Draft ‘experts’ weigh in on Titans' needs

Tuesday, April 22, 2008 at 2:06am

There are only five days left before the NFL Draft, and the mock drafts are out in full force.

For those wanting some idea of what the Tennessee Titans might select with the 24th pick in this year’s draft, the mocks hold an interesting, if not always accurate, perspective in trying to match perceived team needs with availability.

The City Paper scoured 12 different online mock drafts from the heralded like Mel Kiper of ESPN.com and Mike Mayock of NFL Network to the obscure like draftace.com and draftking.com. (We could not find any mock drafts done by draftqueen or draftjack.)

Of course, picking so low (their lowest position since 2004), the Titans won’t really know what’s available until 23 other picks have been made, so the projection of who they will take will obviously be skewed by potential reaches or trades in the first round.

The most interesting part of the dozen mock drafts reviewed was that eight of the 12 selected a wide receiver for the Titans, at least matching what is perceived to be the team’s top need in the draft.

Of those seven who selected a receiver for Tennessee, three — NFLdraftcountdown.com, footballsfuture.com and draftking.com — had them taking Vince Young’s former University of Texas teammate Limas Sweed. If that happens, it would mark the third straight season the Titans would have spent a No. 1 pick on a Longhorns player, having taken Young in 2005 and Michael Griffin last year.

Three others, including Kiper, had the Titans selecting Indiana receiver James Hardy, who has first-round talent, but might still be available in the second round because of off-field baggage, something the Titans are almost certain to shy away from in light of the whole Adam “Pacman” Jones saga over the past three years.

Mike Mayock of the NFL Network had the Titans landing Michigan State’s Devin Thomas, who like Sweed, has visited Baptist Sports Park. Perhaps most interesting in Mayock’s picks was that Thomas was the first receiver off his board at No. 24.

The seventh of the 12 to select a receiver first for the Titans was football.about.com, which matched Tennessee with Oklahoma receiver Malcolm Kelly, apparently ignoring his slow 4.68 time in the 40 and a questionable attitude as well. Of course, this site did not even list running back as one of the team’s needs, even though the team has just two on the roster currently.

Those drafts that did not tab a receiver first for Tennessee opted for defense. Surprisingly, thefootballexpert.com had the Titans selecting Tennessee Vols linebacker Jerod Mayo. Apparently the self-proclaimed “football expert” isn’t enough of an expert to know that linebacker is one of the Titans’ non-need areas, except in terms of backups and special teams help.

Two sites, draftace.com and fftoolbox.com, at least went for a need area on the defensive side of the ball and placed North Carolina defensive tackle Kentwan Balmer as the Titans’ pick at No. 24.

NFLdraftblitz.com had the Titans grabbing Miami safety Kenny Phillips. But that mock was either old, out of touch, or both, as it had the quarterback-overloaded Tampa Bay Buccaneers selecting Kentucky’s Andre Woodson with the 20th overall pick.

What the experts say

Mel Kiper — James Hardy, WR, Tennessee

Mike Mayock — Devin Thomas, WR, Michigan State

NFLdraftcountdown.com — Limas Sweed, WR, Texas

thefootballexpert.com — Jerod Mayo, LB, Tennessee

fftoolbox.com — Kentwan Balmer, DT, North Carolina

football.about.com — Malcolm Kelly, WR, Oklahoma

footballsfuture.com — Limas Sweed, WR, Texas

drafttek.com — James Hardy, WR, Indiana

draftking.com — Limas Sweed, WR, Texas

draftace.com — Kentwan Balmer, DT, North Carolina

fantasyfootballjungle.com — James Hardy, WR, Indiana

NFLdraftblitz.com — Kenny Phillips, S, Miami

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By: randledwards2003 on 12/31/69 at 7:00

we need to take the best athlete available. WE need a L Tackle or a D Tackle. Although the Titans are encapable of Drafting an offensive lineman until the 6th or 7th round.They spent 50 mil on a qb they need to spend some $ protecting their investment. Other than the top 3 WR's the rest are all 2nd round or later. MY pick would be anyone left in the top 5 DT or OL. Go for the Beef and we can make potato salad later.

By: nashbeck on 12/31/69 at 7:00

I like your thoughts on the Dline, because Football games are won "in the trenches". However, Michael Roos and David Stewart are excellent tackles, and Mawae, Jake Scott, and Eugene Amano should be solid as well. I say get Limas Sweed or Jamaal Charles in the 1st (based on best athlete), but I wouldn't mind Limas Sweed, Chris Johnson in 2nd, and Red Bryant in the 3rd to team up with Haynesworth. Imagine teams trying to run against Haynesworth (6'6" 330) and Bryant (6'5" 320)!!!