Round 1 of the 2010 NFL draft is in the books. The Titans took Derrick Morgan with the 16th overall pick, but I thought I'd also share my thoughts on the 1st round picks of the Titans' 2010 opponents, starting with the divisional foes.
Jacksonville Jaguars, Cal DT Tyson Alualu, 10th overall: Probably the biggest surprise pick of the night, as Alualu was considered at highest a borderline 1st/2nd round pick and a tweener between the 3-4 he played in in college and the 4-3 the Jaguars have (sensibly) returned to as their base defense. He'll probably be the penetrating under tackle role, akin to what Jason Jones was doing this year before he got hurt. If Alualu works out as expected, the Titans interior offensive linemen will have their hands full over the next half decade or more dealing with him and massive run stopper Terrance Knighton, who had a fine rookie season. This pick also makes DT mainstay John Henderson pretty expendable, and he could be dealt as soon as tomorrow during the 2nd or 3rd round.
Houston Texans, Alabama CB Kareem Jackson, 20th overall: Another mini-surprise pick, as the Texans bypassed Kyle Wilson and Devin McCourty to take Jackson. It fit a clear need, as the Texans were thin at corner after losing Dunta Robinson and Glover Quin's future may be instead at free safety. Jackson's considered excellent in press coverage and very good in zone coverage, so he sounds more like a cover-2-type corner. He ran well at the combine, but that apparently didn't match the tape and he's considered more quick than fast. I'd guess Houston may be playing more zone this year.
Indianapolis Colts, TCU DE Jerry Hughes, 31st overall: The Colts replace the DE depth they lost when Raheem Brock left as a free agent. Like Alualu, Hughes was considered a 3-4 OLB/4-3 DE tweener, but the Colts are a team that won't care about his lack of size as neither Freeney nor Mathis is very big. With Brock gone and Freeney and Mathis getting older and injured this past season, Hughes definitely fits a need and with great initial quickness and lack of size fits right in. For more, see the prospect profile Andrew did.
Welcome to Nashville, Derrick Morgan.
With their first-round selection, the Tennessee Titans filled their need at the DE position by picking up perhaps the draft's most well-rounded pass rusher.
While he may not possess the "upside" of Jason Pierre-Paul, Morgan more than makes up for it with his solid combination of size, athleticism and the ability to play the run.
Apparently the time to sign an extension with the Tennessee Titans is right before the draft. Two years ago, it was LT Michael Roos inking a 7 year, $43 million dollar deal. This year, it seems to be restricted free agent DT Tony Brown with a 3 year deal. Brown's agent notes that the deal isn't quite done, but should be finalized soon so I'll consider it as though it's done.
Without knowing any of the financial terms, it's tough to evaluate this deal, but I will say I'm surprised this happened. The Titans gave Brown a 1st round tender this offseason, so if he signed that he would have earned $2.621 million. With Brown's new deal, the Titans now have 4 defensive tackles signed for the next 2 seasons and 3 of them signed for the next 3 seasons. That seems like an unusually stable future, though one with a potentially troubled ending, with the prospect of turning over the top 3 DTs in a single season. Teams like stability, but normally tend to try to avoid undergoing that sort of potential roster flux.
Note also that even though Brown only has 5 years of NFL service, he's not exactly young, turning 30 at the end of September. 32 is not particularly old for a defensive tackle, but his play will probably not ever be better than it was last year or this year, and NFL teams don't normally commit to non-elite players soon to be on the wrong side of 30. For that reason, beyond the basic financial terms, I'll be very interested to see the actual structure, and if it's a normal 3 year deal or more of a front-loaded one like Will Witherspoon's.