|NFL DRAFT: Titans go defense with Texas safety as top pick|
|Written by Admin|
|Saturday, 28 April 2007 11:42|
Tennessee used the 19th pick overall Saturday on Texas safety Michael Griffin, choosing to wait before addressing major offensive holes at wide receiver and running back. Coach Jeff Fisher said they loved Griffin's versatility and thinks he can be their third cornerback as a rookie.
``Our plans with Michael are to play him at a number of different positions. Safety, nickelback, corner. But he is a football player, and we're very excited to have an opportunity to have drafted him,'' Fisher said.
The Titans still had major needs after losing receivers Drew Bennett and Bobby Wade to free agency. They cut Travis Henry rather than pay an $8 million bonus even though he ran for 1,211 yards last season.
Tennessee has been talking with San Diego about trading for LaDainian Tomlinson's backup, Michael Turner, and Fisher said they had conversations involving the 19th pick.
``There's still some scenarios regarding that,'' Fisher said of a potential trade.
But Jones, a cornerback, was the best player on the Tennessee defense, and his suspension by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell left a gaping hole on a unit that gave up 369.7 yards per game. Jones can't even ask to return until after the Titans play at Denver on Nov. 19.
So the Titans had to address the secondary.
They already had signed free agent cornerback Nick Harper away from the Super Bowl champion Indianapolis Colts, their AFC South rival, who should replace Jones at starter. They also have Reynaldo Hill, who has started 24 of 30 games since being a seventh-round draft pick in 2005, and Cortland Finnegan.
The Titans have five safeties on the roster led by starter Chris Hope with Vincent Fuller and Calvin Lowry taken in the previous two drafts. But Tennessee uses a third cornerback on the field enough that Fisher considers the nickelback as a third starter.
``He'll fill in where needed,'' Fisher said of Griffin.
The Titans started to worry after watching LaRon Landry, Darrelle Revis and Leon Hall go off the board that Griffin might not be there when they selected. This is the third time since 2003 the Titans have used their first-round pick on a defensive back and fourth in franchise history.
``We're very excited,'' Fisher said.
Griffin played free safety in 2006, but the 5-foot-11, 202-pounder said he also had to know all four spots in the secondary at Texas where he previously backed up Michael Huff. He had eight interceptions, recovered seven fumbles and had four sacks. He also blocked six punts on special teams.
He had visited the Titans, but he said he was very shocked when Tennessee drafted him. This will reunite him with former Longhorns teammate and current Titans quarterback Vince Young.
``Hopefully, ... we get to make the plays we did in the Rose Bowl. Hopefully, we can bring a championship to Nashville,'' Griffin said.