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ESPN's John Clayton Weighs in on Titans, and What's Next


INDIANAPOLIS – ESPN's John Clayton has watched the Titans from afar, and he's been impressed.

The team's turnaround – from three wins in 2015 to nine wins in 2016 – was one of the best developments in the league, he said.

Titans Online caught up with Clayton here at the NFL Combine, and he praised the work of general manager Jon Robinson while also weighing in on what might be ahead for the Titans this offseason.

"I was totally impressed,'' Clayton said. "When you think about how Jon Robinson came in and made the moves he made, and now he's sitting there with two first-round picks, the sixth most room for salary cap as any team in the league. In one offseason, he was able to get the running backs that will be there for some years, and he was able to fix the offensive line.

"Now, he has all this cap room and some nice draft picks. He's set it up where they now have the ability to take control of that division. He's done a phenomenal job."

The Titans, who currently hold the fifth and 18th picks in the first round of the NFL Draft, have the chance to add more big pieces in April.

But first comes free agency.

"You know they have to get a cornerback, and they have to get a wide receiver,'' Clayton said. "Can they get both in the draft? What do they do in free agency? Do they address some of those needs first? Secondary help is going to be there. Now Eric Berry is out of the mix. I am sure they would have made a move there if he was available. But they can still get a safety or a cornerback with their first pick, and then they can see if they can land the first or second receiver. I think they are in a good spot to do that.

"But this is defensive draft, and they can use defensive players. They are in a great spot. So what they don't get in free agency they can fill on defense in the draft."

Clayton said Clemson receiver Mike Williams could fit in nicely with the Titans.

"But then you look at some of the free agent receivers,'' Clayton said. "I'm not so sure they'd go after Alshon Jeffery, but it's actually a pretty good group of free agent receivers."

Depending on how things shape up this offseason, Clayton believes the Titans could be the team to beat in the AFC South. Plenty depends on what happens in the coming months with the Texans, Colts, Jaguars – and Titans.

"If the Colts get some defensive players, then they have the quarterback that can do really well,'' Clayton said. "But what I like about the Titans is they have a quarterback in Marcus Mariota who is really good, and they have the offensive line and the running game with DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry.

"So now they have to fill out some spots and solidify things on defense. And if they do that, then they have a chance to maybe be the favorites. I think they go into free agency with a little bit of an edge over other teams (in the division), but that can change depending on how other things go. But now, and this is different from not long ago, they are in the conversation."

Titans GM Jon Robinson, head coach Mike Mularkey make their media rounds at the 2017 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. (Photos: Gary Glenn)

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