The Tennessee Titans' 4-12 record in 2005 was their worst since moving to Tennessee. However, their activity in free agency and direction in the draft showed that they are intent on getting back on track.
Although they weren't one of the most active teams in free agency, the Titans signed four top-tier free agents, who will all start immediately.
The addition of WR David Givens was a crucial step in reviving a receiving core that failed to produce a 1,000-yard receiver in 2005. In fact, Drew Bennett was the only Titan receiver with more than 300 yards while only collecting 738.
After losing center Justin Hartwig to the Carolina Panthers, the Titans quickly upgraded the position by signing former New York Jets' center Kevin Mawae, a six-time Pro Bowler.
Defensively, the Titans added speed with ex-Colts' strongside linebacker David Thornton, who will provide a nice complement to weakside linebacker Keith Bulluck. The Titans also signed strong safety Chris Hope, who is faster than their former strong safety, Tank Williams.
2006 DRAFT ANALYSIS
Round 1, Pick 3 - QB Vince Young, University of Texas
The Titans selection of Young was questioned by experts, but its controversy was overshadowed by the Texans' pick of Mario Williams. While many didn't think Young was worthy of the number three pick, the selection makes sense on many levels.
Titans' management assumed no deal would be worked out with Steve McNair, making Billy Volek the starting quarterback. Volek is an adequate short-term solution at the position, but at age 30, he is hardly the quarterback of the future. If he stays healthy, though, Volek can buy the Titans some time to work on Young's highly criticized throwing motion, and allow him to get acquainted with the film room.
Additionally, the Titans have put together a young core of talent on the offensive side of the ball, which will benefit Young when his time comes -- WR Drew Bennett (27), RB Travis Henry (26), WR David Givens (25), RB Chris Brown (25), TE Ben Troupe (23) and rookie RB LenDale White (21).
Round 2, Pick 45 – RB LenDale White, University of Southern California
On the surface, this pick may have seemed a bit odd with the Titans' already carrying proven running backs Chris Brown and Travis Henry on the roster, but White can provide what those two backs can't — power.
Last season, Titans' running backs averaged only 3.8 yards per carry and found the end zone a measly eight times. Their rushing attack ranked 23rd in the NFL. White may become the Titans' remedy. He scored an NCAA Division I-best 26 touchdowns last season, and gained 963 of his 1,302 yards after contact.
Due to injury issues, White will likely sit out until July, but with Brown and Henry on the roster, the Titans are in a position to take their time with his development. White could end up one of the steals of this year's draft.
Round 4, Pick 102 – S Calvin Lowry, Penn State
With Lowry, the Titans filled a need, as they are very thin at safety. Lowry is a solid player, with good tackling ability and excellent field awareness. While he could play either safety spot, his size (5'11, 200 pounds) indicates he will play free safety in the NFL. Expect Lowry to see some playing time in spots and contribute immediately on special teams.
Round 4, Pick 116 – LB Stephen Tulloch, North Carolina State
Round 5, Pick 137 – LB Terna Nande, Miami of Ohio
The Titans added OLB David Thornton, but the loss of MLB Brad Kassell in free agency made the linebacker position a need in the draft. If Peter Sirmon shifts to MLB to fill in for Kassell, that leaves little proven depth at any of the LB positions.
Tulloch will probably play MLB for the Titans, and will likely see more playing time this season than Nande, as he is a bit more polished. Nande will play OLB for the Titans, but had knee problems in 2004 and suffered a lacerated liver in 2005, missing several games.
Round 5, Pick 169 – DT Jesse Mahelona, University of Tennessee
Round 6, Pick 172 – WR Jon Orr, University of Wisconsin
By his standards, Mahelona had a disappointing senior season, leading to his slip to the sixth round. With good speed for a 300+ pound DT, Mahelona should earn a spot on the roster.
Orr has great size (6'2, 200 pounds), but has questionable hands and route running ability. His speed and physical ability give him an outside chance of winning the number four receiver spot.