By Ron Wynn
NASHVILLE, TN — For many weeks it’s been widely assumed that the Titans’ first priority in the upcoming draft would be defensive help, in particular either a defensive lineman or a linebacker whose specialty was rushing the passer off the edge. But a majority of draft analysts who are projecting their first round selection for Thursday’s draft, which is being held in Nashville for the first time, are saying that the team will be looking first at offensive line help, with two names in particular appearing on many lists. At press time the Titans were slated to pick number 19 in the first round, barring a last-minute deal to move either up or down. Overall, unless something changes, the Titans will pick in this order:
19th in the first round and 51st overall. They don’t currently have a second round pick. They will select 83rd in the third round, 115 in the fourth round, 147 in the fifth round and 176 in the sixth.
The first name that has repeatedly been cited is Garrett Bradbury, a center from North Carolina State. The Titans had lots of problem with pass protection both up the middle and on the interior, and Bradbury’s strengths are reportedly the ability to handle bigger linemen inside and also to adjust making calls and picking up blitzing linebackers. The thinking here is that current Titans center Ben Jones could slide over to guard, opening room for Bradbury to start as a rookie.
A second name that’s been frequently mentioned is Jawaan Taylor, an offensive tackle from Florida. His biggest assets are his size (six feet five inches and 328 pounds) and also his ability to handle edge rushers, whether defensive ends or linebackers. He’s projected as a possible right tackle, but has also played some guard. However he’s viewed as a second option, and more so if Titans make a trade to move down for more picks in the later rounds. Another surprise possibility is Noah Fant, a tight end from Iowa, who could be taken as a possible addition to the receiving corps and as insurance in case the comeback of Delanie Walker proves less than successful.
But whatever the case, none of these names is the defensive lineman or edge rushing linebacker that was originally thought to be the Titans primary need. However draft day surprises are commonplace, and the Titans have also been known to do some unusual things at the last minute. This year’s draft will be held downtown, with the main stage at First and Broadway. Selection Square, the location for team tables and the place where the actual picks will be made, is set at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center. Thursday’s first round will be aired on ABC (WKRN-2), ESPN, the NFL Network and ESPN Deportes. Friday’s second round is on ESPN, ESPN2, the NFL Network and ESPN Deportes. Saturday’s final rounds are once again on ABC (WKRN-2), ESPN, the NFL Network and ESPN Deportes. Nashville is the fifth location for the draft in the past six years after it was anchored in New York City for 50 years. Chicago, Philadelphia and Arlington were the previous locations since 2015.