NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Considering the Tennessee Titans have no shortage of needs -- including cornerback, wide receiver, offensive line, pass rush and more -- there are a number of ways they could go with their first-round pick at No. 22 in the NFL draft (April 29-May 1, ESPN).
The offense averaged 30.7 points per game in 2020 but lost some key players to free agency, such as wide receiver Corey Davis and tight end Jonnu Smith, as well as offensive coordinator Arthur Smith, who was hired as head coach of the Atlanta Falcons.
On the other side of the ball, after finishing with only 19 sacks last season (ranked 30th in the NFL), the Titans made some significant free-agent additions in outside linebacker Bud Dupree, defensive lineman Denico Autry and cornerback Janoris Jenkins.
But the roster could still use reinforcements, which brings us back to the draft. Fortunately for the Titans, there should be some first-round prospects who can bring instant improvement. While tight end would be an unlikely first-round selection, there will be plenty of potentially instant-impact options at wide receiver, pass rusher and cornerback.
A.J. Brown is the unquestionable leader in the receiver room. After Brown, things get a little shaky. Losing Davis (65 receptions, 984 yards, five touchdowns) to the New York Jets via free agency and releasing Adam Humphries created a void at the position. General manager Jon Robinson signed Josh Reynolds to help, but the team still doesn't have a bona fide slot receiver. Here are three playmakers who could be available at No. 22:
Rashod Bateman | Minnesota | 6-foot, 190 pounds
2020 stats: 36 receptions, 472 yards, 2 touchdowns (five games)
Bateman's 2019 season set him up with the option to be a likely first-round pick in the 2020 draft. But he chose to return for the 2020 season and played mostly in the slot after doing most of his damage on the outside in 2019. Bateman smoothly catches everything that is thrown his way.
He plays much bigger than his listed size and routinely makes contested catches because of his ability to go up and get the football. Bateman is exceptional at getting chunks of yards after the catch, because he accelerates through the football and snaps it out of the air without breaking stride. His all-around game would be ideal for the Titans, who are looking for a playmaking pass-catcher to complement Brown.
Elijah Moore | Ole Miss | 5-foot-10, 178 pounds
2020 stats: 86 receptions, 1,193 yards, 8 touchdowns (eight games)
ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. has Moore going to the Titans in the first round of his mock draft 4.0.
Though the Titans are another team that could address their pass rush, Moore would fit really well as quarterback Ryan Tannehill's primary slot target. Moore had 1,193 receiving yards in just eight games last season, working predominantly out of the slot. He can be a high-volume, easy-throw target alongside Brown.
Terrace Marshall Jr. | LSU | 6-foot-3, 205 pounds
2020 stats: 48 receptions, 731 yards, 10 touchdowns (seven games)
Marshall is a big-bodied receiver who has impressive down-the-field speed and the ability to track the football. He'd play mostly on the outside, where he can use his frame to win on combat catches along the boundary. Marshall was a consistent home-run hitter at LSU, averaging a touchdown every four catches in his final two seasons.
The Titans could get an immediate contributor if they select Marshall. His experience in the slot at LSU would give the Titans a bigger option when they move him around the formation.
No position group saw more turnover this offseason than the cornerbacks. Malcolm Butler and Adoree' Jackson were both released to save cap space and free agent Desmond King II wasn't re-signed. Veteran free-agents Janoris Jenkins and Kevin Johnson were brought in to add some experience to the secondary. Kristian Fulton returns for his second season and figures to be a starter this season. A cornerback could definitely be in play for the Titans in the first round.
Greg Newsome II | Northwestern | 6-foot, 192 pounds
2020 stats: 1 interception, 9 passes defended (four games)
Todd McShay's latest mock draft has the Titans taking Newsome in the first round.
Tennessee could use reinforcements along the offensive line, but the greatest need is either a pass-catcher or a cornerback. The Titans lost Davis, Smith, Jackson and King from those positions in free agency. Newsome is a shutdown corner who would fit nicely with Jenkins and Fulton in the Tennessee CB corps, though you'd like to see a few more interceptions than the one Newsome had in his three years in Evanston.
Caleb Farley | Virginia Tech | 6-foot-2, 197 pounds
2019 stats: 4 interceptions, 12 passes defended
Farley opted out of the 2020 college football season. When healthy, he is a legitimate top-15 prospect. He was not able to participate in Virginia Tech's pro day in March because he had to undergo a microdiscectomy.
"It’s an original deadlift injury that had herniated my L5 disc and bulged my S1. I chose to move forward and do the discectomy on the L5 herniation, which gave me immediate relief after,” Farley explained at his pro day.
Farley's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, told ESPN's Adam Schefter that he will be ready to play when teams report to training camp in July.
Farley has the necessary blend of athleticism, fluidity, length and quickness to develop into a shutdown corner in the NFL. He is at his best as a man defender in pass defense and has the ball skills to turn the football over.
Tyson Campbell | Georgia | 6-foot-1, 193 pounds
2020 stats: 1 interception, 4 passes defended (10 games)
Campbell isn't frequently mentioned along with the top corners in this draft, but his smooth hips and quick feet make him a natural man defender. His change-of-direction quickness enables him to mirror small, quicker receivers while his size allows him to match up against bigger wideouts.
Having played three seasons in the SEC, Campbell should be ready to step in at one of the outside cornerback spots, which would allow the Titans to have Fulton play inside in sub-packages. Campbell has the speed to run (4.38 in the 40-yard dash) with most receivers on the outside as well.
Outside linebacker/defensive end
The pursuit of pass-rushers continues for the Titans. Last season was a disaster after free agents Jadeveon Clowney and Vic Beasley didn't work out. The Titans fielded a total of three active outside linebackers for most of their games last season. Signing Dupree should be the first step toward fixing things. Adding a young standout in the draft would be the ideal next step.
Kwity Paye | Michigan | 6-foot-3, 261 pounds
2020 stats: 4 tackles for loss, 2 sacks (four games)
Paye is already a very stout run defender thanks to his suddenness off the line of scrimmage, functional strength and powerful hands. All of the intangibles are there for him to be a dominant pass-rusher. It will just take a coaching staff being able to further develop his natural ability.
Paye has played as both a standup edge defender and with his hand in the dirt. The ability to do both effectively blends well with how the Titans like to use multiple fronts. The force that Paye brings when rushing the passer would be ideal when looping inside in stunts to collapse the pocket from the interior.
Azeez Ojulari | Georgia | 6-foot-2, 249 pounds
2020 stats: 12.5 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles (10 games)
Ojulari's long arms make up for any perceived lack of height. He is a well-rounded defender who can rush off the edge with quickness, drop back into coverage or aggressively set the edge. Ojulari consistently stops pulling offensive lineman in their tracks to disrupt running plays.
The Titans could put Ojulari in a rotation with Dupree and outside linebacker Harold Landry III to give them three potent pass-rushers. Ojulari's energy and motor fit the personality the Titans want to bring to every game.
Zaven Collins | Tulsa | 6-foot-4, 260 pounds
2020 stats: 4 sacks, 4 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles (eight games)
Collins is one of the most versatile defenders in the draft. Like the other prospects mentioned, Collins can rush the passer effectively, but he is also an option to match up against tight ends in coverage. He also tracks down running backs like a heat-seeking missile.
Collins was the only FBS player to have at least four sacks and four interceptions last season. His range of talent and ability to contribute in so many ways would fit the multiple defenses the Titans want to employ.