This year's NFL Draft feels different from past ones. In part, a little shine has been taken off the league's April 28 dog-and-pony show because of the ongoing lockout. Until it's resolved, fans must operate under the assumption there will be no football. (There will be, by the way, because everyone stands to make too much money to let it go.)
For fans of the Titans, the selection special feels out of sorts without Jeff Fisher's Mustache calling the shots in the war room. For the first time since the team moved east of the Mississippi, this will be a Fisherless affair, with new head coach Mike Munchak taking the reins from his former boss.
Not to mention the Titans also have some serious holes to fill.
Obviously, there's the quarterback situation. The three signal-callers on the roster right now include: Vince Young, who team officials have unequivocally said is not returning; Kerry Collins, whose contract is technically up for renewal and whose age is technically 38; and Rusty Smith, who didn't look like the future of the franchise in his lone start of the 2010 season, a 20-0 drubbing by the Houston Texans.
General manager Mike Reinfeldt has said the goal is to pick up a veteran in a trade — someone like Denver's Kyle Orton or Philadelphia's Kevin Kolb — and then look for a long-term franchise quarterback in the draft. The lockout, which prevents teams from trading players, makes the first half of that equation considerably more complicated at the moment.
Then there are the wide receivers. Last year's first-rounder, Kenny Britt, emerged as a top-flight pass-catcher last season, but he continues to make some curious off-the-field choices. On April 12, he was charged in his hometown of Bayonne, N.J., with eluding a police officer, lying to an officer, hindering apprehension, and obstructing governmental function. One of his passengers was charged with marijuana possession and other things. In little more than a year, Britt has had four run-ins with the police, most of which involve stupid decisions behind the wheel of a car.
Kenny: Get a driver. Barring that, don't drive like a dumbass when your buddy is carrying a sack.
The Titans can't release Britt, and the NFL can't suspend him under the league's personal conduct policy, again because of the lockout. What the Titans do in the draft could indicate what Britt's future in Nashville might be.
The Titans go on the clock with their first-round pick early at No. 8 next Thursday. The conventional wisdom is that the two top-level quarterbacks — Auburn's Cam Newton and Missouri's Blaine Gabbert — will both be gone by then. So, too, will Alabama's Julio Jones and Georgia's A.J. Green, the best receivers on the board.
But the Titans also want to shore up the defensive line, which might be the most pressing need. To that end, word on the street is that the Titans will take Newton's college teammate Nick Fairley, a defensive lineman, with their first-round selection.
If Britt has Nashvillians thinking Pac-Man Jones, Fairley might make them think Albert Haynesworth. Like Haynesworth, Fairley is a game-changing man on the front line — tough, run-stopping and huge at 6-foot-4, 291 pounds. He's also quick, with his footwork drawing comparisons to Warren Sapp. And Sapp almost won Dancing With the Stars, the highest-rated and most respected test of "celebrity" footwork on network TV.
But there are some "maturity issues." Fairley took an awful lot of 15-yard penalties at Auburn. Part of that is related to the fact that he plays with a tremendous intensity. Part of it is related to the fact he's in his early 20s. But it's a concern, just as it was with Haynesworth, whose problems reared their ugly head — and cleats — on a number of occasions.
Because of this, some scouts have Fairley slipping from a surefire top-10 to somewhere in the middle of the first round. If the Titans are enamored of him — his position coach at Auburn now coaches the D-line here — they could, theoretically, trade down and acquire a bonus pick in a later round. Even if they miss on Fairley, defensive tackle is deep this year, so a trade down could get the Titans North Carolina's Marvin Austin, who grades just a tick lower than Fairley.
Taking a defensive lineman — no matter where in the draft they do it — opens up the Titans to take a quarterback in the second round, which isn't a bad call in this draft. After Newton and Gabbert, there's a batch of guys in the second tier who are roughly identical and come cheaper. The Titans seem to especially like TCU's Andy Dalton or Christian Ponder from Florida State. There's another fast, athletic guy on the board in Nevada's Colin Kaepernick, who would certainly win the contest for best name.
That leaves the question of what to do with this theoretical extra draft pick. Do the Titans take a flyer on a late-round receiver and hope it pays off? Maybe.
But the best play might be to draft someone with a spotless driving record — to cart Kenny Britt around.
WOW, xray/zoombah/gastthedead/vladthevulgarnakedmonkey, looks like AnglRdr served you a sh*t supper.
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