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Johnson says he'd take Newton with Titans' first-round pick

The Tennessee Titans are assessing the options for their first-round draft pick, but star running back Chris Johnson knows who he'd take at No. 8.

"Just from watching college football a little bit this year, I am a big Cam Newton fan," Johnson told WGFX-AM in Nashville on Thursday, according to the *Tennessean*. "We don't have Vince (Young) no more, so I feel like another guy like Vince could come in and make plays."

Johnson's wish likely won't be granted. Most draft analysts see Newton, the Heisman Trophy winner out of Auburn, going before the No. 8 pick in the April 28-30 draft.

New Titans coach Mike Munchak is looking for a quarterback, although he said it might not be in the first round. Only third-stringer Rusty Smith will be on the roster when the labor situation is finalized, after which the Titans will trade or release Young, a former starter. Kerry Collins, another former starter, will be a free agent, although he could re-sign with the Titans.

Johnson is holding out hope that Young will return.

"It is not etched in stone that Vince is going to be gone, so I am not sure what they are going to do at quarterback," Johnson told the *Tennessean*. "A lot of things have changed in the last few months, so maybe Vince will be back?

"At first, it was set in stone when coach (Jeff) Fisher was here because he didn't want Vince back. It was an either-or situation then. Now that coach Fisher is gone, everything is up in the air. We'll just see what happens."

The Titans announced in January that they were ending their relationship with Young, the third overall pick in the 2006 draft, and a few days later said Fisher would return as coach. Fisher was gone a few weeks later, replaced by Munchak, but team officials repeatedly have said that the coaching change will not affect Young's status with the team.

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Newton and two other quarterback prospects, Nevada's Colin Kaepernick and Florida State's Christian Ponder, have visited the Titans in the past week or so.

Newton and Missouri's Blaine Gabbert are the only certain first-rounders among the quarterbacks, most analysts believe, but Titans vice president of player personnel Ruston Webster told the *Tennessean* that it's possible as many as five signal-callers could be taken in the opening round if teams start trading into the bottom half.

Kaepernick, Ponder, Arkansas' Ryan Mallett, TCU's Andy Dalton and Washington's Jake Locker are among those who could be drafted early.

"It's interesting, because the first half of the draft, there are teams that need quarterbacks, but in the second half, there really aren't," Webster told the newspaper. "Most of those teams are pretty well set. So a lot of it's just going to depend on people trading on up into the first. "And if that's the case, if teams come up to take those guys, you could have four or five guys go in the first. But if things stay the same, that may not happen."

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