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This NFL Draft stumps Tennessee Titans, experts

9:59 AM, Apr 25, 2013   |    comments
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By Jim Wyatt, The Tennessean

» Tennessee Titans NFL Draft 2013: Best and Worst Titans Picks

» DRAFT POLL: Which player should the Titans select with 10th pick?

» Tennessee Titans' top draft targets

» Most mocks see Titans picking guard or d-lineman

Over and over leading up to the NFL Draft, Titans general manager Ruston Webster played out scenarios in his head.

Driving to and from the office, he compiled mock drafts. Sitting down for a quick lunch, he compiled mock drafts. When his head hit the pillow, he was still pondering the possibilities involving teams ahead of his.

"The art of the draft," Webster said, "is trying to figure out who's going to be there when you pick."

When the first round begins at 7 p.m. today, Webster and the rest of the NFL finally will get some answers. The Titans are scheduled to pick 10th overall.

Despite all the mental deliberation, Webster said he's still not sure which players he'll be choosing from when the Titans go on the clock. In each of his mock drafts, he ended up with a half-dozen scenarios.

But he's not alone. This draft is considered especially tough to forecast.

"It changes from year to year, but I think it is more difficult this year," said Webster, now in his second year as GM. "Sometimes you have a great feel for what is going to happen, and other times you don't. And I would say this is one of those years where it's a little more unpredictable."

Case in point: In 20 mock drafts surveyed on Wednesday, seven different players went to the Titans with the 10th pick.

Guards Chance Warmack (Alabama) and Jonathan Cooper (North Carolina) remained popular selections, and defensive tackle Star Lotulelei (Utah) has been linked to the Titans more often lately. But wouldn't the Titans have to pick defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd (Florida) if he fell to 10? Many analysts have him tabbed as a top-three talent.

Defensive ends, cornerbacks and safeties also could be in play for the Titans. But there's so much mystery surrounding picks 1-9 that it's difficult to forecast who will be on the board at 10.

"This is the 30th draft that I've covered, and I've never had a top 10, a first round, that's this confusing," Sports Illustrated's Peter King said. "I don't know who's going No. 1. When is the last draft when there is absolute confusion about who is going No. 1? ...

"So it is all a mystery. But that is what is going to make it fun on Thursday night. There will be a legitimate element of surprise."

There are at least a couple of reasons this draft is especially difficult to predict, King said.

For starters, six teams in the top 10 have new decision-makers, and a half-dozen more have new head coaches. So there's no draft day trend to follow. The draft also lacks the franchise quarterbacks and the skill players teams usually pencil in early. Some analysts believe as many as five offensive linemen could be selected in the top 10.

Defensive end/linebacker Barkevious Mingo (LSU) is projected as a top-five pick in some mock drafts, a mid-first rounder in others. Opinions are all over the map for a number of other players, including defensive end Ezekiel Ansah (BYU) and cornerback Dee Milliner (Alabama). And will a team surprise everyone and grab a quarterback early?

Mike Detillier, publisher of M&D Draft Report and a draft analyst for 27 years, called this year's draft "the most unpredictable top 10 that I've ever done." In his mock draft, Detillier gave Warmack to the Titans.

"The thing about this year's draft is it has so many "maybe" players. ... And you have medical issues with a lot of guys so you don't know what teams are thinking," Detillier said. "Overall, it is kind of a meat-and-potatoes draft. It's not the sexy draft. There's no star appeal like a Cam Newton or a Robert Griffin III or Andrew Luck.

"There there's some good depth, but if this draft were a movie, they'd have a difficult time putting a name on the marquee, on who is the star of the movie."

Webster hopes the Titans will land a star, of course. He indicated the first-round pick could come from three or four positions. The Titans are scheduled to make eight more picks in rounds 2-7.

NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock expressed concern Wednesday about the accuracy of his own mock draft, and agreed this year's selection process might not have the star appeal of some in the past.

The good news, he said, is "there's probably 25 to 35 more draftable players this year than last year."

Mayock has his bases covered when it comes to the Titans. He thinks they will take a guard, defensive lineman or cornerback.

Webster, like everyone else, is just ready to make a real pick.

"I've done mock drafts daily for the past few weeks," he said. "I think we're all ready to get going."

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