Now that free agency (including an extended run at Peyton Manning) and the 2012 NFL draft has come and gone, it’s time to for the Titans to get an up close and personal with their new personnel. Rookie min-camp is set to start on May 11th with OTA coming on May 30th. The Titans needed to address both sides of the ball this off-season and have added pieces to both. The Titans went with sizzle in the first round of the draft selecting the Baylor Bears and former RG3’s top target in wide out Kendall Wright. Many pundits disliked the pick as it was thought the Titans would go after a defensive player. However, Wright has the chance to be big time play maker that can stretch the field and gives Jake Locker yet another target for future years. Yes he doesn’t have blazing speed but he makes up for that as a shifty and quick player, which is what you want in your slot receiver. Tennessee then turned its attention to the defense as they used their next three picks on that side of the ball. Second round draft pick Zach Brown of North Carolina will give DC Jerry Gray’s defense an element of speed as Brown registered the fastest forty time of all LBs in this year’s draft. He has been questioned about his football instincts and passive demeanor but it appears the Titans can live with that. With that being said both picks should come in and immediately come in and compete for playing time as they both fit a need for this team. Third round pick Mike Martin from Michigan should also get a chance for early playing time with his high motor and relentlessness on the pass rush.
In free agency, the Titans made two splashes and then went about signing their own. The splashes include former All-Pro guard Steve Hutchinson from Minnesota. Not a surprising move as Head Coach Mike Munchak has said this off-season that h wanted to make some upgrades to the offensive line. It remains to be seen if Hutchinson can regain his form as he is coming off a concussion that caused him to miss the final two games of the 2011 season. Tennessee’s other key signing was pass rushing specialist Kamerion Wimbley formerly of the Oakland Raiders. The Titans plan to plug him in at defensive end instead outside LB as he has played his entire career in the NFL. The Hutchinson signing should give the Titans an considerable upgrade over guard Jake Scott the Titans let walk via free agency. He should open up a few lanes for Chris Johnson and hopefully get him back on track after a subpar 2011 season. In Wimbley they get a feared pass rusher who had 11 sacks as a rookie and should provide a much needed dose of explosion on the end of the defensive line. In signing their own, The Titans franchised safety Michael Griffin who so far has had a mixed career with Tennessee. His numbers last season were down across the board as he went from 108 tackles in 2010 to 78 in 2011 and from 4 ints to 2 in the same span. Tennessee also brought back safety Jordan Babineaux who proved to be a worthy replacement for Chris Hope. Tennessee lastly resigned special teams captain Tim Shaw, WR Lavelle Hawkins, Tackle Michael Otto, DE Dave Ball, and TE Craig Stevens.
The Titans have to make up for the loss of CB Cortland Finnegan who was one of the key members the defense over the past few years. Finnegan joined former coach Jeff Fisher in St. Louis and leaves a void in the Titans secondary. They are counting on Jason McCourty and Alterraun Verner to pick up the slack for his loss. The Titans also drafted another speedster in CB Coty Sensabaugh of Clemson who ran a sub 4.4 at the rookie combine.
In summary, there will be a lot of new faces when the Titans open up mini-camp on May 30th. They have added pieces in the draft and free agency that should push a 9-7 team that was one game out of the playoffs to be even better. The additions of Steve Hutchinson, Kamerion Wimbley, along with rookies Kendall Wright and Zach Brown give them four new potential starters. They could still possibly add more players in the waning days of free agency and also undrafted rookies they bring into camp. They have bolstered the speed department on the defense and have a couple of new toys on offense. The team is all but set but it remains to be seen how much this 2012 edition of the Tennessee Titans roster will look on his its first game of the season against the New England Patriots on Sept 9th.