NASHVILLE, Tenn. – ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. does his homework. He likes the thought of bookends for the Titans on the offensive line.
That's why Kiper thinks the Titans should pick Ole Miss tackle Laremy Tunsil in the upcoming NFL Draft.
The Titans have the first overall pick after selecting quarterback Marcus Mariota second overall in last year's draft.
"He is certainly viable as the No.1 player on the board,'' Kiper said of Tunsil on a conference call Monday morning. "He is right in that discussion to be the No.1 player in the draft, just by ratings. By need, it is definitely a need, because you have to protect Marcus Mariota. You have (Taylor) Lewan who could move (from left tackle) to right tackle, and now you would bring in Tunsil and you would have tremendous young bookends.
"So I think you go to the player that does and will impact the quarterback who is your franchise, which is Mariota. So to me that is the direction you can go from a ratings standpoint, as well as from a needs standpoint."
Kiper initially had the Titans picking Ohio State defensive lineman Joey Bosa in his first mock draft, which was released in mid-January. Tunsil has been a popular pick for the Titans in mock drafts, along with Bosa. Others have Florida State defensive back Jalen Ramsey headed to Tennessee.
In 28 career games as the Rebels' left tackle, Tunsil (6-5, 305) was responsible for only two sacks allowed.
Kiper said Bosa's stock is slipping. But he likes Ramsey and Oregon defensive lineman DeForest Buckner as potential No.1 picks. Kiper called Buckner a rare talent who is a top five pick, and a good fit for 3-4 defenses, something he's not sure about with Bosa. He believes Ramsey is a cornerback in the NFL, but believes he could play safety as well.
"Jalen Ramsey would be in that mix as well, DeForest Buckner, those are the guys who are vying for the No.1 spots on boards,'' Kiper said. "So (Tunsil) is right in that discussion to be the No.1 player in the draft, just by ratings.
"Bosa's stock has dropped a bit and plus he does not fit them perfectly."