1 Thing is already certain about Tennessee Titans first-round pick J.C. Latham

2024 NFL Draft - Portraits
2024 NFL Draft - Portraits / Todd Rosenberg/GettyImages

A month ago, Tennessee Titans fans had to watch as two of their favorite prospects were drafted with the two picks before Ran Carthon was on the clock.

Malik Nabers was an explosive play waiting to happen in college and fans were thrilled about the idea of putting him in a group with two of the best receivers in the NFL.

However, the more that Ran Carthon and Brian Callahan talk, the more it becomes clear that Nabers wasn't going to be an option unless both of their top tackles were off the board.

It is common knowledge at this point that the Titans had similar grades on Joe Alt and J.C. Latham, but there is no question that taking Alt (a left tackle for all three years in college) and plugging him in at left tackle is a much easier projection than taking Latham (who was a right tackle for his whole college career) and moving him over to the left side.

We won't ever know what their draft board looked like, but the decision was made for them when the only player left on the board was Latham.

At the time I was very harsh on the pick for a few reasons. First, switching positions in the NFL is a difficult thing and there is a huge difference between playing left tackle and right tackle. It is like trying to write with your left hand if you are right-handed.

Luckily, the Titans have given themselves the best chance at this by bringing in the best offensive line coach in the NFL (Bill Callahan) who just so happens to be well-versed in transitioning tackles from the right side to the left side.

The second thing was that Latham was universally considered to be a guy who was a good prospect, but not a great one, and guys like Matt Miller, Dane Brugler, Daniel Jeremiah, etc. all had him ranked as a prospect who wasn't a good value with the 7th pick.

For a team that could have used more draft capital either immediately or in the 2025 NFL Draft, it was a risk to take him with the 7th pick instead of trading down to pick up more picks and then taking either Olu Fashanu or Latham later in the draft.

Since the pick, the Titans have made sure to put it out there that Latham was Bill Callahan's favorite offensive line prospect in this draft class. So even if I have issues with the pick, I have always maintained that the most prominent voice in the room for this pick is Bill Callahan so if he likes it, he gets the benefit of the doubt over anyone in the media.

The other major concern that stood out was that Latham skipped all forms of athletic testing during the lead-up to the draft (big red flag) and when you consider his size and the 0% hit rate of first-round OTs his size over the last 10 years, you can see why that is a big concern.

Since we haven't seen Latham in pads yet against actual NFL defenses, this is still a major question mark.

Has Latham answered any of these questions and concerns?

Right now all of those concerns are still real. Bill Callahan's stamp of approval means a great deal, and Latham is going to have as much time as he needs to prove whether he can do it or whether he can't do it in the NFL.

So far, all of the news out of OTAs has been very positive, and that brings me to the entire point of this article. Will Latham be able to play left tackle? Is he going to struggle with quicker pass rushers that can take advantage of his issue with oversetting? Is he going to be the best tackle in this draft class? Despite the strong start, we don't know the answers to any of that right now.

The one thing that we can already say about Latham is that he isn't going to be a bust. Latham has already shown that he is too talented, too coachable, and he puts in too much effort to end up as a bust.

I don't want to make too much of hitting a sled, but Tennessee Titans fans have quickly learned the names of Olga and Bertha, Bill Callahan's tools of destruction on the practice field.

These things are nearly 400 lb. and they are built to make offensive linemen look stupid because the second that the lineman starts to lose their form the back of the sled either digs into the ground to stop their progress or the weight shifts and forces the linemen to start turning in a circle.

It is nearly impossible to get this thing to move on a straight line without fixing one of these issues, and in just a few weeks Latham has mastered it. Look at the clip below:

Forget all of the throws, forget the routes, forget cuts from running backs or interceptions from DBs, I have not seen a single clip from any team during OTAs that is more impressive than what Latham did right there and it is a massive improvement from where he started.

I can't tell you whether he will be a left tackle like Tyron Smith, a right tackle like Lane Johnson, or a guard like Brandon Scherff. What I can tell you is that someone with his physical traits, his pedigree, and his coachability combined with the best offensive line coach in the NFL, will be a good player somewhere on the offensive line.

At the very least, he is going to be a player that the Titans will consider using the fifth-year option on, and that is a win for this franchise.