If the 2023 NFL season started tomorrow, the Tennessee Titans would need Nick Westbrook-Ikine, Mason Kinsey, and Racey McMath to collectively give them about 1000 snaps on offense.
That is a great strategy if the team is trying to position themselves for Caleb Williams or Drake Maye in the 2024 NFL Draft, but if they are trying to win football games next year they have to do better.
I get it, more often than not trying to find skill position players in free agency is a crapshoot and no one is saying that they should have broken the bank for any of the receivers that hit the open market.
Even if they did make competitive offers to some of those receivers, I understand why those receivers might not want to sign on for the Mike Vrabel/Derrick Henry experience.
However, they should have done something at the position, and cap space shouldn’t have been a concern. When you look at how Ran Carthon and the front office is structuring cap space, there are very minimal cap hits for 2023.
That means that players like D.J. Chark, Marvin Jones, and Mecole Hardman who all have cap hits of less than $2.5 million in 2023, could have been options for this team that would have made sense.
The five biggest signings of the Tennessee Titans offseason have been Andre Dillard, Azeez Al-Shaair, Arden Key, Daniel Brunskill, and Sean Murphy-Bunting.
None of those signings precludes them from drafting a specific position in the first round, but it certainly lowers the priority of tackle, off-ball linebacker, EDGE, interior offensive line, and cornerback.
And that priority is an important thing because the Tennessee Titans are going to have to be very judicious with their picks. As it stands right now, they have six picks in the 2023 NFL Draft, though every visit that the team has suggests that they will be trading down in the first round.
If they can’t find a partner for a trade, then the team is going to have to reach for some picks because the receiving corps just can’t look like this when they kick off the 2023 season. I’m high on Treylon Burks and Chig Okonkwo (who is a pass catcher who should be treated as more than a tight end) because they are both guys who have been very productive in terrible situations, but even if both of those guys stayed healthy for the entire season and played every snap, the team needs another boundary receiver.
Then you have to think about what the team has preached all offseason, speed. When the Tennessee Titans have been asked about what they are looking for this offseason, more than durability and versatility, the buzzword that the Tennessee Titans have used the most is speed.
The problem is, all of the speed receivers are either undersized or they played their college ball inside in the slot. Maybe Tim Kelly will feature the slot receiver more, but a Mike Vrabel team is never going to be top-20 in the NFL in terms of passing attempts, which reduces the role that a slot receiver can have in Nashville.
The most logical conclusion is that the Titans should spend two of their top 100 picks to land receivers that fit their needs, which still gives them a few chances to grab a talented player falling through the cracks assuming that they can actually trade down. However, if a good player falls into Tennessee’s lap at 11, would they still trade down to add more picks?
It is easy to look at the draft and predict which positions Titans should be targetting and what boxes they need to check, but it is going to get very tricky on draft day trying to navigate those needs while also trying to predict how the rest of the teams are going to attack the draft.
Unless they are planning to line Okonkwo up as the WR2 this season, the Titans have painted themselves into a corner where they are going to be forced to reach for a receiver and skip out on a better player at a lesser position of need or miss out on potential blue-chip players at 11 by trading down.
There is still some time left before the draft and maybe someone like Corey Davis, Courtland Sutton, DeVante Parker, or Cedric Wilson Jr. either gets cut or traded. However, every day it gets a little less likely that the Tennessee Titans are going to be able to find their way out of this and that they are going to walk into the 2023 season doomed to fail because of their inaction at the receiver position.