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AP photo by Matt Gentry / Virginia Tech cornerback Caleb Farley smiles during the Hokies' pro day on March 26 in Blacksburg, Va.

The Tennessee Titans used their first-round pick in this year's NFL draft to take cornerback Caleb Farley of Virginia Tech at No. 22, a move intended to bolster their defensive rebuild.

General manager Jon Robinson focused on that side of the ball after releasing starting cornerbacks Adoree' Jackson and Malcolm Butler to free up salary cap space in March.

The 6-foot-2, 197-pound Farley announced his decision to opt out of the 2020 season last July because of the coronavirus pandemic. He lost his mother to cancer in 2018 and was unwilling to put another loved one at risk.

The cornerback also had surgery in March to repair a herniated disc just before the Hokies' pro day, though he is expected to be ready for the start of training camp and expressed no regrets about his decision to skip this past season. He also tore an ACL in 2017.

Farley didn't attend the draft in Cleveland because he announced Wednesday he had tested positive for COVID-19.

The Titans are attempting to revamp their defense despite coming off their best season in 12 years, having won the AFC South Division and hosted their first home playoff game since 2008.

Robinson started the process in March by cutting Butler, Jackson and safety Kenny Vaccaro. That made room to sign outside linebacker Bud Dupree and defensive lineman Denico Autry to try to improve a pass rush that generated just 19 sacks last season. Tennessee was better than only the Cincinnati Bengals and the Jacksonville Jaguars in that category.

The Titans also were dead last in the NFL on third down, allowing opponents to convert 51.8% of them. They gave up 398.3 yards a game (28th in the league) and allowed 277.4 yards passing a game (29th).

The one thing they did well was take the ball away. They had 23 takeaways, with 15 players having at least one, helping Tennessee lead the league with a plus-11 turnover margin.

Coach Mike Vrabel gave the defensive coordinator title to Shane Bowen, who called the scheme last season on an unofficial basis. Vrabel also hired Jim Schwartz, a veteran defensive coordinator in the league and a former head coach of the Detroit Lions, as a senior defensive assistant.

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