After five weeks of training camp and preseason games, it's time for the Titans to cut some good players, as I predicted two months ago. It's also a time for the Titans to cut some young prospects with a future, as Tom wrote about when he predicted (before the draft) the Titans wouldn't have enough room to keep all their draft picks. Then the Titans drafted an extra player to this year's class, further exacerbating the problem.
One draft pick they are keeping is DT Sen'Derrick Marks, who, based on his training camp and preseason performance, doesn't deserve to be kept. The Titans need to keep four DTs in the rotation and Marks' status as a second-round pick means the Titans will probably have to keep five, which really sticks in my craw. I'll rant more about that in a couple of days. For now, I've got that costing somebody, probably Jason McCourty, a job.
I'm one of those who believe that the Titans' "final" roster may be so for only 24 hours. Like all other teams, the Titans will be checking the waiver wire to see who's been cut and it wouldn't surprise me to see them claim a safety, receiver, nickelback or corner. I'm not expecting them to get lucky enough to find a good corner, like they did a few years ago when Buffalo cut Eric King, but you never can tell.
Drexel is planning to write about that, so stay tuned.
Now, here's my prediction for the not so final 53, presented here as both a depth chart and roster. For depth chart purposes, I've got three players listed twice here, Mark Jones as both a receiver and returner, Ken Amato as a snapper and linebacker, and Vince Fuller as both a nickel and free safety. Don't worry, I only counted them only once apiece towards the roster.
QB - Collins, Young, Ramsey
For more on keeping two or three QBs, check out this article.
RB - Johnson, White, Ringer, Ganther
I'm making the assumption that Ganther's injury last night isn't serious. Henry finally ran hard but it's now his third year. Why didn't he show any of that in the last two years and why wait until facing a second and third-string defense in the final preseason contest? Too little, too late.
FB - Hall
WR - Gage, Washington, Britt, Edison, Jones (also KR/PR)
There are only five receivers here, not six, as the Titans normally keep, and that's mainly due to Jared Cook. He'll not only take playing time away from a WR, he's also taking a roster spot. Jones makes the roster for his return abilities and is included here as well, although I don't expect to see him used much as a WR. If I'm wrong about just one position group, it's probably this one, because Lavelle Hawkins probably makes the team as well. Whose roster spot does that take? Patrick Ramsey's?
TE - Scaife, Crumpler, Cook, Stevens
I expect Stevens to be inactive every week when the first three are healthy but he's in the Titans' long-term plans and therefore has a roster spot.
LT - Roos, Otto
LG - Amano
C - Mawae, Harris
RG - Scott
RT - Stewart, Kropog
I've been keeping an eye on the interior line competition among the reserves behind Leroy Harris. When Matt Lehr was brought in, I thought it was to possibly upgrade the competition, but he was the first man cut. In the end, Fernando Velasco was clearly the winner of that competition, over Durand and Murphy, but I couldn't find a roster spot for him. Part of that is because of Kropog, who, like Daniel Loper, is a swingman who can move inside to play guard if needed.
LDE - Kearse, Ford, Hayes
LDT - Haye, Jones
RDT - Brown, Vickerson, Marks
RDE - Vanden Bosch, Ball
Vickerson thoroughly outperformed Marks throughout training camp and in the preseason games, as I mentioned above. As the fourth DT in the rotation, I had to keep Vickerson on the roster, which cost CB Jason McCourty a roster spot here. Marks will join Stevens in wearing street clothes every week.
SLB - Thornton, McRath, Amato (also LS)
MLB - Tulloch, Allred
WLB - Bulluck, Keglar
The big surprise to some people may be Colin Allred. He's not as good a MLB as Ryan Fowler but he can play all three LB positions and is much better than Fowler on special teams, which earns him a roster spot. Fowler will be picked up by some team needing another MLB and Josh Stamer could be claimed by someone to play special teams.
LCB - Harper, Williams
RCB - Finnegan, Faggins
SS - Hope, Nickey
FS - Griffin, Fuller
NB - Fuller, Mouton
I believe the coaches would like to keep McCourty but he's fifth among the corners (not including the nickels). The wildcard here is Mouton and his injury. If he won't be available for a while, the Titans may need to put him on PUP. If that happens, I believe the Titans have to seriously consider keeping Tanard Davis until Mouton is ready to play. Or perhaps you simply keep Mouton on the 53-man but not the 45-man gameday active roster. Davis could easily be replaced here by a waiver wire pickup.
K - Bironas
P - Hentrich
LS - Amato
KR/PR - Jones
Finally, not that it matters much, but ....That's what I believe the Titans will do. Your turn, guys. Tell me where I'm wrong. Who would you add to that roster and who does he replace?
Practice squad - Velasco, Durand, Hawkins, Morris, Schommer, Tuff Harris, Birdine, King
If Ramsey doesn't make the roster, look for the Titans to pick up a young QB here, like they've done in recent years with Matt Mauck and Ingle Martin.
Note: After attending every open practice in training camp and watching every preseason game (two home games live, three away games on TV) I feel very comfortable in having a good, strong handle on the depth chart, the who's ahead of who in the pecking order, at each position. What I'm not quite as sure about is the Titans' outlook on position vs position in formulating their final 53. For example, if they have to keep an extra DT, at what position group do they cut someone else? Or another example, if an additional special teams player is needed for kick coverage, how much value is that given vs the value of depth at a position group?