Handing out the Tennessee Titans 2022 NFL draft grade – or any team’s, really – is a futile prospect this soon in the game. Careers have yet to be played, and we don’t even know how these prospects are going to fit into their current systems. As always, then, handing out draft grades this early in the game is a vanity project.
But, there’s a certain charm in grading a team’s gets immediately after a draft. While careers are unknown, it’s easy to form educated guesses about which direction they’ll take. Those guesses won’t always be right, but they will be good enough to form early judgments.
The Titans had one of the more interesting drafts. While commentators thought they’d draft Texas A&M guard Kenyon Green in the first, they did something far more bold — and foolish.
Titans select Treylon Burks with the 18th pick
Did the Titans select a younger, cheaper version of A.J. Brown? Probably not. But, they weren’t going to pay A.J. Brown the money he thought he could get from another team. So, they traded him to Philadelphia, who immediately gave him $100 million over the next four years.
Compare that with the Titans, who were only going to commit $16 million a year for Brown’s services. Christian Kirk may well have caused the biggest player realignment in living memory, and the Brown trade is fallout from that.
Enter Treylon Burks, who was selected with the 18th overall pick. Burks is a big receiver, weighing in at 225 pounds. The speed he shows in the open field is decent, and he was able to get separation against college defensive backs. What really stands out, however, is his hand strength, which allows him to go up and grab whatever ball he wants.
Those skills propelled him to 11th on my own big board. He’ll be a top NFL receiver, but won’t have quite the same speed or explosiveness that Brown has.
As well as the 18th pick, the Titans also got a third round pick at 101st overall, which was then flipped to the Jets.
There’s no sugarcoating this; the Titans got worse in the first round of the draft. Burks is a wonderful prospect, but arrives in Nashville as an unproven WR2.
Then, the Titans ship out their 26th pick to the Jets
This was actually prudent. After getting their guy in the first round, the Titans were able to move back to 35th overall in the second round. As well as the 35th pick, they got the 69th pick, and the 163rd pick. The Jets got the 26th pick and the 101st pick.
Not spectacular, but good enough for them to get a position of need.
In the second round, the Titans selected Roger McCreary
Jackrabbit Jenkins became a cap casualty, and was cut after just one year with the team. Kristian Fulton was solid last year at corner, while 2021 first rounder Caleb Farley hopes to find the field this year. With only one proven corner, the Titans needed depth.
They got said depth with Roger McCreary. Although McCreary is a 5-foot-11 corner who played mostly in a cover-three scheme at Auburn, he’s got some good tools. His ability to keep strong against bigger opponents will be a plus in the NFL. When he did have the chance to play man-up on someone, he never let receivers get much separation from him.
It’s a perfectly fine selection, and gives you another guy you can spot start if need be. Yet, McCreary is unlikely to be a standout or steal, even if some mocks did have him as a first rounder coming into the draft.
He’s no little brother: Petit-Frere goes 69th overall
The Titans must know they drafted a lemon in 2021.
Coming into 2021, Dillon Radunz was drafted out of corn-fed power North Dakota State, and the Titans hoped he would be a starter. But, 2021 didn’t play out that way for Radunz. The tackle only appeared on offense in six out of 17 contests, and didn’t impress very much when he did get offensive snaps.
With Nicholas Petit-Frere, the Titans hope they’ve solved their right tackle issues.
Petit-Frere is a prototypical tackle at first glance. At 6-foot-5, and weighing 316 pounds, he moves very well. He has great lateral quickness and agility, and can reach block effectively. That skill especially will serve him well with the Titans’ stretch zone run they like to run, which requires a tackle to execute that block consistently.
There are holes in his game, namely how deep he sets up in pass protection. But, he would have been a 2023 first rounder had he stayed, and the Titans can afford to see out his development.
Tennessee gets a tackle who can start right away for them, but also gets the benefit of a high-upside developmental prospect.
The next episode: Malik Willis is a Titan
In the biggest move for the franchise’s direction in this draft, the Titans traded up to get Malik Willis.
Ryan Tannehill will be 34 at the start of the 2022 season. With his age and a relatively streaky 2021 season playing against him, the Titans needed new blood. Tannehill will still be the starter for this season, but Willis will sit behind him and develop as his heir apparent at quarterback.
Willis was projected as a first round pick before the draft. His precipitous drop into the third round speaks more to reality, but he’s still an impressive quarterback prospect. The zip he puts on the ball is unlike anyone else in this class. Most notable though, is his running ability, which is absurd. He is unbelievable in the open field with the football, and is stout enough to take hits.
So what did NFL teams see, then, to cause his drop? His processing under pressure is not always the greatest. He can make basic passing reads, but Liberty’s simplistic offense under Hugh Freeze hurt his ability to learn more advanced passing concepts.
What’s not to like? The Titans are in a win-win situation with Malik Willis. Either he develops well and they got a bargain, or he isn’t the guy, and the Titans only invested a third round pick in him.
Michigan back Hassan Haskins gets drafted at 131st overall
Derrick Henry going down for the Titans last year showed the weakness of the Titans’ offense. With the team acting as an 11-man battering ram, the hope is that Henry’s size and volume will wear down the defensive front seven. The Halloween injury to Henry made the Titans use dollar store versions of Derrick Henry, though. That only got them so far, and they nearly blew the top overall seed because of a sterile, impotent offense.
Hassan Haskins is not Derrick Henry. But, what he showed at Michigan proves he could be a good backup for him. The former Wolverine is massive, coming in at 6-foot-2 and weighing 228 pounds. While not the quickest guy, he has a little open field ability that should be tested out this off-season.
It isn’t an impressive pick, or even really at a position of need. But, it’s an insurance pick, and that’s perfectly suitable for a day three guy.
Maryland tight end Chig Okonkwo gets drafted at 141st overall
A staple of the Titans franchise is a good pass-catching, do-it-all tight end. In an offense where two tight ends are needed, the Titans didn’t have many options after Jonnu Smith left.
Chig Okonkwo, though, is an underrated prospect. He’ll be on the field early and often for the Titans, thanks to his good combination of size and athletic ability. This former Terrapin may blossom in a Titans offense that needs downfield options for Tannehill at tight end.
With their third fifth-round pick, the Titans grabbed receiver Kyle Philips out of UCLA
Receiver depth is looking dire for the Titans in 2022, and Kyle Philips will have a chance to compete for the fourth wide receiver slot right away. While Philips isn’t ever going to be a starter or even a WR3, it’s a fine pick.
Nashville native Theo Jackson heads to Titans in the sixth round
The former Tennessee Volunteer played the nickel corner position in college, and was awarded All-SEC honors for his play. At 6-foot-1 and nearly 200 pounds, Jackson could end up with the same role with the Titans. He could also end up as a fine gunner on special teams.
With their last pick, the Titans selected Ole Miss linebacker Chance Campbell 219th overall
Chance Campbell is worth taking a flyer on, given his production at Ole Miss. But, given his lack of athleticism and pass coverage ability, it will be an uphill battle for him to make the 53-man roster.
The Titans 2022 draft grade is?
There are four potential starters in this class, and two of them will surely start on opening day. Tennessee’s picks were for good value, and that’s boosted their grade as well.
On the downside, Tennessee didn’t get a great return for A.J. Brown, which hurts the Treylon Burks pick significantly. Burks will always carry that trade on his shoulder for as long as he’s a Titan.
Overall, though, the Titans had a solid draft. They’ll get good production from this group in the future.
Titans overall draft grade: B