Tennessee Titans need T.J. Hockenson to have a great combine

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 05: Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick (DB51) runs the 40 yard dash during the NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on March 5, 2018 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 05: Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick (DB51) runs the 40 yard dash during the NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on March 5, 2018 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /

Tennessee Titans need to be saved from the potential best player available at 19.

The NFL Scouting Combine is here and it is time for the Tennessee Titans to get some real, solid testing numbers on the prospects from the 2019 NFL Draft.

There really aren’t many debates (from people that watch the Titans) about the team’s biggest needs. EDGE and interior offensive line are the positions where they could improve the most at, while defensive tackle is a position where they really need another player to come in and stand out.

Wide receiver is the wild card, but ultimately the talent in this draft presents more value in the 2nd and 3rd round than it does in the 1st, given that there isn’t even really a true WR1 type player this year.

However, the idea that scares me the most for the Tennessee Titans is this idea of drafting a backup in the first round. Let me clarify this a little bit, when I say backup I mean a player that will 60% or fewer of the snaps.

More from Titans News

So for example, even though Malcolm Butler plays CB3 for the Titans I wouldn’t call him a backup because he played roughly 83% of the snaps for Tennessee last year.

I believe that in the first round, you should either be able to find a player that can play the bulk of the snaps for you and also make an impact or you should be able to trade down, collect assets and pick there where long term value and need are a bigger factor.

That is why when people talking about taking a tight end in the first round I just can’t see it, especially in a deep tight end class like this one.

However, taking a player that “can’t miss” is tempting even though that tag is rarely applied to the best player in a given draft or even the best player at his position. So I believe that the Tennessee Titans need to be saved from themselves.

T.J. Hockenson needs to have a great combine for this to happen.

Already regarded as a dark horse candidate for a top-10 selection, Hockenson is a great blocker and a threat in the passing game. However, for the Titans he would only be their second best tight end.

I get that so many people want to write off Delanie Walker given his age and his injury, but it isn’t like he is being rushed back or like he was fading away when he was healthy. This is a player that was set to have another year where he hits or tops 800 yards.

So you are telling me that in training camp and preseason, that T.J. Hockenson is going to pick up the nuances of playing TE at the NFL level and be able to handle the responsibility of being a playmaking TE?

I don’t know, given how rare it is for 1st round tight ends to really make a big impact if they have to be real TEs and not just big WRs, I don’t see any way where he is going to be better than Delanie Walker week one.

More from Titan Sized

So now you are talking about taking a guy in the 1st round who is going to be your second tight end? “But how are you going to defend Hockenson and Walker on the field at the same time?” is the common response I get, but how many offenses dominate the NFL because of their skill at TE? Every or nearly every team in the NFL has great talent at WR or QB that helps elevate that player.

On top of that, the Titans second tight end has only played an average of 49.8% of the snaps over the last few years. Is that really going to help the Titans more than a starting caliber EDGE, both short and long term? I don’t believe that.

However, the big concern is that the Titans will run out of talented EDGEs and be tempted by the idea of Hockenson at 19. The combine is going to be very important for the Titans because based on Hockenson’s results he will either land in that 10-12 range, or he will fall.

Make no mistake, no matter what people tell you if Hockenson tests poorly he will fall to that 18-22 range as teams won’t be as confident that his tape at Iowa matches up with the level of competition he will face in the NFL.

If I was going to grade a pick off the cuff, Hockenson is a “B” and ultimately the draft may fall in a way where there is no value to trade down and there isn’t anyone else worth drafting at 19. However, the only way the Titans can hit a homerun pick is by marrying a need with draft value and I would be shocked if there isn’t a high caliber EDGE prospect available at 19.