Tennessee has just 6 picks in 2022 NFL draft to fill holes along both lines

Tennessee Titans

Tennessee has to feel pretty good about its current situation.

Sitting atop the AFC South with an 8-2 record, the Titans have the easiest remaining schedule in the league – their final seven opponents are a combined 22-42-1, a 0.346 winning percentage. And Tennessee just keeps winning despite the loss of its All-Pro running back and future Hall of Fame wide receiver. Even better news? Both RB Derrick Henry and WR Julio Jones should return late this season.

And what was once considered a weakness – the defense – has shown improvement, as Tennessee has allowed the 10th-fewest rushing yards, the team’s 27 sacks ties them for second in the league, and the Titans’ 9 interceptions are tied for the sixth-most.

But, regardless of how Tennessee fares the rest of the way, the Titans have decisions to make at the end of the season.

Start with the offensive line, where beloved starting center Ben Powers is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, along with right tackle David Quessenberry. Tight end Geoff Swaim, whose 19 receptions are fourth on the team, will also be an UFA at the end of the season.

And don’t forget about Edge Harold Landry, who should be rewarded for his breakout season.

Of the 19 players expected to be unrestricted free agents at the end of the season, six of them are starters. You can probably add in starting CB Janoris Jenkins, who is a prime candidate to be cut at the end of the season when his team-friendly $5 million contract can more than double.

You also have to figure Tennessee will eventually look to replace quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who has won games at a high clip for the Titans but is having his worst season since leaving Miami. The problem with that is the way the 2022 draft is playing out thus far, as there’s no consensus top quarterback in what’s considered a weak class at the position. So taking a QB with a Day 2 grade in the first round – only to have him sit behind Tannehill for at least a season, doesn’t make sense, and the team is unlikely to find anything other than a developmental signal-caller beyond that. In other words, the team probably won’t find its new franchise QB in the upcoming draft.

But the team can find some replacements for potential free-agent defections, even though the Titans have just six picks in the 2022 draft.

Need a few offensive linemen who could potentially start? Need a Plan B in case Landry signs elsewhere? And how about a TE of the future?

We’ve got you covered.

Round 1: DL Jordan Davis, Georgia

Former 2020 undrafted rookie free agent Teair Tart has been a nice story this season for Tennessee, and his backup at NT, Naquan Jones, who made the team as an undrafted rookie free agent this season, has filled in admirably when called upon.

But neither is as talented as the 6-foot-6, 340-pound Davis.

Tennessee has done well this season generating pressure on the QB, ranking second in the league, according to Pro Football Focus. But the team ranks 24th with a 31.3 pressure rate. That, in turn, puts pressure on the secondary. As PFF points out, teams are throwing on the Titans more this season because they’re often playing behind the Titans. And, for the most part, the results have been solid, as Tennessee has the second-highest team coverage grade at 84.2, according to PFF. But the team has also allowed the second-most passing yards (2,679).

Having a stronger presence in the middle would help fix all of that. It would help alleviate some of the pressure on star-in-the-making DL Jeffery Simmons, whose 7.5 sacks are second on the team. It would strengthen the run defense. And, in theory, it would help the secondary (and Landry), as opposing QBs would have less time to throw.

Davis’ stats might hold him back – the senior has 23 tackles, 3.5 TFLs and 2 sacks this season, giving him a line of 81-10-7 (and counting) for his career. But his impact goes far beyond the stat sheet – to the point that Davis is now a dark-horse candidate to win the Heisman Trophy.

Here’s a great feature on Davis from ESPN.

Round 3: TE Charlie Kolar, Iowa State

Entering the season, the 6-foot-6, 260-pound senior was considered the top TE by many publications. While he’s still in the mix to be the first tight end drafted, it’s a relatively deep draft at the position – and none are expected to go until Day 2 of the draft.

Kolar has had yet another solid season with 41 receptions for 506 yards and 4 TDs, giving him a four-season line of 147-1,931-21.

Pro Football Network’s Tony Pauline graded Kolar as a second-round prospect before the start of the season. From Pauline: “… He’s a terrific pass catcher with consistent hands. Kolar is smart, dependable, and always comes away with the reception. He has outstanding size, and though not a true burner, he possesses enough speed to get to the third level as a receiver.”

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