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The 2023 NFL Draft is the first draft for new Tennessee Titans general manager Ran Carthon. The Titans franchise came in with holes to fill after a productive free agency period, and with only six picks navigated the board effectively. This was a deep draft with plenty of talent in each round and here is how the Titans came out on draft weekend.
Round 1, Pick 11: Peter Skoronski, Tackle, Northwestern
Round 2, Pick 33: Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
Round 3, Pick 81: Tyjae Spears, HB, Tulane
Round 5, Pick 147: Josh Whyle, TE, Cincinnati
Round 6, Pick 186: Jaelyn Duncan, Tackle, Maryland
Round 7, Pick 228: Colton Dowell, WR, UT Martin
Tennessee came into the draft needing to address the offensive line in the worst way. Last season the Titans suffered from injuries and depth issues along the offensive line which contributed to poor play.
The offensive line for Tennessee ranked 32nd according to Pro Football Focus. That came after the Titans gave up 172 pressures on 531 pass-blocking snaps. That means that Titans quarterbacks were being pressured on 32% of their drop backs. They also were dead last in rush yards before contact, one yard, that contributed to the Titans being ranked 30th out of 32 teams on offense.
With those results, Tennessee used all six of their picks on offense. The first two picks were probably the most impactful.
Peter Skoronski, or “Big Ski” as he is affectionately known, was the top pick for the Titans. Skoronski was graded as the second best tackle in the draft and is a Mike Vrabel guy through and through. After the loss of long-time left tackle Taylor Lewan, the Titans draft his replacement. Though there are concerns on his shorter arms (32 1/8”), there are tackles who have played the game with shorter arm length. Donald Penn had a 13 year career with 33” arms. If Skoronski turns out to be anywhere near the player Penn was, the Titans should be happy.
By many standards Tennessee Titans had reached their ceiling with Ryan Tannehill under center. With the new regime coming in, there was a feeling that they were going to bring in a new QB. In the second round the Titans selected Kentucky signal caller Will Levis. Levis was considered one of the top five quarterbacks in the draft and fell to the second round, where the Titans traded up to get him. His size, arm strength and athleticism all measure off the chart. He played 2022 injured but showed elite traits in 2021 when he was healthy. Levis comes into the perfect situation as he gets to learn behind Tannehill and doesn’t have to play immediately. This could also play out like Ryan Tannehill’s career started, where Levis beats him out to become the starter.
Titans head coach Mike Vrabel said in his end of season presser that he wants to get faster as a team. Tennessee’s third and fifth picks addressed that.
Tyjae Spears is one of the twitchiest backs in the draft and is versatile well. He showed that in his senior bowl performance where he showed his suddenness and pass catching ability. He can run between the tackles and outside which takes some of the weight off of Derrick Henry. He does have concerns about his knees but it hasn’t slowed him down yet.
Josh Whyle is a tight end that has immense talent and size. At 6’6” 249 pounds, Whyle has good burst and willingness to block. His tape shows that he could be a field stretcher and has a lot of elite traits for the position. The Titans strike two years in a row with good late round tight end picks.
Tennessee addressed more needs in the late rounds of the draft.
Tennessee drafted Maryland tackle Jaelyn Duncan in the 6th round. Duncan has all the elite traits you could ask for from a tackle prospect. If not for durability issues many had Duncan graded as high as a 2nd round tackle. His length, strong hands, footwork and vision all point to this being possibly a huge steal for Tennessee.
The Titans needed receiver help severely and they got a boom or bust pick in the 7th round in Colton Dowell. Dowell has good burst, ideal size and good hands but will need time to adjust to the pro game. He can either be a Nicholas Westbrook-Ikhine-esque receiver at his ceiling or a special teams player. Only time will tell what he turns into.
Overall the Tennessee Titans improved and these draft picks should move the needle for them. If there is any knock on this class, it would be the lack of a high profile receiver. Despite that the Titans have improved the outlook on their future and should see better output from their offense in 2023.