Tennessee Titans' draft needs: Carlos Hyde could replace CJ2K

Roster weaknesses: Every team has them, and the draft is often the best way to address them. With the 2014 NFL Draft fast approaching, NFL Media's Daniel Jeremiah will be taking an up-close look at the main areas of weakness -- and the prospects who could fix them -- for all 32 squads in the league. Be sure to catch "Path to the Draft" on NFL Network at 7 p.m. ET Monday through Friday for more in-depth analysis.

In his first year with the Tennessee Titans, head coach Ken Whisenhunt has a decision to make at a position he knows very well: quarterback. Last week, the team predictably opted against picking up Jake Locker's fifth-year option. The writing's on the wall: This is a make-or-break season for Locker. (Just ask Whisenhunt.) The question is whether it's already high time to spend valuable draft capital on a viable backup plan.

How about the offensive weapons surrounding this iffy quarterback situation? Well, Whisenhunt did inherit some solid young talent at wide receiver: Kendall Wright piled up 94 catches for 1,079 yards last season, while Justin Hunter showed great promise in the second half of his rookie season, posting a pair of 100-yard games. Meanwhile, the backfield needs an upgrade. Following the release of Chris Johnson, Tennessee's backfield depth chart looks like this: Shonn Greene, Jackie Battle, Leon Washington. That's not going to cut it.

On the plus side, the Titans are pretty solid in the trenches on both sides of the football.

The Indianapolis Colts clearly sit atop the AFC South at present. Beyond that, the division's wide open. What can the new regime do to get this franchise back in contention? Here are four positions of need for Tennessee -- and some prospects who could fill them:

1) Cornerback

Following the free agency departure of Alterraun Verner, the Titans have a hole opposite solid CB Jason McCourty. Remember, Verner was this team's lone Pro Bowl honoree last season, so the loss certainly hurts. Fortunately, Tennessee picked the right draft to be in the cornerback market -- this is a very deep class at the position. The Titans could address this need immediately with the No. 11 overall pick.

Oklahoma State's Justin Gilbert -- a long, athletic press corner with great ball skills -- would be a great fit. Unfortunately, he might be ticketed for selection by the Detroit Lions, who pick 10th. That's how I see things playing out in my latest mock draft ... Fortunately, another viable option should be there for the taking: Virginia Tech's Kyle Fuller.

2) Running back

The days of CJ2K -- the only NFL back with at least 1,000 yards rushing in each of the past six seasons -- are done. But this is another need that's nice to have in this particular draft. While it appears likely this position won't produce a first-round pick for the second straight year, there's great depth to be mined.

With its second-round pick (No. 42 overall), Tennessee should be able to land either Ohio State's Carlos Hyde or Washington's Bishop Sankey. Hyde has the size to hammer between the tackles as well as natural hands in the passing game. Sankey plays bigger than his 5-foot-9 frame and is outstanding in pass protection.

3) Quarterback

Locker just can't stay healthy. And often, when a new head coach arrives, a new quarterback follows. I think the Titans will pass on QB at No. 11 overall, although I do hear that they're high on Derek Carr out of Fresno State. Jimmy Garoppolo would be a nice option in Round 2. The Eastern Illinois product has a quick release, quick feet and enough arm strength to make all the throws.

4) Offensive tackle

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Left tackle Michael Roos is still playing at a solid level, but he turns 32 in October. Meanwhile, Tennessee brought in Michael Oher to replace David Stewart on the right side. Look for the Titans to add depth with a swing tackle somewhere around the fourth round. One potential fit: North Carolina's James Hurst. He can play either tackle spot, and he also has the ability to slide inside to guard.


So what will the Titans do with their first-round pick (No. 11 overall)? Here's what NFL Media's analysts see happening, according to their mock draft projections (click here for Mock Draft Central):

Follow Daniel Jeremiah on Twitter @MoveTheSticks.

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