NFL Free agency is going to be crucial for the Tennessee Titans this year and they have poured a lot of resources into finding guys who can identify and sign key players.
Until we see what Ran Carthon, Chad Brinker, and Mike Vrabel decide to do with key free agents and potential cap cuts, we won’t know exactly how to rank some impending needs for the 2023 NFL Draft.
However, that doesn’t mean that it is too early to look at the draft because the offseason isn’t a linear thing. You have to know what the draft has to offer before you decide how to move forward in free agency.
That is why Tennessee Titans fans should constantly have their eye on what Dane Brugler is doing. If there is anyone in the NFL Draft community who is more plugged in than him, I haven’t come across their work in the last decade.
Tuesday morning he released his updated top-100 and you should bookmark it and read it over and over as you wait for his annual draft guide (The Beast) to be released.
After reading over that a few times already, here are five important notes that will impact the Tennessee Titans’ draft strategies.
Tackles, receivers, tight ends, and more options for the Tennessee Titans
1. Offensive tackle has to be addressed in either the 1st or 3rd round.
The Tennessee Titans have three picks in the top 100 (picks 11, 42, and 73) and when you look at the impending need at one of the tackle positions, there are two clusters that stand out. The top three OTs are all in the top-12, which is great news for Tennessee because they should have multiple options there.
If they forgo OT there, the next grouping that makes sense is 63, 65, 69, 81, and 84. According to Brugler, those players are the OT6-OT10 in this class. OTs will be pushed up the board based on their positional value, but one of those five OTs should still be there with the 73rd pick.
I expect there to be a heavy push to add veterans to the offensive line in free agency, so it is hard to tell where OT will fit on their list of needs. It could range anywhere from an instant starter at left tackle, to just needing someone to back up Taylor Lewan if he comes back on a cheap deal. Either way, it is hard to imagine OT not being addressed in the top 100.
2. The Tennessee Titans can find a pass catcher to attack the middle of the field in the 2nd round.
This draft isn’t filled with great boundary receivers, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t upgrade the Tennessee Titans’ passing game.
Austin Hooper could re-sign with the Titans, especially considering that the TE market is going to be flooded and it should mean some potential hometown discounts. If not, then the Tennessee Titans could grab one of the four (4!) tight ends in this class that hold a top-32 grade from Brugler.
All four fall in the 24-30 range, but it has been a very long time since four tight ends were drafted in the first round.
If one of those guys doesn’t fall, collegiate slot receivers like Jalin Hyatt, Jaxson Smith-Njigba, and Josh Downs all fall between in the 22-45 range.
Putting that all together, there are 7 pass-catchers that work over the middle of the field that would be good (or great) value with the 42nd pick in the draft.
3. The class is littered with EDGE
15 of Brugler’s top 100 prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft class are EDGEs, which is more than any other group.
It is rare to see a class that has talent at the top at EDGE, but also has good value picks sprinkled throughout the first three rounds. As free agency takes place and offensive needs are filled, you could make an argument for taking an EDGE at nearly every selection that the Titans have.
4. There could be a run on centers in the 2nd round
This is another tightly grouped position in this year’s class. There are only 4 players in Dane Brugler’s top 100 that play center and all four of them fall between the 39th and 50th best prospects in this class.
That could mean that there will be a talented center that falls to the top of the third round, or it could mean that there will be a run on centers in the second round or the draft.
5. There are only 4 QBs in this class
Anyone hoping that Hendon Hooker had impressed Brugler, they are going to be sorely disappointed.
Despite his cool story in 2021 and his incredible season in 2022, Brugler only has 4 QBs in the top 100. While age and injury status are clearly factors here, it is important to remember how low the hit rate is on quarterbacks outside of the first round.
In fact, the hit rate on first-round quarterbacks isn’t very high either, but it is at least better than non-first-round QBs.
Florida’s Anthony Richardson is the lowest-ranked QB at 14, and he is going to be an interesting target for the Tennessee Titans. Considering that he might be available with the 11th pick, Tim Kelly’s history of elevating QBs, and the fact that GM Ran Carthon played at Florida when he was in college, there are reasons to think about him as an option.