The Tennessee Titans made two defensive additions in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft, selecting LB Monty Rice and CB Elijah Molden.
They took Rice, a product of Georgia, with the 92nd pick, which they acquired in a trade-down with the Packers that also netted the Titans an extra fourth-round pick.
Rice is an inside linebacker with impressive speed; he ran a 4.57-second forty-yard dash at his Pro Day. He’s also a heavy hitter
On the bright side: the #Titans‘ primary pass-coverage strategy in 2020 was praying that receivers would drop the pass (cc: @jlomas72), and that’s going to be gone this season with all the additions to the secondary + pass rush.
— Luke Worsham (@luke_worsham) May 1, 2021
Molden was the Titans’ final pick of day three. They chose him with pick No. 100.
Though he played safety in base defense for Washington, Molden was primarily a slot cornerback for the Huskies.
He produced at a very high level in college; as a junior in 2019, Molden intercepted four passes and recorded a whopping 17 pass deflections.
Picking two defensive players in round three meant that the Titans, again, punted on finding a wide receiver to fill their massive need at the position.
However, they didn’t really have a ton of options available to them in round three.
The Washington Football Team selected Dyami Brown, the best receiver left on the board after the second round, just a few picks before the Titans were scheduled to make pick No. 85.
When the Titans got on the clock for the 85th pick, they elected to trade down with Green Bay, ultimately taking Rice at pick No. 92 and doubling down on defense by taking Molden eight picks later.
While the Titans definitely still need to upgrade their problematic receiving corps, it would be foolish to ignore the massive upgrades the team has made to a defense that was putrid in 2020.
So far in the 2021 draft, the Titans have added three defenders—two (Caleb Farley and Molden) who figure to be starters and one (Monty) who can provide them with a good depth option and a change of pace at linebacker.
That’s in addition to the defenders the Titans added in free agency—DL Denico Autry, CB Janoris Jenkins and OLB Bud Dupree.
Receiver is a problem for this team, but their defense has already gotten a whole lot better.
Cover image: USA Today/Mark J. Rebilas