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ESPN's Mel Kiper Has Titans Taking a RB in 1st Round of Draft


NASHVILLE, Tenn. – In the 2006 NFL Draft, the Titans drafted a running back out of the University of Southern California.

Could they do it again in this year's draft?

Well, ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. thinks so. But he also has some other options for the Titans in the 2018 draft.

Kiper released his second 2018 NFL Mock Draft (2.0) on Wednesday, and he has the Titans picking USC running back Ronald Jones II with the 25th overall pick. The Titans, if you remember, took USC's LenDale White in the second round of the 2006 draft.

But on a conference call on Wednesday, Kiper also mentioned LSU running back Derrius Guice as a possibility at No.25 in fielding a question from Titans Online.

"Either Derrius Guice from LSU or Ronald Jones would be two (options), and I gave Guice to the Detroit Lions at No. 20, and that allowed Jones to get down there at 25 (for the Titans)," Kiper said. "Obviously with DeMarco Murray's status, we'll see if he comes back. And then you have (Derrick) Henry, and a nice complement to Henry would be Ronald Jones II. He had a great year at USC, he's a smooth runner, and he is versatile as well."

In his Mock Draft 2.0, Kiper based his selection on the team's current landscape at running back, making the assumption that Henry will be the team's "primary back" in 2018. But Murray remains under contract with the team, along with Henry.

"New offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur spent time with the Falcons (2015-16) and Rams (2017), who both used their backs a lot in the passing game, and Jones could be a complementary back who helps there," Kiper wrote in his mock draft 2.0. "He caught only 14 passes last season, but he has a lot of tools with which to work and has a lot of talent after the catch. I also thought about center or guard here, as the Titans need to upgrade the interior of their line."

Jones ran for 3,619 yards and 39 touchdowns at USC, including 1,550 yards and 19 touchdowns last season. He caught 14 passes for 187 yards and a touchdown last season for the Trojans.

Guice ran for 3,074 yards and 32 touchdowns in his career at LSU, including 1,251 yards and 11 touchdowns last season. He caught 18 passes for 124 yards and two touchdowns last season at LSU.

Kiper has Georgia running back Sony Michel listed as the draft No.3 running back, behind Penn State's Saquon Barkley and Guice, and ahead of Jones (4th) and San Diego State's Rashaad Penny (5th). But on the conference call, he mentioned "ball security" as something Michel needs to clean up in the NFL.

On the conference call, Kiper said "it's a really good" draft for running backs. Kiper said there's debate on whether Guice or Jones will be the second running back taken.

"And then you fall in with Sony Michel, Rashaad Penny and Nick Chubb from Georgia," Kiper said. "And a guy I like is Nyheim Hines from N.C. State. He caught the ball, is a kick/punt returner, has good speed and a good year running the football. And Mark Walton (from Miami, Fla.) – unfortunately he had the injury, but he would have been a second-round pick had it not been for the injury, and then Royce Freeman from Oregon.

"So there's some really good backs that you can pick up in the middle rounds."

In his initial mock draft, Kiper gave the Titans Boston College linebacker/defensive end Harold Landry. In his second mock draft, Kiper doesn't have Landry going in the first round of the draft.

Kiper also previously mentioned Austin Corbett, a center/guard out of Nevada, and Will Hernandez, a guard out of UTEP, as "wild card, curveball-type picks" for the Titans.

But he's going with Jones for the Titans, at least for now.

"I think it would be a nice pick over a player like Landry who is not a guaranteed first round pick," Kiper said. "He is more of a two right now."

The NFL Draft is scheduled for April 26-28 in Arlington, Texas. looks back at some of the team's #1 draft picks over the years. (AP Photos)

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