2019 NFL Combine: 10 players for Titans to watch
The Titans need to bolster their defense with an edge rusher. They need to improve their offense with upgrades on the interior of the offensive line and at wide receiver.
This week represents a chance to make some important evaluations on that front.
Indianapolis' Lucas Oil Stadium plays host to the 2019 NFL combine this week, beginning Tuesday and concluding March 4. Titans coach Mike Vrabel and general manager Jon Robinson will address the media Tuesday, two months ahead of the 2019 NFL draft in Nashville.
Here are 10 names the Titans will be keeping an eye on at the combine as potential early-round targets:
Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson
ESPN’s Mel Kiper has the Titans scooping up Wilkins in the first round, a pick that would make a lot of sense. Writes Kiper: “Tennessee got very little last season from free-agent addition Bennie Logan, and the defense could upgrade on either side of ... Jurrell Casey in its 3-4. Wilkins (6-4, 312) could play tackle in a 4-3 or end in a 3-4.”
Jachai Polite, OLB, Florida
He’s an edge rusher who is projecting to go in the middle of the first round. That sounds exactly like the profile of someone the Titans might jump at. Polite had 11 sacks for the Gators last season, using his speed and power to bend around the corner to cause disruption.
Brian Burns, OLB, Florida State
Again, the Titans are in the market for a pass rusher after the retirement of Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan hitting free agency. Burns would give them exactly that. He’s projecting as a late first-round pick.
Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson
The Titans need a complement to Casey, someone who can help plug the middle of the defensive line to help a rush defense that was inconsistent a year ago. Lawrence, with his 6-foot-5, 340-pound frame, would give them that. He's going in the middle of the first round in mock drafts.
T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa
Does a tight end make sense for the Titans in the first round? It doesn’t seem so, not with their glaring list of needs at other positions – unless that tight end is really, really good. Hockenson, with his elite combination of strength and athleticism, has emerged as a popular choice for the Titans among draft analysts. Kiper wouldn’t go as far as calling him a Rob Gronkowski clone, but he made sure to emphasize how similar they look.
Montez Sweat, DE, Mississippi State
Unless he actually does something to affect his draft stock negatively at the combine, Sweat is probably out of reach for the Titans at No. 19. His impressive showing at the Senior Bowl surged him from late in the first round to more of a top-15 pick. But if he falls, he’s a no-brainer for the Titans.
Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma
The Titans should be looking to pad their receiving corps with a veteran free agent this offseason, but they also could address the issue early in the draft. Marcus Mariota needs more weapons, and Brown would give him a burner. Though only 5-foot-10 and 160 pounds, Brown is an exceptional route runner and vertical threat who is going in the middle of the first round in mock drafts.
A.J. Brown, WR, Ole Miss
Ole Miss’ Brown also could be a solution to the Titans’ dearth of explosive offensive threats. The 6-foot-1, 225-pound receiver had 2,572 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns over the past two seasons and is going later than Oklahoma’s Brown in most mock drafts.
D.K. Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss
At 6-foot-4, 230 pounds, Metcalf is the biggest of the receivers listed here and is a red-zone weapon. His speed and route-running will be worth watching at the combine.
Chris Lindstrom, OG, Boston College
He’s the No. 2-ranked guard on WalterFootball.com and, if the Titans luck out, might be able to be had at 51st overall, their second-round pick. Bolstering the interior of the offensive line is a top priority for a Titans team that struggled there in 2018, and Lindstrom would represent an immediate upgrade.
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Reach Erik Bacharach at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @ErikBacharach.
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