As we rapidly approach draft weekend, the positions of defensive end and cornerback have emerged as the Tennessee Titans' biggest needs. However, DE/CB aren't the only spots where the Titans could use some reinforcements.
Failing to replace the production and consistency displayed by former Titan Chris Carr in 2008, the Titans struggled badly on kick/punt returns in 2009. A motley crew of vets and rookies failed to get the job done as the return units went from being a strength to one of the team's biggest weaknesses from '08-09.
There's little doubt that the team will look to address KR/PR by adding someone who is capable of getting the job done with one of their draft selections. Here's a look at ten potential candidates as the Titans desperately seek a dynamic return-man.
Dual Threats: Cornerbacks/Return Specialists
Kyle Wilson is a guy who has been mentioned as a possible target for the Titans with their first round selection. While he's a solid return-man, his specialty is the cornerback position, another area that the team may be looking to upgrade.
Devin McCourty's name should sound familiar: he's the twin brother of current Titan defensive back Jason McCourty. Devin's a heck of a special teams player in addition to emerging as a rising CB prospect.
He's likely to be drafted in the second round and could sneak into the first. Due to the Titans not having a second-round pick, there's little to no hope that their will be a McCourty family reunion in the city of Nashville.
Javier Arenas was one of college football's most dangerous return-men at Alabama. He's projected as a possible third-rounder and if the Titans do decide to venture down the DE route with their first-rounder, Arenas could emerge as a target with one of the team's 3rd round selections.
Perrish Cox rounds out my list of dual threats. According to reports, the Titans have scheduled a meet-and-greet session with Cox in the coming weeks. Though his talent is undeniable, the team could decide to look in another direction due to Cox having some possible character issues.
Of the guys on this list, I like Wilson the most, and that's primarily because of his corner skills: His ability to return kicks serves as the proverbial icing on the cake. Realistically, IMO, considering there's a good chance the Titans will select a DE with their first rounder, Arenas may be the guy likely to end up in a Titan uniform.
Dual Threats: Wide Receivers/Returners
Jordan Shipley was the subject of one of my recent articles. The former Texas Longhorn is already beloved by Titan scouts and would be a nice fit if he's available in the 3rd round.
Trindon Holliday is a diminuitive dynamo who possesses world-class speed. While his efforts to surpass Chris Johnson's 40-yard dash NFL Combine record came up a bit short, he more than impressed prospective NFL employers with his blazing wheels.
Labeled as a football player with track speed, the Titans could be celebrating if Holliday's still available in the mid-latter rounds of the draft.
Dexter McCluster is an all-purpose player who's also set-up for a visit to Nashville in the next couple of weeks. Of the guys in this category, he's probably the one who has the brightest future in regards to his ability to contribute outside of just returning kicks/punts.
As for his return ability, he's a bit inexperienced in that area, returning only four punts in the last two years and being absent from the kick return teams since his second year at Ole Miss.
Rounding out this group is Kansas State's Brandon Banks, who, due to a similar skill-set and size, has been compared to fellow Wildcat alum Darren Sproles.
One thing that stood out on his scouting report that scared me: He has small hands that led to him fumbling four times last year, with three of those miscues taking place on either kick/punt returns.
With visions of the Ryan Mouton debacle fresh on our collective memories, that's enough for me to hope the Titans look elsewhere in their search for a return specialist.
Of these guys, Shipley and Holliday are the players that intrigue me. Shipley could emerge as a nice slot WR in addition to being the team's return guy, while the allure with Holliday is predominantly due to his blazing speed. Who wouldn't want to see Holliday and Chris Johnson racing each other after practice?
Akwasi Owusu-Ansah has a great name and is climbing the boards despite being a small-school prospect due to his abilities on defense and special teams.
LeRoy Vann is also an intriguing small-school prospect. Hailing from Florida A&M, Vann had a scintillating career returning punts/kicks, as evidenced by his NCAA record 11 touchdowns on punts/kicks during his college career.
For your viewing pleasure, here's some YouTube footage of some of Vann's best returns.
That concludes a look at some potential Tennessee Titan KR/PR candidates in this year's draft. Have any opinions about any of the guys I mentioned? Is there anyone that I didn't mention who could fill the team's needs at KR/PR? Feel free to contribute your thoughts in the comments section below.