NFL Hot Press

Titans Prefer Trade Down for DBs, Tunsil at No. 1 is Plan B

Updated Jan. 23, 2016
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.

The Tennessee Titans feel that they are in a good position with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. The Titans already have a promising young franchise signal-caller in Marcus Mariota, and there are a lot of quarterback-needy teams picking in the top 20. One of them is the Cleveland Browns at No. 2, so if a team wants to get the top quarterback prospect ahead of Cleveland, they have to move up with Tennessee. Of course, trading down is always easier said than done, so the Titans will be prepared to make a selection with the No. 1 overall pick.

In speaking to sources with Tennessee, the Titans' preference is to trade down in the top 10 and target a defensive back like Florida State cornerback/safety Jalen Ramsey or Florida cornerback Vernon Hargreaves. However, if they can't trade down, sources say the early leader for the No. 1 overall pick is Ole Miss left tackle Laremy Tunsil.

Many draft pundits have been projecting Tennessee to take Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa. Sources from around the league have felt that Bosa has been overhyped, and contacts with the Titans agree with that belief. Going back to the preseason before his junior year where his sack production fell significantly, the Titans viewed him more as a No. 5-7 overall talent in a good draft class. Also, sources with the Titans feel they don't really need Bosa. They say the strength of the team was the front seven last year. Jurrell Casey, Derrick Morgan and Brian Orakpo had quality years and the team was very happy with the play of young five-technique defensive end DaQuan Jones. Thus, it doesn't sound like Bosa is a serious candidate to go first overall.

On the other side of the ball, the line play was a different story, as the Titans allowed the most sacks in the NFL. Mariota sustained multiple injuries and ended being shut down late in the year. Left tackle Taylor Lewan wasn't part of the problem and has been a solid player through two seasons. However, protecting Mariota is paramount, so drafting Tunsil and putting Lewan at right tackle could help ensure the durability of their franchise quarterback. Jeremiah Poutasi, who was taken in the third round last year, could be moved inside to guard, and therefore, the Titans' offensive line would have the potential to be upgraded at three positions.

The Titans would love to receive a package of picks in a move down. New general manager Jon Robinson could also take the team in a different direction. Robinson comes from Tampa Bay, and sources with the Bucs have said that Tampa Bay loves Ramsey. Others in the Titans' front office love Ramsey as well.

Right now, Tunsil is the early leader for the Titans if they are stuck at No. 1, but a lot can change in the lead-up to the draft. The team picking first overall could change as well.

Check out Walt's 2016 NFL Mock Draft or my mock draft here. Also see where Tunsil, Ramsey, Hargreaves, etc. are in the 2016 NFL Draft Prospect Rankings.

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Some Teams Grade Shon Coleman in the Mid-Rounds

Updated Jan. 17, 2016
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.

One of the happiest stories in college football in recent years has been the successful comeback of Auburn offensive tackle Shon Coleman. In 2011, Coleman underwent treatment for leukemia, and after beating cancer, he returned to the field without any issues the past two seasons. The 6-foot-6, 310-pounder was a productive blocker for the Tigers and he decided to skip his senior year to enter the 2016 NFL Draft. Some media pundits have projected Coleman to go in the first or second round, but the teams we spoke to haven't graded him that high.

When this draft writer added Coleman to the 2016 Offensive Tackle Rankings, I pegged him in the Round 3-5 range. Thus, I was surprised to see some media pundits putting him in the first or second round. I thought maybe they're seeing something I didn't, so I checked with sources on where they were grading Coleman.

A few teams said they had him in the fourth round. They feel that Coleman is limited as a player. He has great size, but is only just an average athlete. He gets movement in the ground game and his run blocking is much better than his pass protection. They don't feel he can play left tackle in the NFL, so they project him as a right tackle.

Another team had a more optimistic view of Coleman, grading him as a late-second, early third-rounder. They feel that Coleman can play tackle or guard in the NFL. However, they think he should not start immediately and needs a year of coaching to get better before he sees the field.

One could make the argument that Coleman should have returned for his senior year, but after what he went through early on in college, it is definitely understandable that he wouldn't take an injury risk by returning. Perhaps he will go late in the second, but even if he's a mid-rounder, Coleman is an inspiration in what he accomplished.

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James Winston Thinks Jalen Ramsey Can Play Corner or Safety

Updated Jan. 10, 2016
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.

A year ago, Florida State featured a rare quarterback prospect for the NFL in Jameis Winston. This draft writer and some NFL scouts felt Winston was the best quarterback prospect since Andrew Luck and was on a par as a pro-ready signal caller with Luck coming out of college. This year, Florida State has another rare prospect in defensive back Jalen Ramsey.

We caught up with Winston to get his thoughts on Ramsey entering the NFL. It was clear that Winston would love to be reunited with Ramsey. The Buccaneers hold the ninth-overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.

"He's good enough that we probably won't even get him," said Winston. "That's just one thing to talk about, his competitiveness, and his mentality to always want to be great. That is something that is going to take him a long way."

Winston went against Ramsey in practice and watched him play both corner and safety for the Seminoles. After going against NFL defensive backs in 2015, Winston didn't feel that Ramsey would be better off at one secondary position in particular.

"He can do anything he wants to do really," said Winston. "He's so talented in some many ways. He can be a lock-down corner for you like a Richard Sherman, or he could be a safety-corner hybrid like Charles Woodson. This guy is very talented and has a lot of ability."

Winston said that he had some fun battles with Ramsey in practice, and if Ramsey goes as high as Winston expects, they could be going head-to-head next fall.

With a tongue-in-cheek tone, Winston said they had some good practice battles against each other, "Absolutely. I had a good pleasure to play against Ronald Darby, P.J. Williams, [Ramsey]. I most likely got the best of them every single time, but they got some wins."

Ramsey was a star as a safety in 2014. He totaled 79 stops, 9.5 tackles for a loss, 12 passes broken up, two interceptions and two forced fumbles on the year. In 2015, Ramsey moved to cornerback and generally was assigned the best receiver on the opposition. Once again, he was a valuable defender for the Seminoles. He totaled 50 tackles with 10 passes broken up on the season.

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Lions, Titans Should Consider Alonzo Highsmith for GM

Updated Jan. 7, 2016
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.

There have been a lot of names discussed for the general manager openings in Detroit and Tennessee, but one that league sources say should be new general manager for the Lions or Titans is Green Bay Packers senior personnel executive Alonzo Highsmith. The Packers have maintained a talented roster that has made Green Bay a perennial playoff team. Highsmith has been a critical member in the Packers' front office leading Green Bay to seven straight playoff appearances and a Super Bowl Championship in 2010.

Highsmith has been a part of football greatness since he was a youngster in South Florida. Highsmith, a water boy for the Dolphins during the early 1980s, was close with Don Shula's family and went to high school with Mike Shula. Highsmith was a high school All-American in Miami and starred at the University of Miami before playing for the Oilers, Cowboys and Buccaneers. After his NFL playing days ended, Highsmith was a professional boxer and compiled a 27-1-1 record in his pugilist career.

Executives from around the league say that Highsmith has one of the best eyes for talent in the NFL and has played a massive role in assembling Green Bay's roster. Not only do they say that he has a great gift for discovering talent, but he works tirelessly, and is especially good at scouting quarterbacks. Highsmith has played with and has been a part of teams with great quarterbacks going back to playing with Shula in high school. He was a teammate of Bernie Kosar and Vinny Testaverde in college at the University of Miami. Highsmith played with Warren Moon and Troy Aikman in the NFL, while being part of Brett Favre's tenure in Green Bay and was part of the Green Bay drafting and developing Aaron Rodgers into the best quarterback in the league.

Highsmith has learned under some of the best general managers in the NFL over the past 15 years in Ron Wolf and Ted Thompson, so he's ready to lead a franchise in the general manager position. He also learned from coaching greats in Howard Schnellenberger, Jimmy Johnson, Don Shula, and his father, Walter Highsmith.

Highsmith was hired by then Packers Executive Vice President/General Manager Ron Wolf in 1999 to be a college scout for Green Bay. After serving as an area scout for many years, Highsmith was promoted to his current spot in 2012. Working closely with Thompson has given Highsmith a perfect position to prepare for running a franchise.

Sources say that Highsmith has a tremendous work ethic from his time as a player, professional boxer, and area scout. Given his background he works very well with NFL players and is able to identify with them. With his personal and organizational leadership skills, he can get a franchise working in one direction from the front office into the locker room. Everything he does at Green Bay is about winning as an organization, and sources believe he will build that kind of atmosphere in any team that hires him as their general manager.

Last offseason, the Redskins tried to hire Highsmith away, but they were blocked from doing so by Thompson. League sources from multiple teams feel that Highsmith would be a the perfect higher by either the Lions or Titans.

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Blake Beddingfield a Candidate for Titans GM Job

Updated Jan. 5, 2016
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.

After a 3-13 season, the Tennessee Titans started down the path of a new regime after moving on from general manager Ruston Webster weeks after firing head coach Ken Whisenhunt. The Titans are one of the most attractive job openings at each position because of the young talent on the Tennessee roster, specifically a young franchise quarterback. The architect for that young talent is Titans director of college scouting Blake Beddingfield, and there is the possibility that Beddingfield will be promoted to the general manager position. Sources in Tennessee say that Beddingfield is a candidate to be the Titans next general manager.

A year ago, many were projecting Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota to land with the Browns, Jets, Rams, or Eagles. However, Beddingfield had the Titans locked into their future franchise quarterback early in the process. As a rookie, Mariota exceed expectations as he completed 62 percent of his passes for 2,818 yards with 19 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 12 games. He also ran for 252 yards (7.4 average) and two scores.

Sources say the Titans' record this season is misleading as to the superb job that Beddingfield has done. Aside from Mariota, other recent draft picks have shown a lot of promise. Left tackle Taylor Lewan has played well the past two seasons and rookie wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham came on strong late in his first season. League contacts say that while Beddingfield has gone under the radar, he's an excellent talent evaluator and knows how to build up the talent on a roster.

Beddingfield has been a college and pro scout for 17 years with the Titans. Arizona Cardinals general manager Steve Keim worked his way up in the organization over 15 years before being elevated to the general manager position. The Cardinals had some rough years before Keim took over, but with his work in the front office and Bruce Arians leading the coaching staff, Arizona has produced back-to-back playoff seasons. With a good coaching staff and Beddingfield leading the front office, that looks entirely possible in the wide open AFC South.

A lot of the names being discussed for the Titans, Lions, and Browns have been general-manager retreads who were let go from other teams. There haven't been many general managers in NFL history that had success in their second attempts at leading a franchise. League sources say the both the Lions and Browns should be giving Beddingfield serious consideration for their general manager positions, but Beddingfield is a candidate with the Titans and they may elevate him to succeed Webster to prevent him from landing the same job in Detroit or Cleveland.

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Alex Collins "Likely" to Declare

Updated Jan. 1, 2016
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.

Sources tell that Arkansas junior running back Alex Collins is likely to declare for the 2016 NFL Draft. The 5-foot-11, 215-pound Collins was the workhorse of the Arkansas ground attack and shouldered the load after teammate Jonathan Williams was lost for the season. Prior to the Liberty Bowl against Kansas State, Collins was interviewing agents in preparation for likely entering the draft.

Prior to playing the Wildcats, Collins has averaged 5.6 yards per carry for 1,392 yards with 17 touchdowns. He also has 13 receptions for 95 yards. The only opponents that held Collins below 100 yards were Alabama, Mississippi State, and Toledo. It marked his third-straight season where Collins ran for 1,100 yards as a sophomore and 1,026 yards as a freshman.

Sources say Collins improved his blocking and receiving as a junior. In speaking with teams, they like Collins and feel that he has second-day potential in the 2016 NFL Draft.

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