MMQB Looks at the Draft Needs for Each AFC South Team

David Boclair

As the rush that comes from of the initial wave of free agency fades, everyone’s attention turns increasingly toward the NFL Draft.

This week, SI.com’s MMQB is breaking down each team’s draft needs by division. Andy Benoit rolled out his AFC South analysis Thursday and when it came to the Tennessee Titans, he focused on what was lost rather than gained in free agency.

Benoit figures the Titans’ first-round pick (No. 29 overall) will come down to a choice between a tackle to replace Jack Conklin, a free agent who signed with Cleveland, or a cornerback to replace Logan Ryan, another free agent who currently is unsigned.

Tennessee has addressed Conklin’s departure – at least in the short term – with its decision to re-sign Dennis Kelly, heretofore a backup, to a starter’s contract. No replacements have been imported to fill Ryan’s spot, or that of veteran depth guy LeShaun Sims, who agreed to terms with the Cincinnati Bengals.

“Ryan was an integral part of Tennessee’s nickel and dime pressure packages, as well as many of the zone coverage disguises that define this defense,” Benoit wrote. “… For this to remain a complex defense, it must have a stud in the slot.”

Ultimately, he sees Boise State tackle Ezra Cleveland and TCU cornerback Jeff Gladney as viable options for the Titans to start their drafting.

And he is not the only one. ESPN.com’s Mel Kiper forecast Cleveland to Tennessee at No. 29 in his latest mock draft, released this week. NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein saw Gladney as the likely choice in his latest mock.

Benoit also raises wild card possibility, neither a tackle nor cornerback but a player who already has a unique – and direct – connection to the franchise.

To find out who, and to see the breakdown of the rest the division, check out MMQB's look at the AFC South.

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