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Titans motor toward drafting a DE

With the signing of free-agent linebacker Will Witherspoon you can just about bet the Titans have zeroed in on a defensive end for their first-round pick.

I’m scratching Florida’s Carlos Dunlap off the list right from the start. The Titans have been down the road of drafting players with troubled pasts (read: Pacman Jones), and they won’t be wasting any more first-rounders on guys with “character issues.” If there was a silver lining to Jones, that’s about as good as it gets.

Most mock drafts at this point have South Florida’s Jason Pierre-Paul off the board by the time the Titans pick at No. 16, and it’s possible that Georgia Tech’s Derrick Morgan will be gone by then as well.

[picapp align=”left” wrap=”true” link=”term=Brandon+Graham&iid=6337683″ src=”f/7/6/4/Western_Michigan_v_e0fe.jpg?adImageId=11178394&imageId=6337683″ width=”234″ height=”175″ /]To me that leaves two viable candidates at the position, Michigan’s Brandon Graham and USC’s Everson Griffen, who should be available. Both are sort of tweener size, Griffen at 6-3, 280 and Graham at 6-2, 263. Griffen ran one of the four fastest times (4.66 second) in the 40-yard dash at the NFL combine and tied for first in bench-press reps (225 pounds 32 times). Graham ran the 40 in 4.72 seconds and had only one less rep on the bench than Griffen.

Both were productive college players. The disparity between them is what’s under the hood, according to draft expert Mike Detillier of the M&D Draft Report.

“The big difference is motor,” Detillier told Sportsinthe615. “Graham’s motor is always running red hot. Griffen runs hot and cold.”

The Titans just let go of a V8 defensive end, Kyle Vanden Bosch, who signed as a free agent with the Detroit Lions. For that reason alone Graham has to be intriguing. Here’s another good reason: The player currently in the NFL to whom Detillier most likens Graham.

“I see a lot of the same characteristics as (Indianapolis Colts DE) Dwight Freeney,” Detillier said. “He’s not quite as fast or quick, but he really comes off the edge strong. He has closing speed, and he has good arms and hands to free himself up.

“He’s a relentless guy. He gives you everything he’s got. He was super productive in the college ranks. He’s a guy that didn’t play on the greatest defense at Michigan this past year, but when you watched him you had to be impressed.”

Griffen had some monster games for the Trojans. He also had some games where you couldn’t find him in the stats afterward.

“No question he’s a great athlete, fast, and fluid in his movement,” Detillier said. “But there are questions about his motor. He has flashed big-time potential, but there are games where he disappeared.”

Freeney had a sack in each of the Colts games against the Titans last season. He had a three-sack game against the Titans on Dec. 5, 2004, and a two-sack game against them on Dec. 4, 2005.

Can Titans fans imagine having their own Freeney? It’s sure a nice thought.

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