Titans focus on improving offense on draft’s 2nd day
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Titans spent the second day of the draft addressing their issues on offense.
Tennessee took Mississippi wide receiver A.J. Brown in the second round Friday with the 51st overall pick and added Charlotte guard Nate Davis in the third round with the 82nd selection. The moves provide an additional weapon and better protection for quarterback Marcus Mariota as he enters the final year of his contract.
“As a rookie, I’ve got to come in and build that trust with” Mariota, Brown said. “That’s going to be big. With him, he’s going to get a complete receiver. Anything he needs, I’m going to be there.”
Tennessee needed to bolster an offense that scored just 19.4 points per game last season. The Titans used their first-round pick Thursday on Mississippi State defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons and focused on defense in their 2018 draft.
The only offensive player Tennessee drafted last year was Washington State quarterback Luke Falk, who went in the sixth round and is no longer on the Titans’ roster.
Brown should provide an immediate boost.
He set Ole Miss single-season records in catches (85) and yards receiving (1,320) while earning Associated Press All-America third-team honors last season. The 6-foot Brown left Ole Miss with a school-record 2,984 career yards receiving while showcasing a versatile skill set that combines size and speed.
“I do a little bit of everything, honestly,” Brown said.
Corey Davis, the No. 5 overall pick in the 2017 draft, led the Titans with 891 yards receiving and four touchdowns last season. But the Titans didn’t have anyone else with as many as 500 yards receiving.
Brown could help in that regard. He considers himself a quality route runner and a student of the game.
“You have to study the game,” Brown said. “You just can’t be a fast guy or a big guy. You’ve got to know the ins and outs. You have to know defenses and things like that. You’ve got to watch football. I watch football 24/7. I watch Julio Jones run routes all the time.”
The Titans haven’t had a 1,000-yard receiver since Kendall Wright caught 94 passes for 1,079 yards in 2013. They added to their receiving corps by signing free agent Adam Humphries but wanted to add more targets for Mariota.
Titans coach Mike Vrabel said Brown made a strong impression during his visit with team officials.
“You just got a sense he was a serious, professional football player,” Vrabel said. “It seemed like he wasn’t about the glitz and the glamour. He kind of just sat down and talked. It felt like we were having a conversation with a guy that was already a pro football player in just his maturity level and how he approached his daily routine, the game, how he practiced, how he prepared.”
Brown said he had a pretty good idea the Titans were interested in him.
“This was one of the teams I thought was going to take me,” Brown said. “I thought a little sooner, but God works in mysterious ways.”
Nate Davis, who is 6-3 and 311 pounds, was a starting tackle at Charlotte last season after spending three years as a starting guard. He should help the Titans upgrade an offensive line that allowed 47 sacks last season.
Tennessee wanted to improve the interior of its line to open up more running room for Derrick Henry, who came on strong late last season and ended up rushing for 1,059 yards and 12 touchdowns.
The Titans signed Rodger Saffold away from the Los Angeles Rams to fill one starting guard position, but the other guard spot remains up for grabs. Davis said his goal is to win that job.
“That’s my goal, to come in and earn the respect of the locker room, the older guys and the vets like that, and just do what I do,” Davis said. “And hopefully I can earn that spot.”
The Titans have one pick each in the fourth, fifth and sixth rounds Saturday. They could still use an edge rusher to provide depth at that spot after the retirement of Brian Orakpo, though they have signed former Miami Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake.
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