Why the Tennessee Titans sent everyone to Ohio State’s Pro Day

Tennessee Titans Mandatory Credit: Barbara Perenic/Columbus Dispatch
Tennessee Titans Mandatory Credit: Barbara Perenic/Columbus Dispatch /

There are some blue-chip colleges whose Pro Days always draw a heavy crowd, but even by that standard, the Tennessee Titans are sending a lot of high-level employees to Ohio State’s Pro Day.

In total, the Titans are sending seven coaches and front-office members to the Pro Day (per Jim Nagy in the tweet below). The only teams with a larger presence are the Carolina Panthers, New York Giants, Seattle Seahawks, and the New Orleans Saints.

One of the most telling details is that the Tennessee Titans are sending Mike Vrabel, Ran Carthon, Chad Brinker, and Tim Kelly. More on what that means in a second.

Let’s get one thing out of the way, there is a very small chance that this could have something to do with quarterback C.J. Stroud. However unlikely, there is a chance that the Carolina Panthers and Houston Texans prefer Anthony Richardson and Bryce Young more than C.J. Stroud.

We already know that the Titans would most likely have Stroud as the QB1 in this class based on what Ran Carthon has said that he values in quarterback prospects, and he comes from a front office that literally traded up to the 3rd overall pick to draft a quarterback two years ago.

While it is very unlikely (probably less than a 5% chance), I am sure that the team is doing its due diligence.

The Tennessee Titans real draft targets

Assuming that Stroud isn’t the target here, it is very likely that they are there to observe and get information on two offensive prospects.

The first name is one that everyone should be familiar with by now, and that is Paris Johnson the left tackle.

Just giving you the thumbnail on him, Johnson took over the left tackle spot from Nicholas Petit-Frere this season and was dominant for the Ohio State offensive line. While he was the team’s right guard in 2021, he was a natural at tackle and looked smooth and comfortable in space.

Combining the athleticism of a tackle with the disposition of an interior lineman is a dream come true for Tennessee Titans fans that have spent the bulk of their fandom watching guys like Taylor Lewan, Michael Roos, David Stewart, and Brad Hopkins at offensive tackle.

While other names could be on the table on Day 2, the only other name that everyone agrees is a 1st round pick is wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba.

JSN is such a polarizing player and I couldn’t imagine a player that fits what Mike Vrabel has been preaching less. Stop me if you have heard this be a problem for Tennessee Titans players before, but JSN missed nearly the entire 2022 season with a hamstring injury that wouldn’t go away. That is the same injury that Mike Vrabel has hinted that indicates that a player isn’t taking care of their body the right way.

If that wasn’t enough of a red flag, nearly 85% of his routes were run from the slot. Whether you want to look at Mike Vrabel’s history or Tim Kelly’s, neither seems like that is a position they want to feature.

For example, in 2021 Tim Kelly’s offense had two players that I would call slot receivers: Danny Amendola and Chris Moore. In 18 games those two combined 45 receptions, 475 yards, and 5 TDs. That comes out to 13% of the team’s receptions, 13% of the team’s receiving yards, and 24% of the team’s receiving touchdowns.

It is hard to justify spending that sort of draft capital on a player that factors into such a small part of your offense when you honestly have a decent slot receiver on the roster in Kyle Philips.

However…I can’t help loving the player.

I can’t decide whether it is the weak receiver class around him, the fact that he had 500+ more receiving yards than both Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson when they played together at Ohio State, or that his agility numbers are incredible, but it is impossible to watch him play and think that the Tennessee Titans would be better off without him whether you are talking about in 2023 or beyond.

Maybe the best way to rationalize it is to think about him the same way people think about Peter Skoronski the OT/G from Northwestern. You can draft them and see if they can play the high-value position (boundary WR for JSN and LT for Skoronski), and if they can then you hit a home run. If not, then you end up hitting a double, and you can live with that.