If you look at one position and area of the game that was an unexpected disappointment for the Tennessee Titans last year, it was the offensive line.
You could counter by saying wide receiver due to the colossal failure that was the Julio Jones trade, but overall, the offensive line was one weakness that many people did not see coming.
It all started when Ryan Tannehill took six sacks in the opening game of 2021 and ended with him being the second-most sacked quarterback in the NFL. In fact, the offensive line was so bad in pass protection that the Titans gave up the seventh-most sacks of any team.
Taylor Lewan should be healthier this year and with Ben Jones returning and Nate Davis finishing the 2021 season strong, there is some hope. You can also add in the fact that Dillon Radunz looked good in his start against the San Francisco 49ers last year and should cruise to the starting right tackle job.
That leaves left guard open for competition after Rodger Saffold was cut for cap savings at the end of the year, and was not adequately replaced during free agency.
As such, his void will have to be filled, and the only opportunity that the Titans have left to do that is in the draft. We know that they are a tough, physical team that preaches winning at the line of scrimmage, but is this the most pressing need on the roster right now?
Tennessee Titans can get better value in later rounds of the draft
Let’s get one thing right — if offensive tackle were what the Tennessee Titans were looking for, they would need to address it in the first round. In fact, you could make the argument for them having to seriously consider trading up for one of the elite tackles in the draft if that was the position they were looking at.
But as long as the Titans put Dillon Radunz at right tackle (which is what they should do) they need reinforcements at interior offensive line and that isn’t something that has to be addressed in the first round.
It is no coincidence that tackles are normally heavily drafted on Day 1 and guards and centers are usually left for the later days. It is because interior offensive line is one of the safest positions and deepest positions in football to draft. Generally, teams are better off filling the positions that are not as easy to replace like EDGE, CB, QB, OT, or WR.
Just look at the Titans themselves, they drafted Nate Davis in the third round to fill the right guard spot, and he has done just fine from almost the time he first jumped out onto the field. Starting center Ben Jones was a fourth-rounder himself and has been incredibly consistent since coming to Nashville.
Not only have the Titans proven that you do not have to invest first-round picks or equivalent assets into interior offensive linemen, but they have another big need at wide receiver. In terms of finding guys who can be sure game-changers, there are not going to be many after the first round of the draft.
The Titans did trade for Robert Woods earlier in the offseason, but in today’s NFL, teams seem to need at least three wideouts who pose a legitimate threat to the opposition. The Titans still do not have that, meaning that they need to take care of it early in the draft, especially when there are legitimate questions about Ryan Tannehill being enough to take the team over the top.
The Titans will have to find their solution at left guard next week in Vegas, but they are not going to maximize their team’s potential if they prioritize that over receiver. We know what their identity is, but that should not stop them from taking the right player at the right time.