How could the top of the 2022 NFL Draft play out for the Tennessee Titans?
With the first round Thursday, The Tennessean projected the Titans’ top pick in three different scenarios: staying put, trading back and trading up from pick 26. Here’s the breakdown, with analysis:
If the Titans stay put
WHO THEY’LL SELECT AT NO. 26: Kenyon Green, guard, Texas A&M
MEASURABLES: 6-foot-4, 323 pounds.
2021 STATS (12 games): Starts at left guard (7), right guard (2), right tackle (2), left tackle (1)
Titans general manager Jon Robinson has stressed that need isn’t the priority in the team’s draft strategy. Tennessee also prioritizes best available – prospects who are the best for the team, regardless of position, because it never knows when it may need the player.
But when need and best available align, “It’s a really cool thing,” Robinson said last week.
That’s what Green could be.
The Titans need a starting left guard after releasing Rodger Saffold this offseason. Green has the potential to be a Day 1 starter – and he has the versatility to play all over the offensive line, including right tackle, where Tennessee also has a vacancy after declining to tender David Quessenberry, now with the Bills.
Several draft evaluators rank Green in the 20s among all prospects, which means he could be available to the Titans at 26.
If the Titans trade down
WHAT’S THE DEAL?: Titans trade the No. 26 to the Kansas City Chiefs for Nos. 30 and 121 (fourth round).
THE PICK AT NO. 30: Jahan Dotson, wide receiver, Penn State.
MEASURABLES: 5-11, 178 pounds.
2021 STATS (12 games): 91 receptions, 1,182 yards, 12 TDs
The Titans want more receivers who can win against man coverage, and Dotson checks that box. His polished route running and ball skills, despite his smaller stature, made him one of college football’s most dangerous receivers. Of his 25 career touchdowns, 10 were for 40 or more yards and six were 60 or more yards.
While his size may put him at a disadvantage as a blocker, a big responsibility for Titans’ receivers, Dotson brings value as a punt returner. He posted the highest punt return average in Penn State history (17.8 yards/punt return). Tennessee’s point-return game was at times inconsistent last season with Chester Rogers, who remains a free agent.
If the Titans trade up
WHAT’S THE DEAL?: Titans trade the No. 26 pick, no. 204 (sixth round) and a 2023 third rounder to the Saints for the 19th pick
THE PICK AT NO. 19: Desmond Ridder, quarterback, Cincinnati
MEASURABLES: 6-3, 211 pounds.
2021 STATS (14 games): 64.9% completion rate, 3,334 yards, 30 TDs, 8 INTs
Of the three scenarios, trading up at the top of the draft appears to be the least likely for the Titans, as they don’t have a second-round pick thanks to last year’s trade for Julio Jones. after no. 26, their next selection isn’t until No. 90 (third round).
But if there is a player Tennessee wants badly enough and is in range, it could use future draft capital to move up. It’s not uncommon for teams to move up in the first round for quarterbacks, who often go sooner than expected even in a weak class at the position. Robinson acknowledged during the NFL combine that the team is starting to evaluate potential successors to Ryan Tannehill in this year’s draft class.
Ridder has great size and athleticism for a quarterback, and draft evaluators praise his ability to process quickly in the pocket. The concern is his inconsistent accuracy, but he won’t have to play right away in Tennessee. He’d learn under Tannehill – someone he models his game after – for at least a year.
And there’s no doubt the Titans have been able to get strong intel on Ridder. Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell is close friends with Titans coach Mike Vrabel, as the two were defensive line teammates at Ohio State in the 1990s. Fickell also was the best man at Vrabel’s wedding.
Robinson has said this year’s draft is deep on the offensive line and receiver, so the Titans could have confidence they could get better at both positions even with taking a quarterback in the first round.
Ben Arthur covers the Tennessee Titans for The USA TODAY Network. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @benyarthur.