Representing the Tennessee Titans, ejr58 with the 20th pick in Arrowhead Pride's 2012 NFL mock draft...
Last year's mock draft pick seemed logical. My overall disdain for Cortland Finegan and his punk-like playing style coupled with Tennessee's overall lack of pass defense led me to go with a cornerback. Prince Amukamara was the guy. After watching him dominate Mizzou receivers for a few years, I was so high on him I hoped that he'd slip to the Chiefs. I gave a lot of thought to Jake Locker, but ultimately I decided a cornerback from Nebraska would be a much better pick.
Alas, I was wrong. I was extremely wrong. The Titans passed on him for Jake Locker while the Giants snagged Amukamara with the 19th pick. To make matters even worse, he proceeded to quickly break his foot and miss a large portion of the season. The poor guy finished his rookie season with only 14 tackles and a single interception. Granted, you can't grade a player on a single year, but things aren't looking great for Amukamara while Locker got to enjoy a fat paycheck while riding the bench and learning from Matt Hasselbeck.
So now to deal with the question at hand...who should the Titans draft with the 20th pick?
Defensive line is obviously a problem. Even after picking up Kamerion Wimbley, the Titans are still in dire need of some pass rushing ability. Tennessee recorded a measly 28 sacks in 2011. No team can ever have enough pass rushers, especially when Andrew Luck is about to come into the division. But who knows, maybe Karl Klug is the second coming of Albert Haynesworth (surly beast Albert, not fat & lazy Albert) but I wouldn't take that bet.
Linebacker is also possibility. Akeem Ayers had a solid year (76 tackles and a pair of sacks), as did Colin McCarthy (68 tackles, 7 tackles for loss, a pick and a pair of turnovers) but Will Witherspoon is on the decline. Adding another young LB could make this group very dangerous for years to come.
At first glance, one might think it's time to find a replacement for Chris Johnson after the way last season panned out. He never really resembled the back we've known him to be, but there could be another reason for his decline. The Titans interior line was sub-par last season, and could require some new pieces. Steve Hutchinson was added to beef up run blocking, but he's won't be around long.
And then we have cornerback. Despite his scurrilous playing style, Cortland Finegan is a decent cornerback and losing him has to be causing some worries. Since Tennessee will be dealing with the likes of Andrew Luck, Matt Schaub, and Andre Johnson next year, this is the smart route. Dre Kirkpatrick would have been awesome...
With the 20th pick in the 2012 Arrowhead Pride Mock Draft, the Tennessee Titans select Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina.
The more I've researched Gilmore, the more I'm starting to like him, as should Tennessee fans. There might be some trepidation regarding his abilities in man coverage as his backpedal transitioning leaves something to be desired and lacks the straight-line speed to recover from double moves by speedy receivers. He has shown an ability to be quick and aggressive in press coverage, though whether he has the strength to knock an NFL receiver off his route is questionable. While he isn't top flight in man coverage, he makes up for it with his zone coverage. His awareness level and eagerness to understand each defenders role in any play makes for an excellent zone defender. He's shown an ability to explode to the ball quickly - whether on a receiver or coming up to stop the run - and make sure fire tackles, though again whether he has the strength for bigger NFL receivers and runningbacks is questionable.
While his playing style is tough and gritty, he also strives to create turnovers. He fights on every play to strip the ball and with great instincts, hands, and elusiveness, he's sure to make a few quarterbacks refer to the day they threw at him as "the worst day ever". Gilmore will also be extremely helpful in the sack column as he's consistently shown a great burst in corner blitzing and a desire to level quaterbacks from their blind side. On top of all that, Gilmore will also be extremely useful on special teams with his ability to track down ball carriers and evade blockers and even the skills to be strong in punt returns (I'd compare him to Javier Arenas - lacks great speed but is rather elusive).
Long story short, Gilmore has the tools to be an elite corner, but can he capitalize on them? If he bulks up a bit more, I think the answer is a resounding "YES"! He doesn't have any off-field issues, and his no-nonsense take to the position and endless effort will make him a mainstay in the Tennessee secondary for years to come. He may get beat long every now and then but the tenacious attitude he brings to every play will make him an unquestionable star in the eyes of the fans, and maybe the rest of the league.
On second thought...I want KC to grab this dude!
Previously (with approval results)...
9. Carolina Panthers - South Carolina LB/DE Melvin Ingram (Forgot to do a poll)
19. Chicago Bears - Alabama CB Dre Kirkpatrick
20. Tennessee Titans - South Carolina CB Stephon Gilmore