Defense is a big focus for the Titans in this draft, trying to boost a unit that ranked eighth in the NFL in points allowed but gave up yards in bunches.
"When we lose some players like we did this year, we didn't panic and jump out and try to fill it by signing a free agent and replace a guy because we lost a guy," coach Mike Munchak said. "I think our philosophy was that we thought we were happy with what we had in house ... We just felt lthis is a guy that would come in right away and help us in a lot of ways."
Sensabaugh is a native of Kingsport, Tenn. The 6-foot, 185-pound Sensabaugh had 87 tackles and four interceptions along with two quarterback pressures and 18 pass breakups over 52 career games. The cornerback graduated last May and had a team-high 13 pass breakups in 14 starts. He played a school record 993 snaps as a defensive player last season.
He's also second-cousin to Dallas safety Gerald Sensabaugh, growing up on the same street together. Titans secondary coach Brett Maxie coached Gerald with the Cowboys and sees similarities between the men in their intelligence, football knowledge and speed. The Titans' new cornerback was timed at 4.42-seconds in the 40-yard dash at the NFL combine, but he said he was timed at 4.31 seconds at Clemson.
"He taught me everything I needed to know about this process," Sensabaugh said of his cousin, Gerald. "He gave me a lot of advice and walked me through everything step-by-step. He and my agent and my friends who are in the NFL. I got a lot of help from a lot of people."
The Titans return Jason McCourty and Alterraun Verner, and both have started games over the past two seasons. Ryan Mouton is coming back after tearing his right Achilles tendon in training camp last year, while the Titans also like Chris Hawkins and Tommie Campbell, a seventh-round pick last year who stuck on the roster.
Sensabaugh played early in his career at Clemson in passing situations and defending receivers inside. But he started as a senior on the outside, and Titans college scout Cole Proctor pointed out that Sensabaugh allowed South Carolina receiver Alshon Jeffery, the 45th pick overall by Chicago, one catch in a game last season.
Maxie said Sensabaugh will have the opportunity to play inside and outside because he is smart enough to learn quickly.
""The fact that he is such a smart football player, you are not as worried about moving the guy around because he can handle it," Munchak said. "He has already done it and been a good football player in a good system."