The Tennessee Titans’ plan with Radunz resembles their plan with two other linemen.
As soon as he was drafted, the Titans told him to come in and learn the playbook for both guard spots and right tackle. That is a message that has been repeated over and over, and it was even hinted at in Jim Wyatt’s mailbag on Tuesday:
"I think the experience at both positions will prove to be valuable, because [Radunz will] be in a position to be active on game days, capable of playing either position in a pinch. I do think he’ll eventually wind up as a tackle, but for now, the team is still getting him ready for both spots."
The value in drafting an athletic offensive tackle from North Dakota State who has played one game in the last two years, wasn’t because they were convinced that he was going to be an All-Pro tackle as a rookie.
Like when they drafted Nate Davis, the plan was to add a talented player, with great traits, reliable character, and great work ethic from a small school with the goal of starting at some point down the road.
Davis was pushed into the starting spot halfway through his rookie year because of injuries and poor play in front of him, but he really didn’t hit his stride until his second season. The difference is, Radunz has the athletic ability to play tackle or guard in this zone blocking scheme and that versatility increases his value because he can be active on game day.
With offensive linemen becoming harder and harder to find, it is a smart move to draft someone who is projected to be a good starter at a premium position in his second year, even if his role as a rookie is as a backup-up guard and tackle.
On paper, Radunz is very similar to Taylor Lewan when he was coming out as a prospect. He is one-eighth of an inch shorter and 13 pounds lighter, but both thrive because of their elite explosion and agility. The RAS chart above proves that.
Remember, Lewan only started 6 games in his rookie season because he was sitting behind Michael Roos and he took massive strides early in his career to get to where he is today.
Radunz has had six good quarters and two really ugly quarters. It isn’t the perfect outcome, but there has been more good than bad. Improvement isn’t a straight line, it comes with ups and downs, and his development is going to take time.
It is going to be hard, but fans are going to have to hold back and wait to really analyze this pick until the 2022 season starts. If he gets in and does anything good as a rookie, that is all gravy and it would be an outstanding feather in his cap, but his career won’t be made or broken in 2021.