NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- It’s a root problem for the Tennessee Titans, and one of the reasons they have bottomed out.
Their list of needs heading into the 2015 draft includes several positions where they have recently spent significant resources.
They need a right tackle: Even though they paid Michael Oher $6 million last year. At least they structured what was, on its face, a four-year, $20 million deal in a way they could get out of after one year with no further cost. But they Titans have used two first-rounders and a fourth rounder on offensive linemen in the past two years. They also handed out a six-year, $46.8 million contract to guard Andy Levitre in 2013. Yet the one remaining spot on the line, where they missed on Oher, might rate as the biggest need. Spend those picks and that money, you should be able to find one piece of the starting line with a reasonably priced free agent or a mid-round draft pick.
They need a running back: The Titans were the first team to draft a running back in 2014 (Bishop Sankey) and they gave a three-year, $10 million free-agent deal to Shonn Greene in 2013. Greene could be cut before the season starts with Antonio Andrews in line to take away the big-back job. Teammates have said Sankey has been busting it since the season ended. He needs to make a significant jump. The Titans could draft another running back, but I’d expect him to come in the middle rounds, not early. That could change if they get a good deal for No. 2 and have more ammunition.
They need a receiver: The Titans drafted Kendall Wright in the first round in 2012 and traded up to draft Justin Hunter in the second round in 2013. They let their slowing, elder statesman Nate Washington move on and signed veteran Harry Douglas. But With Hunter such a big uncertainty, they need at least one more guy, and they need him to be a threat who scares defenses. While spending a couple high picks and signing a free agent are nice, to have a complete group they also needed to find someone who could develop. Kris Durham wasn’t that guy, as they didn’t give him a tender to stick around for his fourth NFL season. Maybe Jacoby Ford, Clyde Gates or Rico Richardson emerge. But given the team’s long-term history of failing to develop receivers, there is no reason to expect it. They needed to find and develop that guy while they were getting Wright and Hunter in place.
The Titans have too much need at positions where they have already spent significant resources.
They need Wright to get back to his pre-Whisenhunt production. They need Hunter and Sankey to figure things out and play significantly better. They need to find a right tackle.
And going forward, they need to find solutions when they address positions, so they can move on to other areas.