The Tennessee Titans’ experiences throughout the 2022 NFL Draft could be best described as a rollercoaster. It began with an undeniable blow when General Manager Jon Robinson traded disgruntled superstar receiver A.J. Brown to the Philadelphia Eagles in exchange for a first-round selection. Tennessee immediately filled the void Brown left behind by drafting what’s essentially his replacement at receiver. From there, Robinson maneuvered up-and-down the board, trading back when necessary, while also showing the aggression necessary to trade up and grab falling targets. All in all, the 2022 NFL Draft afforded the Tennessee Titans an opportunity to begin a soft rebuilding period that should make them favorites to win the AFC South for a third consecutive season, while also keeping 2023 and beyond in mind. Let’s examine my Titans 2022 draft grades.
Round 1 (No. 18 overall): Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas
The Titans immediately replaced Brown by drafting Treylon Burks with the first-round selection they acquired from the Eagles. It places a ton of pressure on Burks’ rookie campaign but the physically imposing receiver is an excellent fit for Tennessee’s offensive scheme. Look for Burks to run a lot of the similar glance-and-over routes Brown was tasked with executing in Tennessee’s play-action-heavy passing attack. Burks’ best pro comparison may be Brown, who he’s now ironically tasked with replacing. He’s built similarly and carries many of Brown’s similar traits. It’s no surprise the Titans fell in love with him throughout the pre-draft process. Burks now joins forces with Robert Woods, who the Titans acquired from the Los Angeles Rams earlier this offseason, in a completely revamped receiver room.
Round 2 (No. 35 overall): Roger McCreary, CB, Auburn
This pick was quite the surprise given the amount of draft capital Tennessee has successfully invested into the cornerback position as of late. Robinson drafted Caleb Farley and Elijah Molden with top-100 selections in 2021. Molden quickly emerged as the team’s starting nickel cornerback last season. Farley always carried a significant amount of injury-related-risk and those concerns were further magnified by a mid-season-ending knee injury last season. Robinson also drafted Kristian Fulton in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft and Fulton became a shutdown boundary cornerback last season. McCreary makes four top-100 picks at cornerback over the previous three drafts. It becomes somewhat peculiar when weighing that two of those previous three selections have already successfully panned out and it’s far too early to write Farley off.
Many analysts believe you can never have too many cornerbacks in today’s pass-happy league. From a player grading standpoint, McCreary is a feisty and competitive cover-man that possesses the short-area quickness and reactive athleticism necessary to stay within opposing receiver’s hip pocket and compete at the catch point. It’s fair to question the allocation of resources, but there’s no denying McCreary’s impressive make-up as a prospect.
Round 3 (No. 69 overall): Nicholas Petit-Frere, OT, Ohio State
Tennessee has really struggled to find a right tackle opposite the reliable Taylor Lewan as of late. The 2020 first-round selection of Isaiah Wilson is one of the biggest draft-related disasters in recent memory. The Titans have since started veteran journeymen Dennis Kelly and David Quessenberry for a season apiece before waving goodbye to them in unrestricted free agency. The Titans drafted another tackle in Dillon Radunz during the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft, but Radunz’s future is unclear at the moment. As a rookie, he split time between tackle and guard throughout preseason and practice, and rarely saw the field during the regular season. It’s forced Robinson to invest even more draft capital at tackle here.
It will be interesting to monitor whether Petit-Frere is viewed as the team’s immediate starting right tackle or as a future replacement for the aging and expensive Taylor Lewan on the blindside. Petit-Frere has experience at both left and right tackle, so either outcome is realistic. The 6-foot-5, 316-pound Tampa, Florida native possesses exceptional natural physical tools. He’s also an excellent fit for Tennessee’s zone-heavy scheme.
Round 3 (No. 86 overall): Malik Willis, QB, Liberty
This was certainly the selection that has Titans fans most excited. Former Liberty quarterback Malik Willis was largely expected to be the first quarterback drafted during the 2022 NFL Draft. Our TDN Scouting Staff ranked Willis as the No. 1 quarterback in the class. Many mock drafts had Willis going as high as No. 2 overall to the Detroit Lions. It was a massive surprise to witness Willis still available in the middle of the third round. Robinson promptly traded up in order to draft him.
Starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill is beginning to reach the end of his line and the Titans could realistically release him from his high-priced contract following the conclusion of the 2022 season. The Titans low-key needed to begin thinking about finding a long-term solution at quarterback and Robinson has taken a low-risk swing-for-the-fences chance here by drafting Willis with the No. 86 overall selection. Willis possesses the raw arm talent and overall physical tools necessary to develop into a high-level starting quarterback should he manage to clean up some of his technical and processing warts. Willis’ off-script ability is extremely exciting and he will be afforded the opportunity to sit and develop behind Tannehill.
Should Willis successfully develop into Tennessee’s quarterback of the future, this draft class will be viewed as the ultimate home-run.
Round 4 (No. 131 overall): Hassan Haskins, RB, Michigan
The Titans needed to think about finding a backup running back to Derrick Henry following their decision to let D’Onta Foreman walk in free agency. This selection is also a result of missing on Darrynton Evans in the 2020 NFL Draft, who the team has already released following Evans’ inability to stay healthy and committed. Haskins is an excellent fit for Tennessee’s culture and offensive approach. He’s a tough, physical and punishing runner that keeps his legs churning through contact. The Titans love to wear down opposing defenses with their running attack. Having to tackle Haskins while Henry catches a breather on the sidelines does not sound like a fun exercise. Haskins is also excellent in pass protection and can catch the football as a check-down option.
Round 4 (No. 143 overall): Chigoziem Okonkwo, TE, Maryland
Robinson never replaced Jonnu Smith following his departure to the New England Patriots during the 2021 free agency period. Tennessee’s production from the tight end position suffered greatly as a result. Robinson has recognized the error of his ways. He signed a proven commodity in Austin Hooper earlier this offseason and he’s now drafted an intriguing tight end in Maryland’s Chigoziem Okonkwo who is extremely comparable to Smith from a body type and play style perspective. Oknowko’s run-after-catch and overall big-play ability fits beautifully into a Tennessee offense that’s always prioritized tough-and-physical pass-catchers. It wouldn’t be surprising to witness Okonkwo getting on the field quickly.
Round 5 (No. 163 overall): Kyle Philips, WR, UCLA
Tennessee’s passing offense lacked great production from the slot position last season. Chester Rogers earned the majority of the snaps in the slot and is currently an unrestricted free agent. The Titans aren’t expected to welcome Rogers back into the fold. It potentially creates a quick pathway for Kyle Philips to get on the field. Philips is an outstanding and savvy route runner that understands how to set up opposing cornerbacks. What he lacks in size, he makes up for with technical ability. The Titans formerly employed Adam Humphries, and do hold an appreciation for high-level route runners from the slot. Philips often compares his game to that of Hunter Renfrow and Cole Beasley due to their shared size deficiencies. For every Renfrow and Beasley, there are 10 undersized slot receivers that fail to overcome their size-related disadvantages. It’ll be worth monitoring which side of the coin Philips ends up on.
Round 6 (No. 204 overall): Theo Jackson, S, Tennessee
Robinson has routinely drafted versatile safeties on Day 3 and he continued that tradition by drafting a local prospect in Tennessee’s Theo Jackson on Saturday. Tennessee drafted former Oregon standout safety Brady Breeze in 2021, but Breeze now plays for the Detroit Lions. Jackson could also possibly replace Dane Cruikshank, a former Day 3 draft pick that signed with the Chicago Bears earlier this offseason. Jackson is a do-it-all defender that could compete for reps in the slot or in dime-package looks, while also making an immediate impact via special teams. Robinson has done well to identify these sorts of late-round talents in recent drafts.
Round 6 (No. 219 overall): Chance Campbell, LB, Ole Miss
The Titans needed a depth linebacker after allowing veterans Rashaan Evans and Jayon Brown to depart the franchise in free agency. Robinson has experienced success with drafting linebackers on Day Three, previously hitting on Brown and David Long Jr. Chance Campbell is an excellent athlete for the position. The 6-foot-2, 232-pound Campbell enjoyed an eye-opening NFL Scouting Combine by running the 40-yard dash in 4.57 seconds, vertically jumping 39.5 inches and recording a broad jump of 127 inches. All three results are elite outputs. Campbell recorded an astounding 127 tackles in his lone season at Ole Miss. His overall profile should allow him to compete for a depth spot on the roster while earning a role on special teams.
The Titans did a fantastic job remaining competitive while simultaneously peeking ahead to the future. Most of their selections were picked in the appropriate range, and they potentially landed a mid-round steal in Willis. Robinson identified ideal system fits in the mid-rounds such as Petit-Frere, Haskins, and Okonkwo. I’m handing out a rather conservative “B,” but this class has the potential to develop into an “A-plus” should Willis and Burks pan out.
OVERALL GRADE: B
- Aug 12, 2022
- Aug 04, 2022