2017 NFL Mock Draft: Tennessee Titans select Marshawn Lattimore, O.J. Howard in first round

By Frank Cooney, NFLDraftScout.com   |   April 20, 2017 at 2:54 PM
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This is one in a series that covers each team, offering viewers information for homework, suggestions and then the opportunity to make a draft pick.

When the NFL Draft begins selections in Philadelphia April 27, the Tennessee Titans have the No. 5 and No. 18 picks in the first round.

Here is an in-depth look at the team's needs, offseason changes, potential best fit and the selections by NFLDraftScout.com's experts.

Who would you pick and why?

Top five needs

1. Cornerback: The Titans addressed this in free agency with Logan Ryan, but they recently released veteran Jason McCourty. The Titans were going to add at least one cornerback in this draft whether McCourty stayed or not, and general manager Jon Robinson's brief history when a position needs to be addressed is to remake it both in free agency and the draft.

2. Wide receiver: The Titans are pleased with Rishard Matthews and they still have high hopes for Tajae Sharpe after he showed flashes as a rookie. But Kendall Wright is gone, and veteran Harry Douglas is in the twilight of his career. From a sheer numbers standpoint, the Titans will probably add two more wide receivers from a class that is fairly deep, but might not have a true can't-miss superstar.

3. Tight end: The loss of Anthony Fasano in free agency is an underrated issue for the Titans, who can either hand Phillip Supernaw a bigger role in the offense as the second tight end or they can draft to fill this need. Delanie Walker is still playing at a high level, but is 32, and Jace Amaro needs to improve his blocking before the Titans trust him with a bigger role.

4. Inside linebacker: The Titans re-signed Wesley Woodyard, and did not go as hard after Dont'a Hightower in free agency as many expected. Still, depth at inside linebacker is a concern, as there are no proven players behind Woodyard and Avery Williamson. The Titans re-signed Nate Palmer, who could fill in in a pinch, but his value is more as a special teams player rather than a having to fill in as a starter.

5. Safety: The Titans addressed this with the free-agent signing of Johnathan Cyprien, but still might add some depth here. Kevin Byard impressed as a rookie, but Da'Norris Searcy's starting role (and perhaps his roster spot) could be in jeopardy, depending upon what is found in the draft. Also, the Titans did not re-sign Rashad Johnson and Daimion Stafford in free agency, meaning that from the standpoint of needing players to compete, adding one more safety seems a reasonable possibility.

BEST FITS

No. 5: CB Marshawn Lattimore, Ohio State: The Titans are armed with two first-round picks, thanks to last year's trade of the first overall pick to the Los Angeles Rams. Having just released Jason McCourty and his $7 million base salary, the Titans have a need in the secondary, even after adding Logan Ryan in free agency. Lattimore is regarded as potentially the best cornerback available in this draft. The biggest question about him has been injuries. The talent, however, seems to be in abundance. The Titans, however, might try and trade down a few slots if there is a pool of players to be chosen from that they like and no consensus at No. 5.

No. 18: TE O.J. Howard, Alabama: Rankings for Howard have been all up and down the first round, depending on which mock draft you look at. It is possible that Howard might be a Titans target, even if they have to move down from No. 5 or up from No. 18. He has the type of size and athletic skills that are becoming a weapon in the NFL, and Tennessee having lost Anthony Fasano in free agency needs a second tight end to pair with Delanie Walker, and to eventually be the heir apparent to the 32-year-old Pro Bowler.

PREDICTIONS

Rob Rang: No. 5: Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State. The addition of veterans Logan Ryan and Johnathan Cyprien help, but only the most optimistic of Titans fans believe they can turn a secondary that ranked 31st a year ago against the pass into an elite unit. Now if a talent like Lattimore was added to the mix, on the other hand, optimism would be much higher. Lattimore struggled with hamstring injuries early in his career at Ohio State, but he was dominant last season, showing the easy agility, acceleration and instincts to project as a future Pro Bowler.

No. 18: John Ross, WR, Washington. With Marcus Mariota's speed and the two-headed monster of DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry in the backfield, Tennessee clearly has a run-first strategy on offense. That said, Ross' incredible straight-line speed would force opposing defensive coordinators to think twice before crowding the box. Furthermore, Ross would add juice to a special teams unit that ranked 20th a season ago in punt return average (7.9) and 26th on kickoffs (19.1).

Dane Brugler: No. 5: Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State. Cornerback isn't the top need on the roster, but the Titans are in position to take best available with this pick and Lattimore would give Tennessee valuable depth at a critical position.

No. 18: David Njoku, TE, Miami (Fla.). Assuming the Titans go with a defensive stud with the fifth pick, the selection here is a good bet to be an offensive playmaker. Njoku, who is still only 20 years old, has arguably the highest ceiling of any offensive skill player in this draft class.

Jim Miller: No. 5 pick is traded and the Cincinnati Bengals step in here to take Jonathan Allen, defensive end, Alabama.

Pat Kirwan: No. 18: This spot is traded to the Denver Broncos, who take Forrest Lamp, OG, Western Kentucky.

Frank Cooney: At No. 5, Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State, looks like a good fit. At No. 18, tight end O.J. Howard, Alabama, is the best at the position in this draft and would be welcomed by QB Marcus Mariota.

Frank Cooney, founder and publisher of The Sports Xchange and NFLDraftScout.com, is in his sixth decade covering football and 25th year on the Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee.

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