon
Long saw plenty of targets at Boston College, which resulted in 57 receptions for 685 yards and five touchdowns. By the 100th pick in the simulations I ran, Long was the lone remaining mid-round tight end prospect with significant production in multiple seasons. The tight end class is weak again this year, making players with histories of solid production valuable.
Long’s official measurements at Boston College’s pro day have the 22-year-old listed at 6-5, 253 lbs. He’s a natural pass catcher that adjusts well to poor throws. Long is an experienced blocker, but he doesn’t excel in that area yet. More functional strength could improve that area of his game.
While Long ran a 4.63 40-time at his pro day, he isn’t an explosive or twitchy athlete. His play speed doesn’t blow you away either and could turn into a limiting factor.
The thought of watching Notre Dame’s Tommy Tremble operate in Tennessee’s offense is also exciting, but he probably won’t make it to 100.
Ideal pick: Tommy Tremble, TE Notre Dame
Moore isn’t an overly explosive athlete, and he’s only 6-1. However, the Grambling St. guard packs 330 lbs. into that short frame and has 34-inch arms. Moore is an aggressive run blocker with a mean streak. His powerful upper body and length create mismatches with interior defenders. Moore could raise his game to the level of a full-time starter if he smooths out his technique.
Moore’s hand placement and hand activity were both below average at Grambling. His pad level isn’t always desirable, which is disappointing considering his natural leverage advantage.
Ideal pick: Milton Williams, IDL Louisiana Tech
DaQuan Jones joined the Titans as a fourth-round pick in 2014 and served as a consistent contributor along the defensive line until he hit free agency this spring. The 29-year-old spent the past several years playing nose tackle. Daylon Mack and Teair Tart are the only nose tackles on Tennessee’s roster, and they have eight combined career appearances.
Tonga is a space-eater that measured in at 6-3, 320 lbs. at BYU’s pro day. Despite posting 35 bench press reps, Tonga doesn’t show overpowering strength on tape. He doesn’t beat enough double teams to qualify for the same tier of prospects as LSU’s Tyler Shelvin. Tonga has good athleticism and redirection skills for a man his size.
Ideal pick: Kary Vincent Jr., CB LSU
Wildgoose projects as a slot corner in the NFL, but he spent some time outside at Wisconsin. He’s 5-11, 197 lbs. but isn’t an explosive athlete and lacks some of the long speed other Day 3 corners have. The junior didn’t have much ball production either. He only intercepted one pass and defensed 14 during his 24 collegiate appearances.
Wildgoose’s play is too erratic to go any higher than the bottom of the fifth-round. He panics sometimes and grabs and holds receivers instead of trusting his athleticism. Wildgoose doesn’t have great length but can stifle routes at the line of scrimmage in press coverage. There are some high-end plays on his tape that could inspire confidence in development.
I’d keep an eye on Pittsburgh’s Damar Hamlin at this spot.
Ideal pick: Elerson Smith, EDGE Northern Iowa
Vrabel’s defense somewhat mitigated its need for an edge rusher by signing Bud Dupree this offseason. The team also brought in underrated defensive end Denico Autry. However, Dupree is coming off a significant injury, and the Titans learned from Jadeveon Clowney last year that it always pays to have depth on the edge.
Koonce needs to get in an NFL weight room. He’s lackluster at setting the edge, and sometimes his tackle attempts come across as weak. However, he has desirable length and bend for an edge rusher. Koonce doesn’t have a go-to pass rushing move yet, but his athleticism and burst provide a strong foundation to build on.
Ideal pick: Cornell Powell, WR Clemson
If the Titans aren’t getting Powell, they should at least try for Imatorbhebhe. The USC transfer measured in at 6-1, 223 lbs. at Illinois’ pro day and posted an insane 46.5-inch vertical jump. While he never produced elite numbers in college, Imatorbhebhe is a physical, vertical receiver that pummels defenders on contested catches.
Ideal pick: Tony Poljan, TE Virginia