Jamal Adams, S, LSU
Teams with Franchise QB's don't often get the opportunity to pick in the Top 5 NFL draft. Luckily for the Titans, due to the desperation of the LA Rams to grab an overrated pretty boy as the face of their franchise, the rare position to be a playoff caliber team with a top-5 picks. That makes this an extremely important pick for the future of the Tennessee Titans, and is one they can't afford to miss on, as the correct player can help push the Titans over the hump and into the playoffs.
The Titans needs are actually quite similar in a lot of ways, they have a young talented QB who has every marking of a franchise QB, but who lacks talented weapons in the passing game, a solid offensive line and front seven needing depth, and a glaring need in the secondary. The Titans haven't had a WR eclipse 1000 yards since 2013, and while Mariota and Rishard Matthews are began to develop a nice chemistry, they lack a true #1. As for the defensive side of the ball, while the Titans had the 2nd best run defense in the NFL their secondary was one of the worst finishing the season ranked 30th. The Titans made moves in free agency signing Logan Ryan and Jonathan Cyprian to be the starting CB and SS respectively, but there is still much work to be done. This pick ultimately boils down to two choices: defensive back or WR. Luckily for the Titians they get their pick of the litter.
I love Mike Williams, Corey Davis, and John Ross, I think they are all great prospects and would love to see any one of them in Midnight Green. However, I don't think they are the dominant WR that warrants being picked 5th overall. Jon Robinson is a Belichick, protégé and I fully expect them to stick to a best player available philosophy. Selecting a WR here would be foregoing considerably more talented prospects for the sake of need, and I just don't see that happening here. This pick is much better used on one of the top defensive talents still available and then selecting a WR either at 18 or on Day 2 of the draft.
So with WR off the board we take a look at the defense and three prospects jump out as being worth of fifth overall. Jamal Adams, Malik Hooker, and Marshon Lattimore, and I think the Titans would be ecstatic to take any one of these players, and this pick ultimately comes down to preference Lattimore is clearly the best corner in this draft, and fills the biggest hole left on the Titans roster, but he enters the draft with major health concerns regarding a chronic hamstring issue in high school and college, ultimately requiring surgery, which led to him only playing in 19 games at OSU, not to mention him then getting hurt at the combine running his 40. For me a speed corner with hamstring issues is a major red flag, and with the depth at the Cornerback position, I just feel like Lattimore is too big of a risk to take at 5.
Malik Hooker and Jamal Adams are two very different players. Jamal Adams is the son of a former 1st round pick and super bowl winning* running back George Adams, grew up living and breath football, and has played in every game for LSU with the exception of Week 1 his freshman year, being recognized not only as a tremendous player, but an incredible leader as well. Meanwhile Hooker, was a two sport athlete who only began to focus on football once it was clear he didn't have a future in basketball, and as a result is still a raw player. Hooker is more of a playmaker than Adams will ever be, as he has shown incredible range and ability to go take the ball from a WR, but he is a liability in the run game, often taking poor angles, going low or for an arm tackle resulting in missed tackles. While there is a good chance this can be chalked up to his inexperience and with proper coaching he can become solid in the run game, there is also a chance he remains a poor run defender. And for a league that considered Myron Rolle interviewing for a Rhodes scholarship to be "abandoning his team", I'm sure many GM's are worried about Hooker's commitment to football. I think Hooker can be a great player, but I don't think he fits the mold for Jon Robinson.
Jon Robinson values not only talent, but also experience, hard-work, love of the game, and leadership, just look at last year, the Titans stunned all draft-pundits trading up to take Jack Conklin with consensus top-tackle Tunsil still on the board. Conklin only went-on to be a first team all-pro (although he didn't make the pro-bowl #scrub). Robison values who fits into the Titans culture and scheme just as much as the talent of the player, and luckily for him not only is Adams talented he fits every criteria Jon Robinson looks for.
Leadership: Jamal Adams was the first player in the history of Les Miles coaching tenure (12 years) to be named a captain as a true freshman. From the day he first stepped onto campus, he was a leader firing up the Tigers and making sure they stayed hyped up throughout the game. Robinson and Mularkey are building a smash-mouth football team that is going to beat you up and wear you down, but they lack a leader on the defense. When you look at the great defenses of recent history, they all have that one player who is the heart and soul, that sets the tone for the rest of the team. The Steelers have Jerome Harrison, the Seahawks Kam Chancellor, the Ravens and Eagles at their peak had Ray Lewis and Brian Dawkins. Yes these guys are all-pros & Hall of Famers whose natural ability would make any defense good, but as every Eagles fans knows, these types of players not only make the team around them better, they give the team a sense of identity and ferocity that transforms the defense into something much greater than the sum of its parts. Jamal Adams is going to step into a young football team, and instantly become a leader in the locker room.
Experience: Jamal Adams played in every single game in his three years at LSU save for one, his very first game, which was against a top 15 Wisconsin team. In the draft process there is no such thing as too much information, and with almost twice as much game tape as the other defensive players, there is enough game tape on Adams that you know exactly the type of player that you can get. He also has a history of playing special teams, at LSU, and shown good skills as a gunner and blocking on a return, while you aren't selecting the 5th overall pick to play special teams, knowing he has the skillset and willingness to play is a plus.
Talent: Jamal Adams is not an athletic freak, he checks all the boxes for size and speed, but he isn't going to wow you with speed like some of the other prospects. He does however play fast, he has tremendous football intelligence and reaction speed during the game, he is very good at diagnosing the play as it is developing and getting to the point of attack. He doesn't wait for the play to develop, he puts himself in position to stop it from developing in the first place. Jamal Adams is best suited for SS, but has the range and coverage ability to play FS as well. Adams frequently played as the single-high safety at LSU last season, and played 25% of his coverage snaps in the slot. In fact Adams was the only safety last season to be ranked top-5 by PFF in both run and pass defense. Jamal Adams brings a lot of versatility to the field, being able to play anything from single-high zone to man coverage in the slot, and in today's NFL that versatility is key, and is something Dick LeBeau will have a field day designing defensive schemes around.
I'll end with two stories that I think exemplify who Jamal Adams is and why he will be a great pro. The first is that over the last three years Adams has taken every advantage available of being at "DBU" where alumni such as Patrick Peterson, Corey Webster, Ryan Clark, Tyrann Mathieu, Eric Reid, etc. all come back to LSU to help mentor some of the young DB's, where he has formed relationships to the point where he is reviewing film with guys like Corey Webster and Ryan Clark on a weekly basis during the season. To me this shows a love for the game, a desire to get better, and evidence that he knows the work that needs to be done. The second is when Adams was asked for his favorite highlight he mentions a play from his first game at LSU (1:51 mark of the highlight), where he absolutely destroys a Kentucky player to spring White for a huge return. There is just something to me about him referring to a play he made as a reserve that was more of a highlight for another player just speaks to the quality of character this kid has.
Jamal Adams is a complete safety, he can play the run, defend the pass, and has a great instinct that truly makes him an X-factor. Adams will step onto the field, and help give the Titans the intimidating mentality that Mike Mularkey is looking to establish. Great talent and great leadership are two qualities that are very valuable in the NFL. Being able to get both with one player, is an opportunity the Titans can't pass up. Jamal Adams will not only be a defensive cornerstone for whatever team decides to draft him, but will be the leader and identity of that defense.
2017 BGN Mock Draft Order
1) Browns (JALupowitz): Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M
2) 49ers (sports00fan00): Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford
3) Bears (gubby): Jonathan Allen, DT, Alabama
4) Jaguars (TheWhalwing): Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
5) Titans (drc242): Jamal Adams, S, LSU
6) Jets (boomorbust):
7) Chargers (NowWhat?):
8) Panthers (B-Potts):
9) Bengals (Kiko’s Delivery Service):
10) Bills (jimmyrustler):
11) Saints (NotSoSlick):
12) Browns (Straight Edge Sid):
13) Cardinals (Paulie97):
14) Eagles (ablesser88):
15) Colts (mconner96):
16) Ravens (The Man, The Myth, the Matthews!):
17) Washington (kbruneault):
18) Titans (mchiodo):
19) Buccaneers (ei78):
20) Broncos (NVEaglesShark):
21) Lions (Shark Fighter):
22) Dolphins (J. Wil):
23) Giants (BigWardy59):
24) Raiders (big DUB):
25) Texans (GotFunds):
26) Seahawks (Rogmcc23):
27) Chiefs (B1G Cat):
28) Cowboys (RegalEagle):
29) Packers (Wutang_):
30) Steelers (General_Lee12):
31) Falcons (SirJon):
32) Saints (Huffs_cellmate):