Titans upgrade several key areas with selections in NFL Draft

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Tennessee Titans

The Tennessee Titans finished 9-7 in 2018, marking the third straight season with nine wins. However they missed the playoffs largely due to a poor offense that ranked 27th in scoring at 19.4 points per game. Defensively, the Titans were stellar, giving up the third fewest points at 18.9 per game. Despite the proficiency on defense, the Titans went heavy on that side of the ball in the draft. Let’s examine the Titans top six selections.

Round 1 (19th) Jeffery Simmons (DT) Mississippi State

Simmons played in 12 games as a freshman, recording 40 tackles and was named to the SEC All-Freshman team. He improved the following season to first-team All-SEC making 60 tackles and five sacks. Last season Simmons started every game and registered 63 tackles with 17 for loss of yardage.

The future is bright for Simmons after he returns to health from a torn ACL in his left knee. However, there is some time before he will be able to return to the field. When he returns, Simmons has a chance to be a real difference maker, making plays in the backfield.

Round 2 (51st) A.J. Brown (WR) Ole Miss

Brown scored two times as a freshman on 29 catches. As a sophomore, Brown caught 75 passes for 1252 yards, earning first-team All-SEC honors. Last season, Brown set a school record with 1320 yards on 85 receptions. He was again rewarded for his accomplishments by being selected first-team All-SEC.

The Titans enjoy the versatility that Brown displays, being physical enough to catch balls in traffic and quick enough to get yards after the catch. One of the most complete receivers coming out of the draft, Brown should pay immediate dividends, helping a poor passing attack from a season ago.

Round 3 (82nd) Nate Davis (OL) UNC-Charlotte

Davis didn’t play in 2014 due to academic reasons, but started at right guard for the last 10 games in 2015. He was honorable mention All-Conference USA in 2016 and again in 2017 at right guard. Although suspended for four games last season, Davis made a successful transition to right tackle, earning second-team all-conference honors.

The versatility Davis displays is attractive to the Titans, who have a need at right guard after Quinton Spain left in free agency. Davis played mostly right guard in college, but with a season at right tackle and some time at center, can fill in anywhere across the line.

Round 4 (116th) Amani Hooker (S) Iowa

Hooker played mainly on special teams as a freshman, but started six times as a sophomore, recording 56 tackles and two interceptions in ten games. Playing as a combination of safety and linebacker in 2018, Hooker was the Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year, recording 65 tackles and four interceptions.

The Titans play an aggressive, tough defense and Hooker has all the physical attributes to succeed in the scheme. He has the ability to play on special teams, as well as cover tight ends and stack up against the run.

Round 5 (168th) D'Andre Walker (OLB) Georgia

Walker made nine tackles in 13 games as a freshman and 19 in 13 games the following season. Continuing in a reserve role as a junior, Williams had 5.5 sacks, 13.5 tackles for loss and 40 overall tackles. Cracking the starting lineup last season, Williams recorded 7.5 sacks and 45 tackles.

The Titans like Walker’s strength and overall size and should be solid on the run and get pressure on the quarterback in passing situations. As a fifth-round pick, it’s clearly not given that Walker will crack the starting lineup, however he should be in the mix for time at linebacker and on special teams.

Round 6 (188th) David Long Jr (LB) West Virginia

Long played cornerback as a freshman in four appearances with no tackles. As a sophomore, Long made 21 tackles and two interceptions in 13 starts. Last season Long started 13 games, earning first-team All-Big Ten recognition after making 17 tackles and knocking down eight others.

As a late-round pick, Long likely be competing for a spot to play on special teams. Although smaller than average by NFL standards, Long is gritty and has a knack for the football. This aggressive approach makes Long the perfect candidate to succeed on special teams.

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