NASHVILLE – These are changing times in the NFL, and ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper has made some changes as well.
In his first two mock drafts for ESPN, Kiper twice gave the Titans Penn State defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos with the 29th overall pick in next month's NFL Draft.
Kiper has not only switched players for the Titans in his Mock Draft 3.0 – he's switched sides of the football.
Kiper now has the Titans selecting Boise State offensive tackle Ezra Cleveland at No.29.
On a conference call on Wednesday, Kiper discussed his Cleveland-to-Tennessee pick.
"Cleveland had a great combine on the heels of a really good career as a left tackle," Kiper said. "Now I projected him to Tennessee -- he'd be a right tackle there, taking over for Jack Conklin who moved on to (the Browns) in free agency. I think (Cleveland) is a guy who has moved up – I have him in the late first, and I think at worst he is an early second (round) pick. I think right now, when you stack the offensive tackles on the board, he's moved to the point where he's the sixth guy, at worst the seventh or eighth. … I have him at sixth, which puts him in the late first (round)."
In his Mock Draft 3.0, which was released on Tuesday on espn.com, Kiper went into even more detail when discussing his pick at No.29. He took into consideration some early developments in free agency while projecting Tennessee's needs.
After Conklin departed for the Browns, the Titans re-signed veteran tackle Dennis Kelly to a multi-year deal.
"After Cleveland's excellent combine performance in which he ran a 4.93 40 (third-fastest among offensive linemen) and looked great in the agility drills, I went back to the tape to study him," Kiper wrote. "And what I saw was a left tackle who I was underrating. A three-year starter for the Broncos, Cleveland isn't just a workout wonder — he was a great tackle in the Mountain West. The Titans are set at left tackle with Taylor Lewan, of course, but with right tackle Jack Conklin departing in free agency, Cleveland could compete with former swing tackle Dennis Kelly, who was re-signed. Tennessee added Vic Beasley Jr. last week, but I wouldn't be shocked to see them add another edge rusher here."
The Beasley deal mentioned by Kiper hasn't officially been announced by the Titans.
The NFL Draft is scheduled for April 23-25.