NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Titans enter the upcoming season with a variety of holes to fill in order to reach their goal of winning a Super Bowl.
However, the 20 pending unrestricted free agents and a handful of possible roster cuts create the starting point of the offseason hurdles the Titans must strategically navigate to build a championship team.
The Titans might need a pass-rusher if they can’t re-sign outside linebacker Harold Landry III. There could also be changes along the offensive line if free agent center Ben Jones isn’t retained or if the Titans decide to release left guard Rodger Saffold III to clear salary cap space.
The combine, which started this week, is a big part of the evaluation process. NFL teams will have the opportunity to get a deep and in-depth look at top prospects. Some players will help each other during the on-court drills while others will have things to clarify during the interview process.
Here are four players who could help themselves to the scouting combine and become a target for Tennessee in the draft:
AND | Maryland | 6 feet 2 inches, 242 pounds
Losing Jonnu Smith to free agency hurt the Titans more than they bargained for last season. Tennessee tried to employ a combination of Anthony Firkser, Geoff Swaim and MyCole Pruitt on tight end. The trio combined for a total of eight touchdowns, the same amount Smith alone had in 2020.
Smith was a Swiss army knife who lined up everywhere and even took turns. He caused matchup issues and was a prime target in the red zone. Unearthing a player who has a similar skill set is key.
Okonkwo’s versatility has allowed Maryland to employ him in multiple places in the lineup and create lags in the passing game. Like Smith, Okonkwo had the ability to run the ball and has a 54-yard touchdown on his resume.
Okonkwo has played in the slot, out, on the wing, out of the backfield and more. The combine will give Okonkwo the opportunity to show off the athleticism that resulted in 52 receptions for 447 yards and 5 touchdowns. If Okonkwo runs a quick 40, he could skyrocket on the drawing boards.
NFL Draft Player Rankings: 260
WR | Kentucky | 5 feet 11 inches, 185 pounds
The Titans have recently shown a tendency to lean more toward bigger receivers. But they desperately need point guards on offense, and despite being listed at just under 6 feet, Robinson is one of the most electrifying point guards in this year’s draft class. He posted 104 receptions for 1,334 yards and 7 touchdowns in his only season at Kentucky after being traded from Nebraska last year.
Finding a game-changer like Robinson would do wonders for the Titans offense who need to add a dynamic slot receiver who can attack opposing defenses vertically. Robinson’s ability to turn a short pass into a big win is an added bonus.
Robinson’s quickness, speed and agility will be on full display during practice on the court. Pay particular attention to its results in exercises that measure explosiveness, such as the long jump and the vertical.
NFL Draft Player Rankings: N / A
RT | Minnesota | 6 feet 8 inches, 387 pounds
Titans coach Mike Vrabel was wowed by the size of offensive lineman Isaiah Wilson in combined interviews a few years ago. Obviously, that situation didn’t work out, which is why Tennessee is still looking for a good tackle.
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Vrabel will have another chance to measure a mountain of man if they meet Faalele.
Getting an in-person look at Faalele will allow the Titans to better appreciate just how big he is. An offensive lineman of Faalele’s stature would be a welcome presence for Tennessee’s physical offense. Run blocking is Faalele’s greatest strength.
Despite her massive size, there are questions regarding Faalele, especially her movement abilities. It will be important for Faalele to navigate smoothly through the series of exercises and tests before the draft.
NFL Draft Player Rankings: 57
EDGE | Ole Miss | 6 feet 3 inches, 250 pounds
Titans general manager Jon Robinson’s continued quest to find pass throwers could lead them to take a look at Williams, who racked up 12.5 sacks last season. Williams has the talent to contribute immediately, but teams will have to do their homework as he was suspended after being accused of sexual abuse. The charges were dropped and Williams was reinstated in time for his senior year.
A meeting with the Titans during the interview process would give Williams a chance to look them in the face and discuss off-court concerns. The Titans have shown the emotional intelligence to assess prospects who have core issues from the past.
“Is this a mistake or is this a bad person?” Vrabel said to assess prospects with baggage. “If it’s a mistake, you try to fix the mistake. If the guy is a bad guy, then you move on.”
If the meetings go well and the Titans are confident in Williams’ ability to leave the troubles behind, he could be a great value pick.
NFL Draft Player Rankings: 131