NFL Tennessee Titans

2014 NFL Draft: 5 Late-Round Sleepers the Tennessee Titans Should Target

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2014 NFL Draft: 5 Late-Round Sleepers the Tennessee Titans Should Target

2014 NFL Draft Tennessee Titans
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

After a 7-9 finish last season and their fifth consecutive year without a postseason appearance, the Tennessee Titans fired coach Mike Munchak and replaced him with a Super Bowl coach in Ken Whisenhunt. The Titans will have serious questions to face this offseason. Is Jake Locker the answer as the franchise quarterback? Will Chris Johnson get back to his elite days as Tennessee's feature running back? Finally, the most important question of all, will the Titans get back to the postseason in 2014?

Two streaks of three consecutive losses dampened any chances of the Titans reaching the postseason in 2013. For the Titans to get back to the playoffs for the first time since 2008, the team will have to draft great players, especially in the later rounds, to improve their 19th ranked offense and their 16th ranked defense.

Not only did the Titans address their coaching vacancy, but the team will also be looking to address their new ownership situation as longtime owner Bud Adams died last year. With uncertainty in the front office, the on-field product will have to improve in 2014. The Titans will also have several player issues they must address. Both Bernard Pollard and Alterraun Verner are free agents this offseason on defense as is receiver Kenny Britt on offense.

With most analysts focusing on what happens in the first to third rounds, teams become great with what they do in the later rounds. Just ask the Seattle Seahawks last year, a team that had several key defensive players who were drafted in the fourth round or later with the Super Bowl MVP being drafted in the seventh round. For the Titans, the franchise has made some solid picks in the later rounds of the draft. Players like Ken Houston, Cortland Finnegan, Blaine Bishop and Cris Dishman all were late picks who would become great players for the Titans, so the team has had some success finding diamonds in the rough.

Looking at this year's draft prospects, I identified five late-round sleepers that the Titans should target during the 2014 NFL Draft. Each of these players are going to be day three picks at least with each having a skill-set that fits Tennessee, and all of these players would play a crucial role for the organization in the near future should they be selected by the Titans.

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5. David Fales, QB, San Jose State

David Fales
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

With Locker, a former first-round pick in 2011, coming off a significant hip injury and Ryan Fitzpatrick proving ineffective last year as a backup last year, the Titans need to find a quarterback who can develop into a capable player. The Titans should look no further than San Jose State QB David Fales.

Fales faded in relative obscurity for most of the season due to the lack of exposure at San Jose State, but he has the skill-set to be a solid NFL quarterback. Fales defeated Fresno State's Derek Carr in a shootout as Fales threw for over 500 yards and six touchdowns to give the Bulldogs their only loss of the season, proving that he can play in the big-time games.

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4. De'Anthony Thomas, WR, Oregon

De'Anthony Thomas
Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

What the Titans lacked on their team last year was an explosive player on the perimeter who could break a big play at any point in a game. In Oregon's De'Anthony Thomas, the Titans would get a long needed playmaker whose explosiveness and big-play ability would force opposing coordinators to game plan around what Thomas can do.

Although Thomas split time in Oregon as a running back and a wide receiver, he was proficient in both roles. Thomas scored 26 times on the ground and 15 times through the air. What will ultimately help the Titans is his ability to produce in the return game. In 89 career returns, the former Duck scored five touchdowns.

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3. Lamin Barrow, LB, LSU

Lamin Barrow
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Middle linebacker is a position of need for the Titans, whether they want to admit it or not. Last year, the team tried both Moise Fokou and Colin McCarthy in the middle, but neither of them were impact players.

In LSU's Lamin Barrow, the Titans get a versatile linebacker who can both inside and outside, and Barrow would be effective in either role. He replaced a former second-round pick from LSU in Kevin Minter, and the Tigers' defense didn't miss a beat in 2013.

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2. Michael Schofield, OL, Michigan

Michael Schofield
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The Titans' tackle situation is a mess right now. Both Michael Roos and David Stewart are getting up there in age and in salary. While the Titans are predicted to draft an offensive lineman in the first round, and another offensive lineman on the edges would help the team immensely.

With the team addressing their interior offensive line last year with Andy Levitre and Chance Warmack, now is the next step is to upgrade the edge protectors. In Michigan's Michael Schofield, the Titans would get a lineman who is one of the more underrated players in this year's offensive line class.

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1. Ricardo Allen, DB, Purdue

Ricardo Allen
Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

A good player who was stuck on some awful teams in Purdue, cornerback Ricardo Allen is an underrated player who will get overlooked in this year's draft but shouldn't. In Allen's four seasons in West Lafayette, the corner had 250 tackles, showing that he's not afraid to tackle. Allen was also a playmaker with 13 career interceptions, but more importantly, four of these were returned for touchdowns, showing that he can turn defense into offense.

With the Titans having plenty of decisions to make regarding their secondary this offseason, a player like Allen would be a great value pick late in the draft who has shown that he has the abilities to be an NFL-caliber corner.