Expect the Tennessee Titans to build the offensive line in free agency

Tennessee Titans Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Tennessee Titans Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports /

If the Tennessee Titans let Nate Davis walk, Ben Jones retires, and cut Taylor Lewan, they will need to address four offensive line positions this offseason.

Since the Titans have the 11th overall pick, they will be in a position to draft one of the first offensive linemen in the draft class, if not the first lineman.

Mike Vrabel, Ran Carthon, and the rest of the Tennessee Titans’ brain trust will pour over Paris Johnson, Peter Skoronski, and Broderick Jones to identify which one of those tackles will be a plug-and-play starter on this offensive line.

After that, I’m not sure that the Titans will draft another offensive lineman, and they might not need to.

I expect that most of the Tennessee Titans offensive line will be built out of free agents or players that are already on the roster.

Why the Tennessee Titans seem to be gearing up for veteran offensive linemen

The first big indicator that there probably wouldn’t be a youth movement for the Tennessee Titans on the offensive line is the coaching hire.

Vrabel decided to promote Jason Houghtaling and make him the offensive line coach for 2023. Houghtaling has been an assistant for the Tennessee Titans for two years, and outside of that, he doesn’t have any NFL experience or even any D1 collegiate experience.

Over the past two years, I would argue that there hasn’t been a single offensive lineman that has actually gotten better at their job. Players have either regressed or stayed the same, which is part of what prompted the firing of former OL coach Keith Carter.

Now, I have to assume that Mike Vrabel believes that Houghtaling will be an improvement over Carter as the OL coach, but under no circumstances can he expect to start multiple rookie offensive linemen this year.

Maybe Houghtaling can do a better job identifying which players should play tackle and which players should play guard, and fans have to hope that he won’t do anything as egregiously bad as letting a Dennis Daley-caliber players play for 16-straight weeks at left tackle. However, the fact is that we just don’t know and neither does Vrabel because…well, Houghtaling has never done it before.

That shouldn’t keep them from drafting one of those offensive tackles I mentioned earlier, but the further you go down the draft, the more of a project these prospects become.

As it stands right now, the group of offensive linemen set to hit free agency is deep even though they lack that star power at the top. If the Tennessee Titans can be content with NPF starting at one tackle spot and the first-round rookie starting at the other tackle spot, then they can focus o finding plug-and-play interior linemen.

That isn’t an easy task, but it is much more reasonable than expecting a first-time NFL offensive line coach to be able to develop a Day 3 pick into a starter.

You can build a pretty solid interior for about $30 million AAV, the one benefit to replacing so many offensive linemen at once is that you can be sure that they all fit the offensive system that you want to implement.

It is also easier to stomach giving the interior offensive linemen big contracts when you know that you have two starting tackles on rookie deals and that you will need a solid offensive line for the inevitable QB change whether that happens in 2023 or 2026.

Right now it sounds good to imagine drafting a couple of offensive linemen in the top 100 picks, but Ran Carthon needs to hit on most of these picks to start off his career off on the right foot with Tennessee Titans fans. Boxing him into selecting multiple offensive linemen is a bad way to start.