Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 3/18/12
It was a season of highs and lows for the Tennessee Titans. On September 1st, after weeks of holdouts and negotiations, the Titans made their franchise player Chris Johnson happy, to the sum of four years and $53.5 million. What did he do to thank owner Bud Adams? Johnson finished the season with 1,047 yards rushing and four touchdowns, having career lows in yards, touchdowns, and yards per carry, helping the Titans to rank second to last in the NFL in rushing. Quarterback play was consistent with Matt Hasselbeck throwing for 3,571 yards and 18 scores, but it gave some hope for the future with 2010 first round pick Jake Locker. Locker got progressively better in each of his five appearances. In his last, a loss to Indianapolis on December 18th, Locker was 11 for 16 for 106 yards and a score. He would finish the season throwing no picks, four TDs, and completing 51.1 percent of his passes. Nate Washington stepped in for the troubled and injured Kenny Britt, catching 74 balls for 1,023 yards and seven touchdowns.
 
Tennessee would win three of its first five games, but after their bye week in Week 6, they could not play consistently enough to break away from the pack. They would finish the season 9-7; going 6-5 after the break and the Cincinnati Bengals would hold the tie-breaker over the Titans. They hold the 20th overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.
 
Where CJ2K was a problem for the Titans, he wasn’t the only problem. Inconsistent offensive line play did not help Johnson get going, especially at the guard position. Leroy Harris took over as the starter for Eugene Amano in 2010, and was not anything special. Cortland Finnegan left via free agency and Tommie Campbell should be qualified to take over as the starter in 2012, but they still need depth in the secondary. All three linebackers were beat out in tackles by CB Jason McCourty and, along with the defensive line, allowed 128.3 yards rushing a game.
 
It should be known that if a good corner is available for the Titans to take at No. 20 overall, they are going to do it. CB Stephen Gilmore out of South Carolina is probably ranked number one overall on GM Ruston Webster and VP Mike Reinfeldt’s big board. Gilmore has the experience and skill-set that Tennessee would be thankful to have. Some people see the Titans taking North Alabama corner Janoris Jenkins, but after all the problems Adam “Pacman” Jones gave them, you would think they would want to avoid another potential headache on a player with character issues.

Plan “B” has to be to bulk up that offensive line so CJ can get going again. Guard Kevin Zeitler out of Wisconsin is the safe, smart pick to go here. He is 6’4’’ 314lbs and has been coached very well under Badger head coach Bret Bielema. He was named to Yahoo! Sports' Second Team All-American in 2011 and should be a long-time starter in the NFL. Kelechi Osemele from Iowa State is considered one of the top guard prospects in this year’s Draft, but his upside does not outweigh Zeitler’s experience.
 
Teams picking behind the Titans don’t really scream trading up to grab someone they want. The Bengals and Browns (21st and 22nd, respectively) have the most ammunition to trade up, both have nine picks in this year’s draft. But with RGIII all but off the table, the Browns aren’t going anywhere, and the Bengals shocked the world last year with rookies Andy Dalton and A.J. Green and made the playoffs. They will be going for a lot of defensive players in this Draft, all of whom would be available at their 17th and 21st picks in the first round. The problem everyone is scared of now is pulling a New Orleans Saints, or as of last year, an Atlanta Falcons. That is, mortgaging your future for one player you believe to be the next big thing. WR Justin Blackmon appears to be the next big thing, and if any team believes he’s worth it, that could mean aftershock to all the teams who had a plan already in place.
 
Past First Round NFL Draft Picks:
2011- 8th Jake Locker, QB Washington
2010- 16th Derrick Morgan, DE Georgia Tech
2009- 30th Kenny Britt, WR Rutgers
2008- 24th Chris Johnson, RB East Carolina
2007- 19th Michael Griffin, FS Texas

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