The Tennessee Titans are coming straight off their biggest win in almost a year against the Cincinnati Bengals, and heading into their first divisional matchup of the season versus the Indianapolis Colts.
The Colts are being led by their star rookie quarterback, Anthony Richardson, who has commanded an efficient offense thus far despite a somewhat lackluster passing attack.
Now that there are four whole games of tape out there, let’s evaluate some of the Titans’ impact rookies so far this year and compare them to how I viewed them before the season began.
Round 1, Pick 11 — LG Peter Skoronski
Stock: No Change
Peter Skoronski was projected to be one of the surest players in the entire draft, and so far he has been exactly that. Despite only playing in Week 1, Skoronski recorded 0 blown run or pass assignments in 59 snaps and logged an 81.3 PFF grade on a day where the rest of the offensive line got utterly dominated.
I also want to point out that I’m not factoring too much of an impact on his grade here due to his missed time, since an appendix burst is non-football related and shouldn’t affect him long-term.
Overall, a very solid pick for the Tennessee Titans who absolutely needed to revamp the offensive line after abysmal play in the trenches last season.
Round 2, Pick 33 — QB Will Levis
Will Levis is obviously a little bit harder to grade since he hasn’t touched the field, but I think that is exactly the issue with this draft pick.
The Tennessee Titans have made so many “win now” moves, yet spent a high draft pick on a quarterback that can’t even beat Malik Willis for the backup job. Plus, its important to consider the fact that Tennessee spent a 3rd round pick on Willis just this past year, which feels just like poor management of assets.
Generally I like what GM Ran Carthon has done in his short time with the team, but this move still perplexes me.
Round 3, Pick 81 — RB Tyjae Spears
I will admit when I get one wrong, and I think it's very clear that I was wrong about Tyjae Spears.
Spears has been incredibly dynamic with the ball in his hands, and honestly, the Titans are doing themselves a disservice by not getting him even more touches. Regardless, Spears already plays a critical role in this offense and is averaging an astounding 5.15 yards after contact per attempt, which ranks 3rd best of any back in the league.
It is important to note, however, that the reason Spears fell to the 3rd round is because of his lengthy injury history, which includes 2 ACL tears and a meniscus tear all in the same leg. Spears currently has no ACL in his knee and suffers from chronic arthritis. He’s shown no signs of being injury-prone in the NFL yet, so only time will tell whether his body can hold up.
Round 5, Pick 147 — TE Josh Whyle
Josh Whyle is a somewhat difficult pick to evaluate through four weeks.
He was drafted with a 5th-round pick, and generally, TE is one of the hardest positions to adjust to in the NFL, so obviously expectations are a little lower for his initial production. However, with his 6’7, 250 lb frame, it seemed like Whyle had the potential to come straight into the league and be a force as a blocker.
Whyle visibly struggled to make blocks through 3 weeks and was part of the reason why Tannehill was getting pressured so frequently.
To his credit, Whyle did have a breakout game in Week 4 where he caught his first career touchdown on a Derrick Henry jump pass and logged an 86.9 PFF grade.
The jury is still out on Whyle, though, as he simply needs more time on the field to develop.
Round 6, Pick 186 — OT Jaelyn Duncan
There’s not a lot new to say here about Jaelyn Duncan; he is a very raw athlete who possesses all the physical attributes necessary to be a starting OT in the NFL. Duncan has been inactive for each game so far, so it’s hard to get a proper judgment on his development until he sees in-game action.
Round 7, Pick 228 — WR Colton Dowell
Stock: No Change
Similarly, for Dowell, it's hard to give a grade because of the lack of snaps. He did play 43% of special teams snaps in his first active game last week, and he also recorded one target but no receptions on 15 offensive snaps. Dowell is generally being used for blocking situations, although something interesting to note is that his one target was 37 yards downfield, so maybe Tennessee could get him incorporated into the passing game as a potential deep threat.
Overall Draft Grade: B-
I think the Tennessee Titans had a very solid draft, picking up two players who can come in to contribute and improve the team right away, and several more who can develop and potentially play meaningful snaps down the line.
Obviously, the Will Levis pick really hurts my evaluation of this class, as the Titans sacrificed draft material to trade up and pass on big-name additions like Sam LaPorta, Jonathan Mingo, and (potential DPOY) Brian Branch, just to name a few.
Levis doesn’t ruin the class for me though, as I think Skoronski and Spears are both home-run picks that are already paying huge dividends.
Ultimately, I feel good about the culture Carthon is building, and the Tennessee Titans seem to be headed in the right direction with the addition of good, young talent.