The Tennessee Titans have had a lot of issues on the offensive line this year, but Dillon Radunz should have shown fans that there are some bright spots for the future.
A tough conversation is going to happen this offseason when the Tennessee Titans figure out what to do about an expensive and banged up left side, and whether or not they can get a deal done that makes sense for center Ben Jones who is a cerebral mauler and one of the most beloved guys in the locker room.
However, rookie offensive tackle Dillon Radunz along with second-year interior lineman Aaron Brewer and third-year right guard Nate Davis showed a lot of positives in the Thursday night win against the San Francisco 49ers.
Going forward, the focus for offensive line coach Keith Carter should be on Dillon Radunz and the best way to develop him.
Why Dillon Radunz was impressive for the Tennessee Titans
Ups and downs are part of any rookie season, but great players figure out ways to build on the ups and fix the downs.
The big positive that everyone talks about (or should talk about) is his success against Nick Bosa’s pass rush.
For context, Nick Bosa has 15 sacks this season and in his last six games before facing the Titans he notched a sack in each and had 8 total. So it is an understatement to say that he was playing well.
Not only did Bosa finish the game without a sack, but he flat-out stopped rushing against Radunz at halftime and took his talents over to the right side to face David Quessenberry who he deemed an easier matchup than the rookie.
The rookie held his own in the run game as well. Despite being miscast as an interior lineman, Radunz always had a future on the outside where he could use his athleticism and length to leverage his way around and in front of defenders. This happened multiple times on Thursday including when he helped pave the way for a 33-yard touchdown that was called back because of a phantom holding penalty on Geoff Swaim.
Radunz proved that he could be a very good positional blocker and leverage defenders out of plays, but he isn’t a drive blocker who mauls defensive linemen and he isn’t built to be that.
When Taylor Lewan comes back, the left tackle spot is unquestionably his, and David Quessenberry has been so bad this season that either the Titans coaches aren’t watching him or they don’t care.
Despite that, there are still ways to get the rookie on the field.
The Titans have used extra linemen in formations multiple times this season and Dillon Radunz is the perfect blend of athleticism and size to play as a fullback or tight end in these jumbo packages. In fact, you could honestly have him take Geoff Swaim’s place on the bulk of running downs considering his struggles in run blocking this season.
Regardless of how they might use him, the fact is that they just need him on the field in some role. The coaching staff can’t pretend like he is still a work in progress anymore and the fans should be furious if the coaching staff makes him a healthy scratch again.