Less than two months from the annual NFL Draft, the contenders for the No. 1 overall pick seem to be separating themselves from the rest of the pack. While the Tennessee Titans have a number of needs, there may only be two candidates for the top pick: Ole Miss offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil and Florida State cornerback Jalen Ramsey – that’s at least according to ESPN NFL Draft Analyst Kevin Weidl, who joined Sports Night Tuesday evening.
“When you look at this draft class, there are two elite players: It’s Laremy Tunsil and Jalen Ramsey,” Weidl said. “I think there is a significant drop-off after those two players. They both have traits that are all pro qualities – especially Jalen Ramsey, who is one of the best athletes I’ve seen come out of college in a long time.”
Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa had been garnering attention leading up to the NFL Combine as a prime candidate for the Titans at No. 1 overall. But Sports Night’s Floyd Reese doesn’t see that potential out of Bosa at this time.
“I’m just not sure he’s worth the very first pick right now. In my mind he has dropped a little bit,” Reese said Tuesday evening. “For me, right now, it’s between [Tunsil and Ramsey].”
Reese, the Titans’ former General Manager, has been an advocate for trading down from No. 1 overall and accumulating as many picks as possible. Without a can’t-miss quarterback prospect in this year’s draft class, however, the likelihood of a trade may be diminished.
So if it comes down to Tunsil and Ramsey, who should new Titans GM Jon Robinson select at No. 1 overall?
Robinson (and the organization) has stated a desire to protect face-of-the-franchise quarterback Marcus Mariota. With below-average play from the offensive line in 2015, the easy assumption is that Tunsil should be the selection. Some say he has the tools to be an all-time-great offensive lineman, but there are off-field concerns with the 6-foot-5 behemoth.
Another argument against Tunsil is the sheer youth of the Titans’ offensive line. Taylor Lewan and Chance Warmack were both first-round picks within the last three years; Brian Schwenke and Jeremiah Poutasi are still raw. Are the Titans better off spending money on a veteran lineman to help these youngsters fulfill their potential? Or should they pick Tunsil and move Lewan to right tackle?
Ramsey was one of the stars of the combine. Though many experts and analysts debate whether Ramsey should be a cornerback or safety at the next level, he’s a bonafide playmaker and freak athlete – traits the Titans could certainly use in the secondary.
If it were up to Bleacher Report NFL Draft Analyst Matt Miller, he would take Ramsey over Tunsil.
“I would draft the best player in the class. There’s a reason you have the number one pick and it usually means your roster isn’t that good, so I would take Jalen Ramsey,” Miller told Sports Night February 22. “I see Jalen Ramsey who’s going to be all the buzz words – day-one impact, future Pro Bowler, blue-chip player. He’s a special guy.”
It’s incredibly rare for defensive backs to be selected at No. 1 overall. It hasn’t happened since 1956. Some NFL executives are totally against the idea of taking a defensive back that high. But if the player is a perennial Pro Bowler and difference-maker on the defense, why does it truly matter?
Over the last 20 years, defensive backs taken in the Top 5 have had a good track record:
2011: Patrick Peterson, 5th overall, Arizona Cardinals
2010: Eric Berry, 5th overall, Kansas City Chiefs
2004: Sean Taylor, 5th overall, Washington Redskins
2003: Terence Newman, 5th overall, Dallas Cowboys
2002: Quentin Jammer, 5th overall, San Diego Chargers
1998: Charles Woodson, 4th overall, Oakland Raiders
1997: Shawn Springs, 3rd overall, Seattle Seahawks
1997: Bryant Westbrook, 5th overall, Detroit Lions
Six of those eight players have been or were selected to a Pro Bowl in their career. Woodson will be a Hall of Famer one day. Taylor was putting together a resume for Canton before being tragically killed in 2007. Berry and Peterson are two of the NFL’s better defensive backs.
Assuming he were to live up to expectations, Ramsey could become a co-face of the franchise with Mariota given his local ties by growing up in Middle Tennessee and playing high school football at Brentwood Academy. That factor could definitely aid a franchise that possesses a widely apathetic fan base.
Assuming the Titans stay at No. 1 overall, who would you take: Laremy Tunsil or Jalen Ramsey?