Titans TE coach Justin Outten could elevate Chig Okonkwo, Josh Whyle in 2024

Now back in his most familiar role, Tennessee Titans tight ends coach Justin Outten should help ascending talents like Chig Okonkwo and Josh Whyle take developmental steps forward in 2024.
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Jacksonville Jaguars v Houston Texans / Wesley Hitt/GettyImages

The Tennessee Titans did a tremendous job fixing the glaring holes at premium positions throughout this offseason.

In February, the Titans were missing two boundary corners, two wide receivers, and two offensive linemen. By May, they general manager Ran Carthon had acquired L'Jarius Sneed, Chidobe Awuzie, Calvin Ridley, Tyler Boyd, Lloyd Cushenberry, and J.C. Latham.

The Titans made those moves a priority, but as those holes were filled, secondary needs started to get pushed up the list of concerns.

Heading into the season, the most concerning positions on the roster are safety, linebacker, depth at EDGE, and tight end.

Barring a move this summer, those positions are probably going to be the biggest issue for the Titans this season, and they will have to address them next year. The tight end group is a surprise candidate that could take care of itself.

It wasn't that long ago when people were raving about Chig Okonkwo's upside as a receiving threat at the tight end position. That hype crashed after a bumpy start last season, but precious little went right for the Titans' passing game last season, so perhaps he deserves a little bit of grace.

Even after a disappointing season, there are still reasons to be excited about what Okonkwo could develop into. Remember, he is one of just seven tight ends in the NFL that have had 900+ yards and at least eight yards per target over the last two years.

The other six are Travis Kelce (All-Pro), George Kittle (All-Pro), Mark Andrews (All-Pro), Darren Waller (Pro Bowler), Dallas Goedert, and Noah Fant. That is good company to be in as a young tight end on a team that didn't feature him often.

He isn't the only talented tight end on the roster. The Titans also have second-year man Josh Whyle.

Whyle wasn't anything special in 2023, but his season was also marred by injuries after missing a game early with a concussion. Whyle also dealt with a knee injury at the end of the year. The early buzz out of OTAs and minicamp is that Whyle has been impressive while endearing himself to Brian Callahan and the new offense.

Jim Wyatt noted that Whyle looks bigger than he did last season, and he was already tipping the scales at 248 pounds. Even if he only added 10 pounds, you are talking about a guy who is 6-foot-7 and nearly 260.

Both have shown flashes, but you can't earn a spot as a long-term starter if you simply show fleeting moments for two years. This position desperately needs consistency, so the Titans will turn to a familiar face in "new" position coach Justin Outten.

Former running backs coach/run-game coordinator and current tight ends coach Outten didn't have the season he wanted last year, but it is hard to fault him. You could argue that the best position on the Titans roster was the running back position that featured Derrick Henry and Tyjae Spears.

Despite having success in that position, he has much more experience working with tight ends. He spent three years coaching tight ends with the Green Bay Packers before getting hired by the Denver Broncos to be their offensive coordinator.

The Titans have the conditions for a perfect storm at tight end if things go as they should. You combine an offensive-minded head coach, a tight ends coach who has done the job at a high level in the past, and two talented tight ends that complement each other well.

The tandem of Okonkwo and Whyle could surprise a lot of people in a few months.