Operating as the fulcrum in this year’s draft, the Titans are down to three options with their selection with one of them including a blockbuster trade for Philip Rivers, according to Bleacher Report’s Jason Cole (video link).
Currently housing 2014 sixth-round pick Zach Mettenberger as their starting quarterback, the Titans’ first two options at No. 2 look to be drafting Marcus Mariota or taking Leonard Williams, who Cole calls the best player available at that spot. The third plan features the Titans, whose most recognizable player from a national sense may be Brian Orakpo or Kendall Wright, attempting to re-establish relevance by trading the pick for a veteran quarterback.
Cole goes on to mention Ken Whisenhunt‘s fondness for Rivers during their time together in San Diego in 2013, and that the second-year Titans coach’s choice is “obvious”: trade for a veteran quarterback to attempt to rocket the Titans back to contention after missing the playoffs the past six years. Cole added Jay Cutler or Sam Bradford fit into this line of thinking, but that Rivers is Whisenhunt’s preferred choice in that event.
“Whisenhunt worked with Rivers two years ago, loves Rivers, would love to change the whole attitude of the franchise and thinks bringing in an established quarterback would do that,” Cole said. “Finally, Whisenhunt had so much success with Kurt Warner in Arizona at turning around that moribund franchise that he thinks he can do the same thing in Tennessee and make them an immediate competitive team.”
Although Warner’s best season didn’t come under Whisenhunt, the future Hall of Famer revived his career during Whisenhunt’s first head-coaching gig. Rivers’ best season probably came under Whisenhunt’s watch two years ago, when the former No. 4 overall pick completed nearly 70 percent of his passes and threw for 32 touchdowns.
The Chargers own pick No. 17 in Round 1 and have encountered mild turbulence amid what’s been a stable signal-calling situation for nearly a decade. Rivers’ hesitance to negotiate a new contract with his current deal expiring after 2015 and his potential reluctance to play in Los Angeles make the Chargers an interesting fringe contender in the Mariota sweepstakes. Although Sports Illustrated’s Peter King still considers a deal for the 33-year-old Rivers deal “highly unlikely.”
They are working out Mariota in Eugene, Ore., a day earlier than expected, with Chargers brass set to observe the Heisman Trophy winner Tuesday instead of Wednesday, writes Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Gehlken adds that Mariota ordinarily wouldn’t be permitted by his camp to work out for a team that picks so far away from where he’s predicted to be selected, but several sources informed the San Diego-based writer they think Mike McCoy, OC Frank Reich and others are in Oregon with the possibility of a draft-day trade in mind.
The Titans, however, have many needs and may not be able to bypass a potential young star at No. 2 overall, writes ESPN’s Paul Kuharsky. Despite drafting offensive linemen the past two first rounds, the Titans still need a right tackle after releasing Michael Oher one year after signing him. Needs also exist at running back and wideout. Kuharsky adds the team could release last season’s opening day starter, Shonn Greene, before this year begins.
NFL analysts also believe the Titans should not hesitate to draft Jameis Winston, should Mariota go No. 1 as ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski now believes he will, according to Jim Wyatt of the Tennesseean.
“The latest I’m hearing now from my sources around the league, who are pretty wired in, is that he’s going to go No. 1 now to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers,” Jaworski said during an appearance on Philly Sports Talk.
“Mariota’s stock, remember it was quiet for a while, and there’s a reason for that. There’s a lull every year until about 30 days before the draft. Now the coaches get involved. Prior to that, it’s the scouts, it’s the roadies that are filling out the paper work. Now the coaches get involved. Now team owners get involved. Now general managers get involved. So you’re starting to see, in my opinion, Winston’s stock starting to slide a little bit and Mariota’s stock starting to go up a little bit.”
This obviously remains a fluid scenario between these two prospects and various would-be-affected veterans, but one that should continue to gain steam as the draft nears.