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Six Hot Topics with John Clayton, From Titans QB Marcus Mariota to the AFC South to the NFL Draft

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NASHVILLE – Veteran sportswriter and radio and television personality John Clayton makes his home in Seattle, but he's in tune with the Titans and the rest of the NFL.

At the NFL owners meetings last week, Titans Online spoke to Clayton about a number of topics, from the Titans to the NFL Draft to the AFC South.

Clayton's thoughts on six topics …

On what the Titans have done in free agency …

"It's funny I had (former Tampa Bay receiver) Adam Humphries going to Indianapolis, but they ended up taking Devin Funchess. I think Humphries in the slot is going to work out well for the Titans. Rodger Saffold was a tough one to lose for the Rams. He played at a really high level, and he had been there for a long time. But they just couldn't afford to keep him. I thought initially he was going to get about $7 million or $8 million per year and he gets to $11, which is deserved in my mind, so he's a good one. (Former Dolphins DE) Cameron Wake is kind of interesting because even though he is 37 -- it is almost like the Arizona move with Terrell Suggs, in the sense you get an older guy but they still can play. So I think it has been a pretty good offseason for the Titans."

On the future of Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota …

"I think he is going to be fine and I think he is going to get the contract extension. I guess we have to define what make-or-break is. … They still need to get the most out of him. The way Derrick Henry came on late in the season, I think that helps. He needs better blocking from the offensive line but you know how smart he is, how talented he is. … I don't know if they can break in and make the playoffs because, if they don't make the playoffs, it is only because Houston and Indy have done better."

On the AFC South …

"You look at this division and you know how bad it was a few years ago. It was one of the worst in the league, and now just about everybody has a quarterback. We'll see how Nick Foles does in Jacksonville. Indianapolis is building up big-time. I mean absolutely big-time – they are going to be good. In Houston, Deshaun Watson is fantastic, so if somewhere down the line they can get the offensive line right, there's a Super Bowl or two in him. … The one thing I think you are seeing is there's an arms race in this division and you have to stay up with the arms race. Here's the Colts, they have the most cap room of any team in the league, and they are still going to be adding. They fixed their offensive line in a year. I think the disappointment for me (in 2018) more than anything else for the Titans was their offensive line. I thought two years ago they had that thing solved – I thought that thing was as solid as Indianapolis' (o-line) is right now, so they have to get back to that. … In my opinion, the team to beat right now is the Indianapolis Colts. I say that because right now Houston has major defects on the offensive line. Defensively they're fine, but they have to fix their offensive line. Jacksonville is the team that nobody talks about right now because they were so bad on offense with Blake Bortles, but Nick Foles should make them better on offense and they still have a lot of talent on defense."

On what should the Titans do at Pick 19 in the NFL Draft…

"Jon Robinson is smart, and he knows how to play the draft. He knows the strengths of the draft. So what's he done this offseason? He gets a guard, and he gets a wide receiver. There seems to be a good concentration on offense, and so I would imagine they would lean toward defense. Initially I was thinking they'd lean toward wide receiver, but that's now not necessarily in the mix. So I think it's going to probably be somebody on the defensive line, and maybe somebody to be a pass rusher. But I think it's going to be more defense that anything else."

On how the Titans should handle Derrick Henry in 2019 …

"I think you just try and pound the ball as best you can. Make sure the run-blocking is going to be there, and just try and make it easy so you can have Mariota try and get some play-action passes and move him around. And also, just try and take some presser off Mariota so he doesn't have to run more and get injured. I mean that is the one knock that he has, is: Can he get through a 16-game season without getting injured? So if they can get Henry going early and going late, that takes the pressure off of Mariota trying to run the ball.

On the NFL Draft in Nashville…

"I think it will be great. In Chicago, when they moved it there, did a fantastic job. Then they went to Philadelphia, and they did a fantastic job. And you know the hospitality in Nashville is going to be great. I think the fact that everything is going to be all downtown, walking area and all that stuff, I would anticipate it is going to be fantastic. … It is such a nice downtown area, and the hospitality is just fantastic."

TitansOnline.com looks back at some of the team's #1 draft picks over the years. (AP Photos)

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