ESPN's Mel Kiper Targets Defenders to Titans Early in NFL Draft, While Also Sharing Thoughts on Potential Late-Round QBs


NASHVILLE – The NFL Draft is closing in, and ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. is getting on the defensive when it comes to the Titans.

In his most recent mock draft, Kiper has the Titans taking defensive players with their first two picks.

On a conference call on Wednesday morning, Kiper also provided his take on some quarterbacks who might be a good fit for the Titans behind starter Ryan Tannehill.

The NFL Draft is scheduled for April 23-25.

Kiper, in the fourth version of his mock draft, projected Penn State pass rusher Yetur Gross-Matos to the Titans at pick No. 29. Kiper had the Titans taking Gross-Matos in his first two mock drafts before switching to Boise State offensive tackle Ezra Cleveland in his third mock draft.

Here's what Kiper said about why he switched back to Gross-Matos:

"Tennessee added Vic Beasley Jr. on a one-year deal in free agency, but it should still take a close look at the edge rushers at the end of Round 1. Gross-Matos had a steady but unspectacular 2019 season, putting up 15 tackles for loss with 9.5 sacks. He would likely play end in the Titans' 3-4 defense, but he could play outside linebacker, too."

In the second round, at pick No.61, Kiper has the Titans selecting Alabama cornerback Trevon Diggs.

"Logan Ryan is still unsigned, and Tennessee could use an injection of talent at the cornerback spot," Kiper wrote. "Diggs, a converted wide receiver and brother of new Bills wideout Stefon Diggs, is still raw, but he has the tools to be an NFL starter. According to ESPN Stats & Info, Diggs allowed just 30% of passes to be completed when he was the primary defender in 2019, the third-lowest percentage in the FBS."

On Wednesday morning, Kiper spoke to reporters across the country on an ESPN conference call.

Florida International quarterback James Morgan (12) drops back to pass against Tulane during an NCAA football game on Thursday, Aug. 29, 2019 in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton)
Florida International quarterback James Morgan (12) drops back to pass against Tulane during an NCAA football game on Thursday, Aug. 29, 2019 in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton)

When asked if there's a quarterback who might be a good fit behind Tannehill, Kiper mentioned three quarterbacks he projects to go on Day 3 of the NFL Draft: Florida International's James Morgan, Hawaii's Cole McDonald and Colorado's Steven Montez.

Behind Tannehill, Logan Woodside is the only quarterback currently on Tennessee's roster.

"I think there are some interesting late-round guys," Kiper said of the quarterbacks while speaking on the conference call. "James Morgan to me, from Florida International, is interesting. I like what he did – he's a transfer from Bowling Green. He's a 6-4, 230-pounder with nice arm. He can make the throws, and he moves well in the pocket. He's a guy who is very competitive, very smart, great football IQ, great kid, works hard, loves to study the game, very passionate about the game of football. I like the way James Morgan played, and you get him on Day 3. I think he's intriguing.

"Cole McDonald from Hawaii has some arm talent and he made some really good throws on crossing routes and hit the smaller receivers in stride. So I would say the two that would are most interesting to me would be Morgan and McDonald. Even Montez has a lot of talent at Colorado, but he's erratic in terms of consistency and decision making throwing the football with accuracy.

"So, I think Montez on talent, but you have a lot of coaching to do there, (and) Morgan I like as a late-rounder," Kiper continued. "If I had to rank those three, Morgan would be the guy for me and then McDonald and then Montez. Montez and McDonald basically have the same grade. But I am intrigued by Morgan. I think in the sixth round he would be a really good pick."

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