This week my colleagues and I at hornface.com participated in our 2011 NFL Mock Draft. Each examiner played the part of draft guru by selecting their respective team’s first round pick in this Thursday’s draft.
There weren’t many big surprises, or what most people would assume to be big reaches by anyone in our first round and certainly no major shockers in the first seven selections prior to my pick for the Titans at number eight.
There were several positions of need for the Titans in this year’s draft, and the fact that the lockout has put free agency on hold has also clouded the picture even more. In years past free agency might have allowed the teams to fill some needs that might change, or even eliminate the need to draft a certain position, especially in the first round.
The position of most need for the Titans are quarterback and defensive tackle, and there are some very interesting possibilities in the top eight players, but of course some of them were already gone when the time came for our Titans pick.
So just who did the Titans get in our first round?
Nick Fairley, defensive tackle, Auburn University.
Fairley, who measured 6’4” 291 lbs. at the combine was questioned about weight loss, down from the 305 that he was listed at prior to arriving in Indy. Fairley had dropped weight after the conclusion of the season to improve his speed and quickness. Between the combine and his performance at Auburn’s Pro-Day, Fairley regained twelve pounds to weigh in at 303, and maintained the times he posted in the 40 with a 4.87.
Why Fairley? Well the top quarterback on my personal board was Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert, but he was already gone, as was top defensive tackle Marcel Dareus from Alabama, so the choice came down to Fairley at defensive tackle, or former North Carolina defensive end Robert Quinn.
Quinn, who sat out all of last season due to NCAA rules violations is an elite athlete and a special edge rusher that could have potentially teamed with Derrick Morgan to give the Titans a dynamic tandem on the ends, but there are questions about Quinn’s effort at times, plus the character questions from his suspension along with the Titans need for a tackle outweighed Quinn’s potential.
There are also questions about Fairley since he was a one-year wonder at Auburn, but considering the fact that the Titans hired his former defensive line coach Tracy Rocker from Auburn moved the needle just enough to make me feel safe with this selection.
There also appears to be a deeper pool of defensive ends that I felt would be available for the Titans to select in the second or possibly third rounds than there were at defensive tackle, and the dominance that Fairley displayed last season was impossible to ignore, or turn down.
I should note that I debated seriously with selecting a quarterback at number eight rather than Fairley, but after all my reading just couldn’t reach that far to take him.
No, not Cam Newton, he was gone at number one.
The quarterback that has been moving up the most and is now being talked about as a potential late first rounder and the player that I have thought the most about since his performance in last year’s Rose Bowl is TCU’s Andy Dalton. He is a smart kid, with good ability, doesn’t “wow you” with a cannon arm like a Ryan Mallet, but can make all the throws, is very smart and was a winner at a non-BCS automatic qualifying school.
Dalton is someone I hope the Titans can find a way to draft, but it could well take a trade, either moving down from number eight, or up from number thirty-nine, which is the seventh selection in the second round to get into a position where most “experts” feel Dalton belongs.
So now we sit and wait until Thursday night to see what the Titans, and the rest of the teams will do, and just how close did we come to the real selection, but be sure to check the links to this article for the entire hornface.com mock draft and the articles written by my fellow Examiners on each individual team.
For more about the 2011 NFL Draft, be sure to check out the hornface.com NFL Mock Draft.