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Jamal Adams, Malik Hooker can't be discounted as Titans' draft options

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- It makes sense for the Tennessee Titans to be loaded at running back with DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry.

It makes sense for them to find a second good tight end to go with Delanie Walker after the free-agent departure of Anthony Fasano to Miami.

But would it make sense for them to draft safety Jamal Adams or Malik Hooker high in the first round?

The Titans rotated a group of four safeties when they were healthy last season -- Rashad Johnson, Kevin Byard, Da’Norris Searcy and Daimion Stafford. The play-time distribution over 16 games was quite even.

Things were a bit different over the last six games, when Byard, the third-round rookie, became the starting free safety. From Week 10 on, Byard played the most, 52.3 snaps a game, as compared to Stafford (42.2), Searcy (40.5) and Johnson (39.4).

Now Johnson and Stafford are free agents, and Searcy will move down the depth chart with the addition of free agent Johnathan Cyprien. (Searcy could potentially be cut based on scheduled big base salaries of $5.625 million in 2017 and $6.125 million in 2018.)

Coach Mike Mularkey recently said he expects a safety rotation to continue to be part of the Titans’ defense in 2017.

"I think it was good the way we did things last year," Mularkey said. "That’s how we felt about our depth at safety. I think we still have a deep position there. So, I see it continuing that way."

It would be unwise to dismiss the notion of Adams or Hooker if the Titans stick at No. 5 and make a pick.

They need to draft a player who can be a star, not reach to fill their biggest needs -- receiver, cornerback, tight end and inside linebacker.

Adams was a great college player at LSU and has all the types of qualities the Titans seek as they build a tough team composed of guys who love football and are dependable.

Hooker, from Ohio State, has some durability questions, but is also an intriguing process.

Jon Robinson was willing to spend three second-round picks in 2016 on players who were not immediate starters -- Clemson linebacker Kevin Dodd, Penn State defensive lineman Austin Johnson and Alabama running back Henry.

But his first-round pick, right tackle Jack Conklin, was a Day 1 starter who became a rookie first-team All-Pro.

I don’t love the idea of a No. 5 pick being less than a full-time player -- and Byard and Cyprien aren’t going anywhere.

But with the Henry pick, just 51 days after he traded for Murray, Robinson has shown us not to cross positions off the list of potential picks.

If the Titans take Adams or Hooker, the question about safety deployment immediately becomes one of the biggest.