The 2020 NFL Draft is just over 24 hours away, and the biggest question remains; how will the Tennessee Titans attack the draft?
This mock draft does its best in addressing their biggest needs while also acknowledging value in certain rounds. Fellow A to Z Sports intern, Reid Besch, and I made all the picks using The Draft Network’s Mock Draft Machine.
Round 1, Pick 29: Noah Igbinoghene, Cornerback, Auburn
The Titans grab a high-upside corner with their first pick and, in turn, fill their biggest need on the roster. Igbinoghene, a highly touted wide receiver prospect coming out of high school, made the swap to cornerback for his final two years at Auburn. At 5’11” and 200 pounds, the former tiger has some absolute wheels and is especially effective in zone coverage. “Ig” is a firecracker at the line of scrimmage when pressing against receivers. He’s at his best when he’s able to be physical early in the route and then use his speed to mirror his opponent.
Noah was also a very impressive track athlete both in college and high school, which points to how special his physical traits truly are. This is a big reason he had two 90+ yard kick returns for touchdowns during his Auburn career. He’s still fairly raw in pure man coverage downfield and struggles reading routes before it’s too late at times. Vrabel and co. will have to key in on his strengths while using his pure athleticism to improve his down-falls. Igbinoghene could become a very big piece of the Titans secondary early on in his career with Logan Ryan possibly out the door and Malcolm Butler’s future with the team seemingly looking cloudy. – via Adam Holt.
Auburn’s Noah Igbinoghene is still learning the position and needs to improve his play at the catch point, but his match-and-mirror ability and deep speed are rare — he has special movement skills teams will covet early.pic.twitter.com/vOTV9mktKb
— Austin Gayle (@PFF_AustinGayle) April 18, 2020
Round 2, Pick 61: Curtis Weaver, EDGE, Boise State
In the second round, the Titans address pass rush. Jadeveon Clowney is not a for sure deal yet, and Vic Beasley Jr is on a one-year, “prove it” deal. The Titans don’t want to be caught shorthanded at pass rush if Clowney were to choose another suitor, and Beasley doesn’t pan out. They add Weaver to help them in that area.
Weaver is a solid 6’2″, 265 pound speed rusher. He ended the season with among the national leaders with 18.5 tackles for a loss and 13.5 sacks. He leaves Boise State as the All-Time Sack Leader for the Mountain West with 34.0 career sacks. – via Reid Besch.
I will not rest until Curtis Weaver gets the attention he deserves. The man is WRECKING offensive lines.
Among CFB edge defenders through Week 3 (per @PFF), Weaver has the:
– Most total pressures
– 4th highest pass-rush grade
– 5th highest pass-rush win rate pic.twitter.com/agLifdbZP7
— Anthony Treash (@PFF_Anthony) September 19, 2019
Round 3, Pick 93: Ben Bartch, Offensive Tackle, St. John
After losing Jack Conklin in free agency, the Titans snag a 6’6″ mountain of a man from St. John in the third round. Turron Davenport, an ESPN Titans reporter, notioned on the “Locked on NFL Draft” podcast last week that Dennis Kelly was resigned with the intention that he would be the starting tackle opposite of Taylor Lewan entering the season. If that is in fact the case, this pick gives the Titans some much needed depth up front. On a fairly inexperienced offensive line, there is also a possibility Bartch could transition into being a starter at some point.
With solid hand usage and quick feet for a bigger guy, Bartch maintains very solid balance while engaging defenders. The biggest question with him may possibly be the steep step-up in competition the NFL will bring with it. For St. John, he rag-dolled some guys fairly easily on some reps just using his raw strength, but he will have to continue to polish other aspects of his game to succeed in the NFL. Although, for a division three athlete, Bartch showed great athleticism for his size that will most likely transition well to the next level. The Titans have found some success with a smaller school guy in Nate Davis, so Bartch could continue to grow in a similar way. He would be a nice developmental, upside add in the late third round for Tennessee. – via Adam Holt.
Based on the film I think St. John’s (MN) OT Ben Bartch is a better prospect than Alex Taylor of South Carolina St. Best D3 blocker since Ali Marpet and should receive an invite to an all-star game and the NFL Scouting Combine.
Here’s one of my favorite reps (LT78): pic.twitter.com/5W6lDsjMxG
— Scott Wright (@DraftCountdown) October 17, 2019
Round 5, Pick 174: J.J. Taylor, Running Back, Arizona
After addressing other team needs in the first four rounds, the Titans go with running back in the fifth round. The Titans don’t want to draft a running back before the 5th round because they don’t want to send the wrong message to workhorse Derrick Henry. A back before round 5 could be seen as Henry’s replacement. Therefore, they choose J.J. Taylor out of Arizona.
Possibly the smallest guy in the draft, standing at 5’5″ and 185 pounds. Don’t let his size fool you though, as he is a very aggressive and powerful runner. His Junior year, he was on the watch list for the Doak Walker Award for Running Backs, and toted the rock to 1,400 yards rushing. He may not be the shifty back that everyone wants, but he can be a pass catcher. J.J. Taylor can be the 3rd down back to Derrick Henry. He comes off his best receiving year, statistically, where he averaged 9.0 yards a catch. Also, another skill set that can Taylor has to help the Titans: returning. Adoree Jackson has not worked out the way the team hoped in the return game; Taylor may not be the most explosive returner, but he does have experience returning kicks. – via Reid Besch.
I like J.J. Taylor as a late round Dion Lewis replacement:
☑️Receiving Abilities pic.twitter.com/uAEZRSZZDC
— Titans Tape (@TitansTape) February 24, 2020
Round 7, Pick 224: John Reid, Cornerback, Penn State
Tennessee doubles down on its biggest position of need here. Reid is one of the most fluid and feisty athletes in this year’s cornerback class. He also put up some great production in the Big Ten for the Nittany Lions. Reid tallied 37 passes defended alongside 7 interceptions during his college career. John would provide more quickness in the secondary alongside burners like Adoree Jackson and for this mock’s purposes, Noah Igbinoghene.
Reid has experience in both man and zone coverage and performed well in both during his time with Penn State. His willingness to tackle is very impressive, too. Unfortunately, as a smaller guy, Reid occasionally gets beat on jump balls out of his reach. On the bright side, this isn’t the case too often because of his tight coverage skills and quickness. He has room to improve, but in the seventh round, this selection could be a steal for the Titans. – via Adam Holt.
Round 7, Pick 237: Jauan Jennings, Wide Receiver, Tennessee
In a Wide Receiver heavy draft, it makes sense for the Titans to wait to pick up their guy. They go with hometown guy Jauan Jennings in the 7th. The Titans are not notorious for going with hometown guys, but Jennings is a little different. They can get good value here in the last round of the draft. Jennings did not have a good combine which might cause him to fall this far or even out of the draft.
Jennings is a wide out who can perform better than his combine number show. He ran slower than he wanted in the combine, yet again who runs a 40 time that they actually want to in the combine? At 6’3″ he is a tall wide receiver who has good hands. He left Tennessee with impressive numbers: 5th in school history in career receptions (146), 4th in receiving yards with (2,153) and tied-for-fifth in receiving touchdowns (18). Jennings has the opportunity to come to the Titans as 4th or 5th wide receiver on roster and grow into a role player, similar to the departing Tajae Sharpe. – via Reid Besch.
Round 7, Pick 243: Bryce Perkins, Quarterback, Virginia
The Titans add a very athletic passer to the QB room alongside Ryan Tannehill and Logan Woodside here with their final selection. A Cavalier fan-favorite, Perkins was very exciting to watch during his time with Virginia. Between his two seasons as the starter, Bryce threw for 6210 yards and 47 touchdowns with 21 interceptions. As a talented runner, he added 1692 yards and 20 touchdowns on the ground.
Perkins certainly isn’t ready to become an NFL starter by any means yet. Although, time in a system like Tennessee’s could turn him into a very nice backup QB to Ryan Tannehill, who the Titans extended this offseason. The Virginia product was a magician on many plays for the Cavs, escaping pressure and making some skillful touch throws on the run. His consistent accuracy isn’t anything to write home about, but he certainly does make some throws that make people want to rewind the television. He will also need to work on his pre-snap reads at the next level. A late round quarterback may be daunting after the Luke Falk experiment, but Perkins could be a smart addition for Tennessee. – via Adam Holt.
We still can’t believe this play by Bryce Perkins 😳 pic.twitter.com/dxIYSqnbKm
— ACC Network (@accnetwork) September 15, 2019
Featured images via Dan Harralson, Charles Goldman, Patrick Conn – USA Today Sports