Notre Dame receiver Michael Floyd could be a first-round NFL draft pick. / ASSOCIATED PRESS
By John Glennon, The Tennessean
have said improving their defense is the top priority this offseason,
so the odds are they will lean in that direction with their first-round
pick in the NFL Draft.
what happens if moves during free agency dramatically change the look
of the defense before the draft begins on April 26? Or what if the best
of an ordinary class of pass rushers are already off the board by the
time the Titans select at No. 20?
either case, the Titans could wind up taking a wide receiver, which is
why they're sure to be checking out those prospects during this week's NFL Combine in Indianapolis.
talent Justin Blackmon of Oklahoma State will be long gone by the
Titans step to the podium. But according to a couple of draft analysts,
there's a chance that some or all of the other potential first-round
wide receivers - Notre Dame's Michael Floyd, South Carolina's Alshon Jeffery, LSU's Rueben Randle, Rutgers' Mohamed Sanu and Baylor's Kendall Wright - could still be on the board when the Titans are ready to make their pick.
"I think there are six receivers that are in my top 34 picks overall," said Mike Detillier, longtime editor and publisher of NFL Draft Report. "That's a big class and there's a second group that's pretty solid also."
"It's real heavy for me at wide receiver. It's the biggest change
across the board we've seen in a lot of years. For every one good
defensive back, you probably have three wide receivers."
Titans will return their top four receivers from last season in Kenny
Britt, Nate Washington, Damian Williams and Lavelle Hawkins.
the fact that Britt will be trying to bounce back from an ACL injury,
coupled with the NFL's increased emphasis on the passing game, mean the
Titans could take a long look at wide receivers in the draft.
who was the primary target for Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin
III, is probably the most coveted prospect behind Blackmon. He doesn't
overwhelm with size (5-foot-10, 190 pounds) but is very likely the
fastest of the prospects.
"He is an absolute burner," CBS Sports draft analyst Rob Rang said. "He reminds me a lot of Steve Smith of the Carolina Panthers."
Said Mike Mayock of NFL Network: "Kendall Wright will run a sub 4.4 (in the 40-yard dash at the combine). He'll probably go in the top 15 picks."
there are some that rate the 6-3, 229-pound Floyd close to or above
Wright. Floyd posted 100 catches and nine touchdowns last season, but is
sure to be questioned about some alcohol-related incidents.
Floyd will be a top 15 or top 20 pick if he runs well at the combine, Mayock predicted.
SEC products account for two of the other three top prospects, but scouting reports differ on Randle and Jeffery.
6-3, 208-pound Randle showed himself to be a capable deep playmaking
threat for LSU last season, averaging better than 18 yards per catch.
"I like Reuben Randle, I really do," ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay
said. "He's little more athletic and tougher after the catch than I
expected. I also think he's more than just a (deep option) ... The more I
studied, the more I realized he can run routes and be a good player."
Said Mayock: "Randle should go in the second half of the first round,
somewhere in that 20 to 30 range. If he comes into the combine and runs
4.38 at 208 pounds that might change some things. He might go higher.
But he's extremely well thought of."
6-4, 229-pound Jeffery was a playmaker at South Carolina last year,
dominating opponents because of his size, tremendous hand-eye
coordination and ability to run after the catch. But there are questions
about his speed and ability to separate, which go hand-in-hand with
concerns about his conditioning.
scares me," Rang said. "I watched him be a dominant player in the SEC,
but rarely actually get open on the underneath routes. He can go up and
get the football as well as anybody, and because he doesn't have great
speed, he lulls cornerbacks to sleep and then he's able to get over the
top of them and make special plays. ...
so physical and big and strong that he is able to make catches even
when he's covered. But he's still covered. He's not going to break a lot
of tackles and get the big plays (in the NFL) like he did in the SEC."
6-2, 215-pound Sanu is looking to follow in Britt's footsteps as a
junior coming out of Rutgers. He doesn't have tremendous speed, but he
did post 115 catches last year and earned high marks for his strength,
his hands, his ability to run after the catch and even his blocking
everything well," Rang said. "He doesn't have flashy speed, but ... he
catches the ball. He's just a good football player and he doesn't shirk
away from physicality.
willing to go over the middle. He's willing to block. He's the kind of
kid that I think scouts aren't going to love, but I think coaches will. I
think he finds a spot late in the first round."