APC Mock Draft 2014: Tennessee Titans Select Aaron Donald

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

We project the Titans to bolster their defensive front with one of the most impressive physical prospects in this year's draft.

With the 11th pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, the Tennessee Titans have a variety of positions that they can address. Today, they are on the clock in our mock draft here at Acme Packing Company, and I will be representing Titans GM Ruston Webster.

Background

In 2013, the Titans entered the season expecting a big jump from quarterback Jake Locker, a resurgence from running back Chris Johnson, and a chance to challenge the Texans and Colts for the AFC South title or at least a solid chance at a Wild Card berth in the playoffs. Things did not exactly go according to plan.

Locker got hurt midway through the season, and Ryan Fitzpatrick was forced to guide the Titans' offense for nine games, including the final seven of the season. The offense sputtered under Fitzpatrick, going 3-6 with him starting behind center compared to Locker's 4-3 record. Johnson did not regain his game-breaking form with any regularity, averaging under 4 yards per carry over an entire season for the first time in his six-year career. Perhaps most surprising about his struggles was that he did not break off a run of more than 30 yards all season long. With the defense playing average ball as a whole, the franchise decided to go in a new direction with its coaching staff.

Enter Ken Whisenhunt, who takes over as the head man. He brought in Ray Horton, the former Browns' defensive coordinator, to head up the Titans' D and lead the team's switch from a 4-3 to a 3-4 front.

So for 2014, Locker returns behind center, a few young receivers remain, and Shonn Greene will take the reigns at running back unless the Titans draft a replacement for the departed Johnson. On defense, the nose tackle spot should be solid with Jurrell Casey's emergence (10.5 sacks in 2013) while the team added two of the Broncos' linebackers in Wesley Woodyard and Shaun Phillips to ease the transition. Pro Bowl corner Alterraun Verner departed for Miami in free agency, though, leaving a hole at one corner spot.

With the 11th pick, we project the Tennessee Titans to select...

Player: Aaron Donald
Position: Defensive lineman
School: Pittsburgh
Year: Senior

After much debate, I found myself more and more drawn to Donald as the pick for the Titans. As I mentioned before, Jurrell Casey appears ready to be a very good nose tackle for the Titans, so the addition of a three-technique end would make Casey even more effective.

Donald is truly a physical freak, as he bench pressed 225 pounds 35 times, ran his 40-yard dash in 4.68 seconds, and put up a top-5 time in the 3-cone drill at the NFL Scouting Combine, all while measuring in at 6'1" and 285 pounds. I will repeat that: he ran the 40 in 4.68 seconds at 285 pounds. That's absurd.

Slotting in at a three-technique position seems like a great fit for Donald, as Packers fans should understand. Mike Daniels, whose size is very similar to Donald's but whose athleticism isn't on the same level, was the Packers' best defensive lineman last year from that position. Part of the reason for that is Daniels' motor and maximum effort, but that is hardly in question with Donald, as he has received rave reviews for his game tape and his performance at the Senior Bowl.

At this point, the Titans would do well to anchor their defensive front with Donald in the first round, then address other needs like running back or cornerback on day two of the draft.

Round One Summary

Pick Team Player Position School
1 Houston Texans Blake Bortles QB Central Florida
2 St. Louis Rams Jadeveon Clowney DE South Carolina
3 Jacksonville Jaguars Khalil Mack OLB Buffalo
4 Cleveland Browns Johnny Manziel QB Texas A&M
5 Oakland Raiders Sammy Watkins WR Clemson
6 Atlanta Falcons Greg Robinson OT Auburn
7 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Mike Evans WR Texas A&M
8 Minnesota Vikings Teddy Bridgewater QB Louisville
9 Buffalo Bills Jake Matthews OT Texas A&M
10 Detroit Lions Justin Gilbert CB Oklahoma State
11 Tennessee Titans Aaron Donald DT Pittsburgh

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