Tennessee Titans likely won’t take a TE until the third round – but probably has to reach for an OT in Round 1
Tennessee general manager Jon Robinson recently told ESPN that the organization will “have to have a tight end at some point.”
With all due respect to Geoff Swaim, whom the team re-signed to a one-year deal in free agency, the Titans still have a ways to go. Anthony Firkser and MyCole Pruitt are also unrestricted free agents.
But Tennessee won’t find their tight end of the future in the first round. There simply aren’t any worthy of a Day 1 pick.
Making matters more difficult? The Titans don’t have a second-round pick.
Overall, there are six tight ends ranked between No. 55 (Colorado State’s Trey McBride) and No. 97 (Texas A&M’s Jalen Wydermyer), making the late second-round to the end of the third-round the sweet spot for the position. Overall, there are 17 tight ends ranked among the top 263 prospects in the Fanspeak-Jake Rigdon big board.
However, Tennessee will need to draft a tight end by the third round if it wants a potential rookie starter, as there’s a gap between Wydermyer and the next-highest ranked TE, Virginia’s Jelani Woods (No. 130).
Rest assured, though, the team is doing its due diligence at the position. Of the known 22 formal or informal meetings Tennessee held during the Combine, the Titans interviewed five TEs, more than any other position, according to WalterFootball. Tennessee also interviewed four receivers.
The Titans also need an upgrade at right tackle, and with pick No. 26 overall in the first round, there’s a chance that the best ones will already be gone. As many as six OTs could go in Round 1; overall, there are eight ranked among the top 62.
Therefore, Tennessee almost has to draft a tackle on Day 1 if it’s hoping to pick up an immediate starter – unless the team signs one in free agency, which could be pricey.
Here’s a look at the two OTs ranked just outside of the top 32 and three TEs who should be available in the third round.
Round 1: Offensive tackle
Let’s be clear: Tennessee shouldn’t need another tackle.
It started with the selection of Taylor Lewan out of Michigan with the No. 11 overall pick in 2014, followed by Michigan State’s Jack Conklin with the No. 8 overall pick two years later. However, the team declined Conklin’s fifth-year option, and he wound up going to Cleveland in 2020.
So the team drafted Isaiah Wilson out of Georgia in 2020 with the No. 29 overall pick, and that obviously didn’t work out, as Wilson is currently out of the league. Tennessee then drafted North Dakota State’s Dillon Radunz in the second round last year with the No. 53 overall pick. While it’s too early to guess what kind of career Radunz will have, the early returns aren’t great. As John Glennon of FanNation’s All Titans said, “… It’s hard to be overly optimistic about what lies ahead for Radunz.” He was moved to guard last season and received only 124 snaps on offense – which is extremely disappointing for a second-rounder.
But Tennessee might have to reach a bit if it wants to take a tackle in the first round, as the top six could be gone. The best of the remaining tackles is Petit-Frere, who was at one time ranked among the top 15 players. He slipped in the rankings since then — especially after struggling against Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo — and he comes with some risks. NFL.com draft analyst Lance Zierlein calls Petit-Frere a “buyer beware” type of player with a high-floor, low-ceiling. Several draft analysts say he should have stayed at Ohio State another year, adding that he hasn’t quite put it all together yet.
From Zierlein: “Petit-Frere possesses clutch strength and mirror quickness in pass pro but is soft on his edges, which will be identified and attacked until his play strength and hand-fighting improve.”
Still, Petit-Frere gets the nod over Faalele, who comes with his own concerns – mainly his size, which is seen as both his greatest strength and potentially his biggest weakness. The 6-foot-8, 384-pound senior will soon become the largest tackle in the league, but draft analysts all seem to agree that the Australian will have trouble against smaller, speedy edge rushers because of his massive size.
Great job by all up front but Nicholas Petit-Frere does a great job getting to the outside shoulder and turning the DL outside. pic.twitter.com/fbnoThYz7y
— Jake Schyvinck (@JakeNFLDraft) September 3, 2021
Round 3: Tight End
You almost have to go with Wydermyer, as he’s the last of this tier of tight ends. The next-highest rated TE is Virginia’s Woods (No. 130), who is ranked 33 spots lower than Wydermyer.
At one point, Wydermyer was considered the top tight end in the 2022 draft. But a season’s worth of shaky QB play at Texas A&M combined with a good-but-not-great final season has dropped his draft stock, as he’s now seen as a late-third to early-fourth round prospect. In addition, sources told WalterFootball that Wydermyer was one of two players who didn’t impress during Combine interviews (Tennessee was one of the teams that reportedly met with him).
From WalterFootball: “Sources noted Wydermyer’s character was fine, but saw his football IQ as a problem, which led to a bad interview.”
The 6-foot-4, 255-pound junior finished as Texas A&M’s all-time leader in receptions (118), receiving yards (1,468) and TDs (16) for a tight end.
Jalen Wydermyer makes some really tough catches…exciting middle of field+RZ threat in this TE class pic.twitter.com/qaYUw18VVE
— Connor Rogers (@ConnorJRogers) December 21, 2021
Will Tennessee take an offensive tackle in the first round and a tight end in the third? Find out in Fanspeak’s latest Titans mock draft.
Want more NFL Draft content? Subscribe here to the Fanspeak Network for weekly NFL Draft shows!