The majority of mock drafts have the Tennessee Titans selecting an edge rusher with the 25th overall selection in this year’s draft.
But with a pick that late in the first round, it’s very possible that Jon Robinson will eschew the Titans’ biggest perceived need in favor of the best player available.
That appears to be the strategy that CBS is predicting the Titans will take in their latest mock draft.
According to CBS, Tennessee will select Boise State linebacker Leighton Vander Esch.
Here’s what CBS has to say about the pick:
If Avery Williamson isn’t retained in free agency, Tennessee will have a glaring need at off-ball linebacker, and Vander Esch is a new-age type at that spot who can range all over the field.
There’s a very good chance that Williamson isn’t re-signed by the Titans, which will then make signing/drafting an inside linebacker a priority (which means this pick would then be a “need”).
Vander Esch, playing in his first full season at the collegiate level, put up huge numbers in 2017. In 14 games last season, he accumulated 141 total tackles, four sacks and three interceptions.
Not bad for a player that hadn’t played in more than eight games in either of his first two seasons in college.
NFL.com describes Vander Esch as a player with great sideline-to-sideline range that tackles great and is excellent in coverage. They also say he has great instincts as a blitzer.
The biggest downside to selecting Vander Esch seems to be that he only has one year of starting experience. But I wouldn’t worry about that too much, he proved last season he’s extremely talented.
Overall, I think this would be a great selection for the Titans.
Tennessee needs an interior linebacker who is great in coverage and has great tackle skills. If Vander Esch pans out, he could be the AFC version of Luke Kuechly (albeit in a 3-4 scheme).
That’s a lofty comparison, but Vander Esch displayed that kind of talent at Boise State last season. It might be a bit of a gamble taking him in the first round (because of his lack of experience). But I think it’s a gamble worth taking for the Titans.
Featured image via KTVB