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2014 NFL Draft primer: Tennessee Titans

Former UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr runs the 40-yard

Former UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr runs the 40-yard dash during the 2014 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 24, 2014 in Indianapolis. Credit: Getty Images / Joe Robbins

The 2014 NFL Draft starts on Thursday, May 8, and every team will look to infuse youth and talent into their rosters. This is the latest in our NFL Draft two-a-days that looks at each team and which potential first-round picks would be a good fit.


2013 record: 7-9

Key offseason acquisitions: WR Dexter McCluster, OT Michael Oher, OLB Shaun Phillips, MLB Wesley Woodyard, DT Al Woods, QB Charlie Whitehurst, head coach Ken Whisenhunt.

Key offseason departures: CB Alterraun Verner, RB Chris Johnson, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, OT David Stewart, WR Kenny Britt.

Biggest holes: Linebacker, running back, tackle.

The Titans aren't quite in a "rebuilding" stage, but they have work to do if they want to return to prominence in the AFC South.

The Titans brought in a new head coach in Ken Whisenhunt, and with that comes personnel and scheme changes. A good draft will help alleviate some growing pains.

The biggest change will be on defense. The Titans will adopt a more aggressive 3-4 defense under new coordinator Ray Horton. They currently have Akeem Ayers, Shaun Phillips, Derrick Morgan and Kamerion Wimbley as pass-rushing outside linebackers. But Ayers (one sack) and Wimbley (three sacks) are coming off down seasons, and Morgan (129 tackles, 16 1/2 sacks in four seasons) hasn't quite been what many expected as the 16th overall pick in 2010.

UCLA outside linebacker Anthony Barr could be the pick if the Titans want an impact on the edge. Barr, a converted running back, has phenomenal speed (4.66 40) and size (6-5, 255 pounds) for an edge rusher. He usually relies on his physical traits alone to get into the backfield and deliver big hits.

Barr's the furthest thing from a finished product, though. His technique, move-set and hand use need work before he can become one of the league's top linebackers. Luckily, he wouldn't have to be rushed into a starting role in Tennessee thanks to all of the OLB candidates currently on the roster. Barr could work closer with linebackers coach Lou Spanos - who, coincidentally, was UCLA's defensive coordinator for Barr's two seasons on defense.

If a QB falls to the Titans at 11, would they consider taking him? It depends on how attached they are to Jake Locker, who has battled injuries and inconsistency since being drafted eighth overall in 2011. With the top tier of quarterbacks reportedly sliding down draft boards, it's possible that the Titans could take UCF's Blake Bortles, Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater or Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel as Locker's replacement. Keep in mind, though, that this would only be a possibility if one slides to 11 - it's unlikely the Titans actively try to trade up for a passer, since they still have other needs that have to be addressed.

Of course, there are other ways to improve QB play without drafting a new signal-caller. Adding weapons is one of them. That's where North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron could come into play. Ebron is 6-4 and runs a 4.60 40, making him incredibly tough to cover anywhere on the field. He'll occasionally drop passes, but he has the physical tools to be an immediate impact.

Improving the offensive line would be another way to help Locker. The Titans signed ex-Ravens lineman Michael Oher to play right tackle, but could use insurance in the event Oher struggles or they decide to get rid of Michael Roos next offseason.

Michigan's Taylor Lewan would be the pick if that's the case. Lewan has made his name at left tackle, but he has the size and athleticism for the right side of the line as well. He plays with a mean streak and is very tough, yet uses his superb athleticism to handle speed rushers in the passing game and stronger defenders in the running game. However, Lewan comes with some off-field issues.

With Chris Johnson gone, Shonn Greene (3,718 rushing yards in five seasons) becomes the top running back. After him? Fellow ex-Jet Leon Washington, who has 2,214 career rushing yards in eight seasons.

There are no running backs worth taking in the first round, let alone at 11th overall, so the Titans would have to look to the middle rounds to replace CJ2K. One possibility in the second round would be Ohio State's Carlos Hyde. Hyde is a bruiser who hits gaps hard and keeps his feet moving upon contact. They could also look at Tre Mason, the Auburn running back whose compact size (5-9, 207 pounds), vision and elusiveness draw comparisons to Ravens running back Ray Rice. There's Washington running back Bishop Sankey, a very balanced runner who has some tread on his tires, and there's West Virginia tailback Charles Sims, whose receiving skills out of the backfield are second to none in this class.

Other possible Day 2 and Day 3 picks include Tennessee OTs JaWuan James and Antonio Richardson, Miami OT Seantrel Henderson, Georgia Tech OLB Jeremiah Attaochu and Boise State DE/OLB Demarcus Lawrence.

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