The Tennessee Titans, barring a trade, will be selecting with the 26th pick of the 2022 NFL Draft on Thursday night. The Titans, who watched their season fall short mostly due to the injury to superstar running back Derrick Henry, realized this year that the trenches need an upgrade and they need to protect their backfield better.
Many people blamed the playoff loss to the Cincinnati Bengals on quarterback Ryan Tannehill. I noted after the game that he was not a good person to put the blame on despite his three interception performance. Left guard Roger Saffold was lost to free agency and the Titans need to replace him. They also were not entirely impressed with their first round pick, Dillon Radunz, and believe he would be better suited playing inside rather than right tackle.
All of this means that offensive linemen should be their priority early in the draft, although there are other positions that they could look to strengthen. The wide receiver position could use some help,
1. OL Kenyon Green, Texas A&M
Versatile offensive lineman
A former five-star prospect, Kenyon Green started his career as a stout right guard before moving to left guard in 2020 and then left tackle in 2021. Green can start at any position across the offensive line. Never missed a game at Texas A&M, starting a total of 35 games before opting out of the teams 2021 Bowl Game.
Green has a very stout anchor with an excellent, wide stance and incredible bend. He’s a very capable run blocker, very stout as a pass protector, but is susceptible to an inside move late in his drop. He has a very strong understanding of offense due to his versatility playing four positions in the Aggies offense.
The Tennessee Titans have two holes that they will need to find a way to address on their offensive line, and they’d really like to do this in one pick. The left guard spot, previously held down by Roger Saffold, is now open. However, most people in the organization believe that Dillon Radunz, the Titan’s second round pick last season and their current starting right tackle, would be a better fit inside at guard.
Adding Kenyon Green would give the Titans flexibility to test different lineups and add a very versatile lineman onto their roster. As noted above, he’s started at four different positions on the offensive line (both tackles and guards) while playing at Texas A&M.
The only problem is that, while the chance is slim, he could potentially be picked before the 26th overall selection. Every indication points to Green being the favorite prospect of the Titans and he should be the first option for them on their board.
2. OT Tyler Smith, Tulsa
Starting right tackle
Tyler Smith is an underclassman declaration who has all of the size and athletic measurables for a professional right tackle. He’s big, he’s quick, and he’s a decent run blocker – which makes him a fit in the Titans heavy zone-run scheme behind the legs of Derrick Henry.
Smith is nasty when he gets working downhill. He finishes blocks extremely well, shows toughness and tenacity, and was physically dominant over the American Athletic Conference competition. Smith played left tackle at Tulsa, but certainly looks better suited with his skillset to play on the right side.
Tyler Smith would make a lot of sense to the Tennessee Titans if they want to move Dillon Radunz inside to guard, then Smith is probably the man that they want to draft.
It’s been rumored that Smith is collectively viewed as the “fifth tackle,” the best player after Evan Neal, Ikem Ekwonu, Charles Cross, and Bernhard Raimann. However, some teams like Smith better than Raimann and the Titans appear to be one of those teams. He does fit the Titans schematically and he has all of the skill to play at the next level.
3. G Zion Johnson, Boston College
Zion Johnson has a stout upper body. He uses an excellent stiff arm. He has a strong lower body, helps prepare an excellent anchor. Johnson’s anchor set is very strong. Good plant stance. Strong bend, very flexible athlete. His hand placement is average and he struggles to deal with stronger hand fighters. His issue is that he doesn’t have a counter ready to move to.
I think that Johnson is a very strong interior guy and his potential puts him as a potential pro bowl player. He’s going to be stout when he needs to be and he has room to grow into an even better player.
Zion Johnson has connections to Tennessee directly – his roommate for the last two years in college was Tyler Vrable, who is the son of Mike Vrable. Vrable reportedly loves this kid and has an excellent relationship with him.
Does that make him the favorite? Not necessarily. Johnson would be a great fit as the teams starting left guard. It doesn’t, however, address their desire to do something about the right tackle position. I think that Johnson makes a lot of sense if the Titans were to move back into the early second round – where Johnson is projected to go. I’m not sure that they will move back, but they could feel confident that they can get him later on if they secure an early second-round pick.
4. WR Skyy Moore, Western Michigan
Starting slot receiver
Skyy Moore is a high school quarterback who converted to wide receiver upon his arrival to Western Michigan. He’s been a starter for the Broncos since his arrival, making his first career start in his second game. He’s produced during that time, too, showing all of the traits that you want to see from a slot receiver and may have some flexibility to play on the boundary as well.
He’s a quick burner underneath and it’s easy to misjudge his speed as a defender in pursuit. He’s been a starter at Western Michigan ever since he stepped on the team. His route-running savvy suggests that he could be an elite underneath route runner as well as a strong run-after-catch contributor.
Why would the Titans be looking potentially at a wide receiver?
Rumors indicate that Tennessee is interested in both Skyy Moore and Penn State wide receiver Jahan Dotson. That means that the Titans are looking for a quick slot receiver, akin to the Julian Edelman mold. This makes sense – head coach Mike Vrable is, after all, a disciple of Bill Belichick’s. He’s even been able to outdo the master on more than one occasion – which makes him one of the most dangerous coaches in the league.
The Titans believe that they have acquired their number one receiver in Robert Woods, and want to play AJ Brown as their two. When they get into 11 personnel, they want a quick slot on the field – hence the interest in Dotson and Moore. The issue is that the Kansas City Chiefs reportedly have a lot of interest in Moore and have two first round picks. That means that they have the ammunition to move ahead of the Titans and select him. It’s unlikely that Dotson will be there at 26, and neither player should be there when the Titans make their third round selection.
Tennessee Titans Dark Horse – S Lewis Cine, Georgia
Versatile secondary weapon
The biggest attribute that Lewis Cine brings to an NFL team is speed. His testing results at the NFL Combine put his athleticism off of the charts, especially after he ran a blazing 4.37 forty-yard dash and recorded an 11’1″ broad jump.
He’s a strong tackler and he’s capable of playing any safety/nickel back position. He has the speed to play single high, the instincts to play free safety, and the physicality to play strong safety. Very rarely will you find Cine out of position on the back end. He is capable as a man coverage prospect, especially out of the slot, and he’s a great zone coverage prospect. I love Lewis Cine, and he’s probably my personal favorite safety in this class.
It’s a long shot, but let’s talk about something that the Titans could use.
The secondary has been susceptible at times over the last couple of years. It really seems that since Kevin Byard was paid big money by the Titans, he’s lacked some of the production that they hoped to get out of him. Part of this is because there are other weaknesses to attack on their back end and they could avoid Byard more often than not.
Some of the best secondaries in the NFL right now are filled with versatile players who can play man and zone effectively and mix up their pre-snap looks. If you add Lewis Cine, could the Titans find themselves in a spot where they could
Could the Tennessee Titans trade back?
In a class devoid of much top-end talent, I believe it would make a lot of sense for the Tennessee Titans to move back and gain an extra pick or two. There are many rumors surrounding the quarterbacks in this class. Many teams could be looking to trade back into the first round to secure one and the Titans could be one of those spots that are heavily targeted.
I think that if they believe they can still get one of their guys moving back, general manager Jon Robinson is very open to a trade. Someone like Boston College’s Zion Johnson would make a lot of sense. There’s a great chance that he’s still there at the top end of the second round.
Overall, it looks like the Titans will be picking at the 26th spot and trying to revamp their roster.