The 2021 NFL Draft begins on Thursday, and as things currently sit, the Tennessee Titans have nine picks across seven rounds.
This draft could be a defining year for General Manager Jon Robinson, who presumably has a chip on his shoulder after the Isaiah Wilson debacle of last year. Additionally, four of Robinson’s six first-round picks since taking over as GM in 2016 are no longer on the roster.
Robinson has said he doesn’t plan to miss on many more draft picks, and with no in-person scouting combine and an all-virtual offseason scouting process, he has likely had to be more diligent than any other draft he has prepared for.
With many options to consider, here is the Nashville Post’s 2021 dueling mock draft, consisting of picks from Post sports reporter Michael Gallagher and Post contributor and Williamson Home Page sports reporter Cory Woodroof:
Round 1, No. 22
Michael: Elijah Moore, WR, Ole Miss
An argument could be made to take a cornerback here, and if Greg Newsome II, Jaycee Horn, or Caleb Farley fall to No. 22, then it should surprise no one if the Titans took one of those players instead. However, Tennessee signed Janoris Jenkins and Kevin Johnson during free agency to pair with Kristian Fulton, Breon Borders and Kareem Orr, and the cornerback depth looks a lot better than the receiver depth, which features A.J. Brown, Josh Reynolds, Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, Cameron Batson and Rashard Davis.
Rashod Bateman, Terrace Marshall, Kadarius Toney and Rondale Moore could also all be options here if they go the receiver route, but Moore seems to be tailor-made for the Titans’ offensive scheme.
Cory: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame
The Titans find themselves in a strange spot. They look a little shakier on offense with the loss of Arthur Smith calling the plays and Corey Davis to free agency and a little better on defense with the addition of Bud Dupree to the pass rush and Janoris Jenkins to the secondary. The team might be wise to take a “best player available” approach to just bolster the overall talent.
So, why another linebacker? Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah would give the Titans their own Derwin James-type flex player on defense who could help fill the loss of Kenny Vaccaro at strong safety and also play closer to the line of scrimmage to help out Rashaan Evans and Jayon Brown. It’s the happy marriage of excellent value, a filled need and exciting potential. Owusu-Koramoah could give the Titans a strong talent to roam the defense — a side of the ball it needs to shore up with Trevor Lawrence and Carson Wentz coming into the AFC South.
Round 2, No. 53
Michael: Joseph Ossai, Edge, Texas
After going receiver in the first, it could be tempting to go corner in this spot. But Ossai, who began the offseason as a projected first-round pick, has fallen into the second round in most mock drafts. If he’s still there at No. 53, the Titans would be fools to pass him up.
Ossai, who reportedly had several zoom interviews with the Titans during the pre-draft process, put up strong numbers during his pro day, including running a 4.64 40-yard dash time. He has a great closing burst, he gets off the ball quickly and he was one of the better run stoppers in college football. He has played as both a standup linebacker and as a defensive end and would be an ideal fit in Tennessee.
Cory: Daviyon Nixon, DL, Iowa
It’s tempting to grab a right tackle here, but with free agent Kendall Lamm getting more than $3 million annually for the next two years, you wonder if the Titans have him penciled in there with Ty Sambrailo as swing tackle.
Losing DaQuan Jones is a bigger loss than one might think, and Nixon could very easily step into Jones’ shoes and develop into the running mate Jeffery Simmons could thrive with over the years. Nixon is an aggressive three-tech interior pass rusher and he could right way help get after quarterbacks and give Simmons more focus on swallowing space and shutting down plays.
Round 3: No. 85:
Michael: Eric Stokes, CB, Georgia
Finally, a cornerback. Stokes and Tyson Campbell were two highly-regarded corners coming out of Georgia, and both could be available here. Stokes is a burner, running a 4.34 40-yard dash time during his pro day, and he allowed just 145 yards in coverage playing an all-SEC schedule this year. He could push Fulton, the team’s second-round pick last year, and help solidify Tennessee’ future at CB with Jenkins, 32, and Johnson, 28, both likely not long-term options.
Cory: Tylan Wallace, WR, Oklahoma State
Here’s your receiver help, Titans fans. NFL’s Lance Zierlein compares Wallace to former Titans’ receiver Nate Washington: he’s not the biggest outside receiver, but he has the skill and toughness to cement a spot there quicker than folks expect. Replacing Davis is no easy task. But adding a feisty option in Wallace and free agent Josh Reynolds give the Titans plenty of fresh options.
Round 3, No. 100:
Michael: Hunter Long, TE, Boston College
Many mock drafts have the Titans picking either Notre Dame’s Tommy Tremble or Miami’s Brevin Jordan — and either would be fine options. But Long is an underrated pass catcher and could come in, play alongside Anthony Firkser, and take over as the full-time start in his second year.
Cory: Hunter Long, TE, Boston College
The Titans need variety in the red zone, and Long could factor in there early in his career, though Zierlein feels he needs to improve his battle ability and blocking. He’s the right kind of athletic prospect to see if you can mold with a pick in the triple-digits.
Round 4, No. 126:
Michael: Kelvin Joseph, CB, Kentucky
Getting Stokes in Round 3 was a good start and landing Joseph in Round 4 helps really solidify the team’s cornerback depth. He’s got great quickness and is solid in press coverage. One of the strengths of his game is his ability to adjust on vertical routes, and he could help out should either Jenkins or Johnson not play up to expectations.
Cory: Shaun Wade, CB, Ohio State
The Titans draft a developmental corner who was formerly coached by Titans assistant Kerry Coombs, now the defensive coordinator and secondary coach at Ohio State. You could imagine Coombs giving Mike Vrabel a call and vouching for Wade, who could develop behind Janoris Jenkins, Kristian Fulton, Kevin Johnson and Breon Borders and play special teams early in his career.
Round 5, No. 166:
Michael: Adrian Ealy, OT, Oklahoma
Tennessee does have Kendall Lamm and Ty Sambrailo, which should be good enough to at least get the team through next season. But after cutting Dennis Kelly and trading Wilson, the Titans need to start looking to the future at right tackle. Ealy is 6-foot-6, was a two-time second team All-Big 12 selection and allowed just three sacks on 421 passing plays last season.
Cory: Jonathon Cooper, Edge, Ohio State
Remember Coombs? The Titans dip from the Buckeye well twice here and grab Cooper, who The Draft Network believes could be a diamond in the rough and a situational pass rusher right away in his career.
Round 6, No. 205:
Michael: Shi Smith, WR, South Carolina
After adding Moore with their first pick, the Titans can bolster their WR depth with a late-round wideout. North Texas’ Jaelon Darden, BYU’s Dax Milne, UAB’s Austin Watkins and Auburn’s Anthony Schwartz could all be options in the latter rounds, but Smith is underrated and not afraid to make a catch over the middle. He could be a nice player to develop in a slot role.
Cory: Jose Borregales, K, Miami
After the Stephen Gostkowski experiment failed for the Titans last season, the team decides to use one of its sixth-round picks to grab Borregales, one of the top kicking prospects in this year’s class.
Round 7, No. 215:
Michael: Joshua Kaindoh, Edge, Florida State
These picks likely won’t make the roster, but will the Titans really be worse by adding another edge rusher? Kaindoh was a fairly productive player at FSU in a limited role. He finished his four-year career with eight sacks, 16.5 tackles for loss, a fumble recovery and interception returned for touchdown. He could be a nice developmental pass rusher down the road.
Cory: Robert Jones, OG, MTSU
The Blue Raiders haven’t failed the Titans yet with prospects, and here, the Titans supplant guard depth with Jones and keep him close to home.
Round 7, No. 232:
Michael: Quinton Bohanna, DT, Kentucky
Jeffery Simmons could use some help up the middle and the loss of DaQuan Jones is one the Titans will feel more than they might lead on. At 6-foot-4 and 320 pounds, Bohanna is a load to deal with along the line. He had nine tackles for loss, two sacks, a forced fumble and fumble recovery during his career in Lexington.
Cory: Paris Ford, S, Texas
The Titans grab Ford, a decent-enough prospect for this round, to see if he can make the roster and develop for more down the road in the secondary.