Titans go defensive early in seven-pick mock draft

Sam Hubbard would give the Titans immediate pass-rush ability with his intelligence, solid technique and athleticism. Matthew Visinsky/Icon Sportswire

This year will be the first time since 2009 that the Tennessee Titans will pick higher than No. 20 in the first round of the NFL draft. It's a testament to the Titans' 2017 season, but it'll make the draft a little more difficult to map out.

We did our best anyway, mocking trades and picks based on what would fit the Titans' interests, needs and likely players available. I used our NFL Nation mock draft to determine who would be available for the Titans in the first round. Here's the result:

First round, No. 30 (trade No. 25 & No. 125 to Minnesota Vikings for No. 30, No. 94, No. 213 & No. 218): Sam Hubbard, OLB/DE, Ohio State

The Titans would love to trade down to get a couple of extra draft picks. They get the Vikings to bite, coming up five picks for an interior offensive lineman. Potential targets like Harold Landry and Rashaan Evans are off the board at this point, so the Titans nab Hubbard at No. 30. Not a bad spot for a second-round talent at premium position. Titans head coach Mike Vrabel finds a player similar to himself in Hubbard with plus assets including intelligence, great technique, play speed over timed speed and versatility. Hubbard provides the Titans immediate pass-rush ability and he becomes an understudy for aging veterans Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan.

Second round, No. 57: Jessie Bates III, S, Wake Forest

There are bigger needs to be filled, but Bates is one of the best players available on the board and a strong fit to help a Titans pass defense that finished 25th last season. Kevin Byard has become one of the NFL's best safeties, but there's room to add more competition for Johnathan Cyprien. Adding Bates, one of the draft's best coverage safeties, will make Dean Pees' disguise and blitz defense more dangerous. It'll also allow the Titans to use more three-safety sets.

Third round, No. 89: DaeSean Hamilton, WR, Penn State

Tennessee invested heavily at receiver in the draft last season with Corey Davis and Taywan Taylor, but there's still room to improve in route precision and big-play weapons. Hamilton, one of the draft's best route runners, is a big, physical slot receiver who provides good middle-round value. He can compete with Taylor and Tajae Sharpe for the WR3 position from Day 1. He'll also provide insurance for Rishard Matthews, who is entering the final year of his contract.

Third round, No. 94: Oren Burks, LB, Vanderbilt

The inside linebacker position is evolving to speedy, often smaller players with three-down coverage ability. The Titans use their extra third-round pick to get Burks, a potential Year 1 starter who began his college career at safety. Burks is similar, albeit more athletic, to the Titans' 2017 fifth-round pick Jayon Brown. Tennessee could plan for Burks and Brown being their long-term future at inside linebacker. Wesley Woodyard will be 32 when the season starts.

Fourth round, No. 134 (trade No. 162 and No. 199 to Denver Broncos for No. 134): Folorunso Fatukasi, DL, UConn

The Titans trade up to get Fatukasi, a big defensive lineman who would fit well in Vrabel's front multiplicity scheme. He has the ability to play nose tackle, defensive tackle and possibly 3-4 defensive end. Fatukasi flashed on teams' radars after a strong performance at the East-West Shrine Game. He'll increase competition and depth at an already strong position.

Sixth round, No. 213: Ito Smith, RB, Southern Miss

Smith's size (5-foot-9, 195 pounds) likely will prevent him from ever being a lead back, but he could succeed as a receiving or third-down back waiting for an opportunity behind Derrick Henry and Dion Lewis. Smith was extremely productive in college, totaling over 1,800 rushing and receiving yards and 15 touchdowns as a senior. He also provides insurance for a Lewis injury.

Sixth round, No. 218th: Kyle Allen, QB, Houston

No worries, Marcus Mariota's job is safe. The Titans do need a reliable, long-term backup quarterback to develop behind him. Blaine Gabbert is a viable stopgap for now. Allen is a former five-star prospect who had a lackluster collegiate career, but he has a good arm and flashed impressive production when he set a school record completing 31-of-33 passes in a game. Worth a shot for a developmental QB3 to potentially be more.