The Tennessee Titans are at a tipping point. Their recent past shows good success; they have won at least nine games each season since 2016. As of late, under head coach Mike Vrabel, the Titans have had two emotionally charged seasons. They finished second in the AFC South in 2019, upsetting both the New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens in the playoffs, and won the division in 2020, though to less success in the postseason as an early out.
The Titans have some of their top contributors returning. On offense, they have Ryan Tannehill at quarterback; behind him, they still have the NFL’s most dominant running back Derrick Henry. Tennessee also has its top receiving option in A.J. Brown. But the offseason has come and gone with its toll of changes to the team’s roster. The Titans moved on from cornerbacks Malcolm Butler and Adoree’ Jackson and let go of their starting right tackle Isaiah Wilson just one year after drafting him in the first round. As for the rest of their offense, wide receivers Corey Davis and Adam Humpries, as well as starting tight end Jonnu Smith, are elsewhere. That’s all without mentioning their offensive coordinator for the past two seasons is now the head coach in Atlanta.
The Titans have a good amount of picks in the 2021 NFL Draft, but they’ll need to use them wisely to continue to contend in the AFC. Here’s what a seven-round mock could look like for Tennessee:
Round 1 (No. 22 overall): Terrace Marshall Jr., WR, LSU
There are times when I go back and forth about what the top priority will be for the Titans in the first round. They lost a lot of depth at both cornerback and receiver and need to find starters for both. But it seems like they are okay with the cornerbacks they have in Janoris Jenkins, Kristian Fulton, and Chris Jackson. It doesn’t appear they have similar names to point to with their receiver group outside of Brown. This makes me think a receiver is a top target, and Terrace Marshall Jr. can give them some slot and outside versatility that they need.
Round 2 (No. 53 overall): Elijah Molden, CB, Washington
The Titans gave up way too many big scores through the air in 2020, hence their reasoning for moving on from two of their starters at corner and starting safety Kenny Vaccaro. Elijah Molden can give Tennessee some strong safety and nickel cornerback versatility, and his high football IQ, from his football family background, should be something the Titans like.
Round 3 (No. 85 overall): Spencer Brown, OT, Northern Iowa
Wilson was deemed a bust very quickly, and the Titans will need a right tackle to replace him. Spencer Brown plays the position with a mean streak, which is something the Titans seem to prioritize. I don't believe the Wilson slip-up will have them waver from the kind of football players that go after. Spencer Brown fits their need perfectly as a former right tackle in college.
Round 3 (No. 100 overall): Trill Williams, CB, Syracuse
While Molden can bring the Titans some secondary versatility at safety and as a nickel, Trill Williams can be that extra body on the outside. Long, rangy, athletic, physical, and aggressive are the words used to describe Williams in our scouting report. Give him some extra reps and he could turn out to be a fine starting outside corner for Tennessee.
Round 4 (No. 126 overall): Cornell Powell, WR, Clemson
Just when you think Clemson is done being an NFL receiver factory, players start coming out of nowhere to produce at a high level. That’s what it feels like Cornell Powell did in the 2020 season. He was the big-play, contested-catch X receiver for the Tigers, and it likely catapulted him to a somewhat early Day 3 selection. He’s another player who plays with a lot of strength and determination. The Titans need that X-type now that Corey Davis is in New York.
Round 5 (No. 166 overall): Quintin Morris, TE, Bowling Green
With Smith no longer on the team, the Titans need that all-around versatile tight end. Now, Quintin Morris—or any tight end they get on Day 3—won't be what Smith was last season; but Smith himself was a third-round selection in the 2017 draft. He developed into the starter who hit a big payday this offseason, and perhaps Morris can develop into a fine contributor as well.
Round 5 (No. 205 overall): Elerson Smith, EDGE, Northern Iowa
This might be the most Northern Iowa draft a single team has ever had in draft history with both Elerson Smith and Spencer Brown.
Elerson Smith is more of a pass rusher first kind of player, so his usage will be situational to start. But his style as a 3-4 outside linebacker bodes well to what they want to do. Plus, the Titans just need more pass rusher bodies to help Harold Landry not be on the field as much as he was in 2020. He’s a good player, but he needs some help so he’s not on the field for more than 1,000 snaps like last year.
Round 6 (No. 215 overall): Darius Stills, IDL, West Virginia
Jeffery Simmons is proving to be one of the top interior defensive linemen in the NFL, but the Titans don’t have a lot running next to him. Daylon Mack is sort of a flyer player on the roster, but Darius Stills can be a good one too. He’s a good one-gap interior defensive line option for when the Titans want to play Simmons at nose tackle, or just in obvious passing situations.
Round 7 (No. 232 overall): Grant Stuard, LB, Houston
Late rounds of the draft are all about the special team contributors, and Grant Stuard can be that. He can be a backup linebacker option for the Titans’ current starters and will be a player who can give them tons of energy on special teams.