Tennessee Titans rookie pass catcher continues his hot start

Tennessee Titans (Mandatory Credit: The Tennessean)
Tennessee Titans (Mandatory Credit: The Tennessean) /

Watching the 2022 NFL Draft, it was hard to figure out exactly what the Tennessee Titans were trying to do until the class was completely assembled.

Immediately after the first two days, it looked like the Titans might have been drafting with the idea of rebooting and restarting in 2023 with Treylon Burks looking like the only starter that the team landed in their first four picks.

However, on Day 3 the Tennessee Titans drafted three skill players who have drawn some impressive reviews this offseason.

While Treylon Burks has been sidelined with asthma (something that shouldn’t be an issue when the season rolls around), the trio of Hassan Haskins, Chig Okonkwo, and Kyle Philips have all received glowing praise.

Tuesday was the first practice of the Tennessee Titans’ mandatory mini-camp, and one of those three already looks like he is going to be a force to be reckoned with.

Okonkwo looks like a steal for the Tennessee Titans so far

While Austin Hooper is clearly the top tight end on the roster, Okonkwo seems to be closing the gap quickly and he may already be the TE2 based on the tweet below:

There are two important things to take away from that tweet. The first thing is that the rookie is getting plenty of reps with the first-team offense and Ryan Tannehill, which is notable considering that we already know that Hooper is starting.

That essentially points to Geoff Swaim moving into the TE3/special teams role at some point this season which would be a welcome surprise and ahead of schedule.

The other thing to note is, that not only is he competing and winning against an All-Pro like Kevin Byard, but he has done enough positive things in practice for Ryan Tannehill to give him a chance on a matchup like that.

As we get closer and closer to the preseason, it wouldn’t surprise me if the Tennessee Titans look to use two tight ends very often this season and potentially even lead the league in 2TE sets.

Some of that is because the Titans don’t have great depth at wide receiver, but the other reason is that both Hooper and Okonkwo can be mismatches that can win in the slot just as easily as they can win on the line of scrimmage.

Regardless of whether they lead the league in that look or whether they just use it often, it seems clear to me that this offense is going to feature the tight end in ways that they didn’t last year.

The Titans went from 118 targets for their two tight ends in 2020, to 83 targets for their top two tight ends in 2021, despite the fact that they played 17 games last season compared to 16 in 2020.

This year, it wouldn’t surprise me if the Titans ended up with something close to 125 targets for Austin Hooper and Chig Okonkwo. When one of those players has made the Pro Bowl twice in the last four years and the other was the fastest rookie tight end in the draft class, I would say that is a good call.