NFL Scouting Combine critical for new analytics driven Tennessee Titans

Tennessee Titans Mandatory Credit: Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports
Tennessee Titans Mandatory Credit: Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports /

The NFL Scouting Combine is a confusing piece of the draft puzzle for fans, and Tennessee Titans fans haven’t had a consistent idea of what that piece meant for them when the draft rolled around.

For example, the best players on the Tennessee Titans roster include guys like Derrick Henry, Chig Okonkwo, Kevin Byard, and Jeffery Simmons. However, all three have wildly different athletic profiles.

While Chig Okonkwo was the fastest tight end in last year’s draft class, his lack of size and average agility made him a slightly above-average athlete according to his Relative Atheltic Score (RAS).

On the other hand, Derrick Henry had average agility and speed scores on his RAS, but he was so big that it pulled him up into the “elite” athlete territory.

Then if you look at the other two names that I mentioned. Kevin Byard wasn’t invited to the NFL Combine when he was coming out in 2016. Despite that, he had a really nice Pro Day even though it didn’t put him in the “elite” category. Meanwhile, Jeffery Simmons was injured and didn’t get to do any athletic testing at all.

That was in the past though where the film was almost all of the evaluation process. This year Ran Carthon is running the draft and he has preached about how much he likes using analytics and athletic testing to back up what he sees on tape.

If that is the new way of doing things, there are two drills that are now must-watch for Tennessee Titans fans.

How the Tennessee Titans should use the NFL Combine

A lot of people have said that the most important things that happen at the NFL Combine are the medicals. Unfortunately, the Tennessee Titans medical staff is the one that cleared Caleb Farley and gave the thumbs up for the team to draft him two years ago.

Assuming that the Titans will screw up the medicals again this year (because why wouldn’t they?), the two most important tests are:

1. The short shuttle drill for offensive linemen

2. The 3-cone drill for EDGEs

I encourage everyone to go watch this clip from Josh Norris talking about these tests. The video is less than 9 minutes long and it explains in detail why these tests are great indicators to highlight which players will be future starters at their positions.

The short version is that offensive linemen that run a 4.4 shuttle time or better, have a much higher hit rate than offensive linemen that don’t hit that mark. Now, it doesn’t happen often, in fact, there have only been 28 offensive linemen that have done it since 2010.

However, this trend holds true no matter where these players have been drafted. So if the Tennessee Titans need an offensive lineman on Day 3 of the 2023 NFL Draft, and one of these guys is on the board, fans should be begging Ran Carthon to draft that prospect.

The other trend is EDGEs who have hit a sub-6.89 on their 3-cone. That number is even rarer to see, and the list of first-round picks drafted with that number includes guys like Von Miller, J.J. Watt, T.J. Watt, and Aidan Hutchinson.

However once again this trend holds true whether the player is drafted in the first round or on Day 3. Harold Landry, Maxx Crosby, and Sam Hubbard are all guys who passed that filter but were drafted outside of the first round.

While bad 40 times might tell you which players are most likely to fail, there are few tests that predict success. These are two of the absolute best tests for those positions and you can bet that Ran Carthon and his staff know that, which means that Tennessee Titans fans should bookmark those names if anyone can clear those athletic benchmarks.