That’s a wrap on the 2022 NFL Draft for the Tennessee Titans.
After a worrying beginning — one that included the trade of young, star receiver A.J Brown — Tennessee rebounded, and put together a rather decent draft class.
From Brown’s replacement in Treylon Burks, to the franchise’s next potential franchise quarterback in Malik Willis, this specific draft class could certainly go down as the class that jumpstarted a new era of Titans football.
Let’s grade each and every pick.
Treylon Burks, wide receiver, Arkansas
On the heels of Brown’s move to the Philadelphia Eagles, the Titans quickly went to work and drafted his replacement in former Arkansas receiver Treylon Burks.
Burks is a physical, big bodied receiver that can move very well for his size. His size also makes him a big time threat after the catch, hence one of his most positive traits is being able to rack up yards after the catch as a ball carrier.
He still has some room to grow as a route runner, but that can come with time with development. But because Burks himself has been lauded the Brown replacement, some thick expectations have been placed on his shoulders.
It isn’t his fault, the Titans knew the risks when they voluntarily put themselves in this position. However, I’m not sure they realized the consequences that could potentially come as a result.
Burks might not to be the consistent gamebreaker Brown was from day one. He needs some more work, and adjustments to the NFL aren’t always easy, even for the best of prospects.
Because of that, it’d be wise to temper your expectations regarding Burks’ potential to heavily contribute from the jump.
And that isn’t good for a team that needs sizable contributions from everyone to keep their offense somewhat fluid to navigate through the now difficult looking 2022 season.
Burks still has a shot to develop into a fine football player, there’s no doubt about that. But the Titans might not begin to see the full return on their investment in 2022.
Roger McCreary, cornerback, Auburn
In round two, the Titans had a plethora of options to choose from.
The unexpected slide of quarterback prospects continued, which put Tennessee on the radar to potentially draft one, given their open “love” for quarterback prospects this year. They also had some receiver prospects to choose from, as the depth behind Robert Woods and Treylon Burks still left much to be desired.
There was also some intrigue surrounding offensive line prospects, as the Titans were still without concrete solutions for their holes at left guard and right tackle.
But instead of addressing any of those spots, Jon Robinson elected to draft a position we didn’t expect them to target so early in the draft.
Cornerback. Yes, you read that right, cornerback.
Roger McCreary out of Auburn was the selection in round two, but many didn’t understand why. The Titans’ corner group is young and full of talent. Kristian Fulton, Caleb Farley, and Elijah Molden all are expected to either retain their significant roles or receive significant snaps this upcoming season.
So why add another corner to the room? Specifically, a young corner you used expensive draft capital to acquire. Well, we just don’t know.
Maybe the Titans are adding insurance for Farley, just in case his medical situation spins out of control or his play on the field simply fails to impress. Or, just to add some more competition to a young defensive back group.
But even then, the latter reason would’ve made more sense with a corner drafted in the later rounds, or another inexpensive veteran.
Either way, this selection was confusing. I assume Mike Vrabel and his staff will certainly have a plan in place for him. But until we hear of that plan, this selection still remains somewhat unnecessary.
Nicholas Petit-Frere, offensive tackle, Ohio State
This selection is a bit dodgy, simply because some potential exists for Petit-Frere to develop into a serviceable tackle option for the Titans. However, since the Titans still don’t have a starting right tackle, fear exists that Petit-Frere could be thrown into the fire.
The latter scenario certainly doesn’t seem likely as of now. But there’s no word on who the Titans like for the job, so the possibility still exists.
As for the player, Petit-Frere certainly has some desirable traits. He’s a good athlete, the technical aspect of his game can be worked with, and he played at multiple positions along Ohio State’s offensive line throughout his collegiate career.
But is he ready to play now? That remains the big question, a question I don’t think we’ll receive the answer to until training camp begins in late July.
Grade: C+, bordering a B-
Malik Willis, quarterback, Liberty
No one expected Willis to slide as far as he did. He was rumored to be selected as high as second overall, so to suddenly watch a prospect fall as far as he did was shocking.
But the Titans somehow got him in the third round — after they traded up to select him — which is tremendous value for the position and upside Willis brings to the table.
He has explosive athleticism for the quarterback position, a strong arm, and a knack for making big plays completely out of structure. But for the positives Willis brings, his negatives stand out just as much.
He’s extremely turnover prone, his mechanics needs a good bit of work, and his understanding of pro level concepts and professional quarterback play is questionable due to the simplistic offense he played in at Liberty. These were negatives that were already known before the draft began, but for the sake of the hype surrounding the pick, it’s best to bring these up again before any hoopla about a quarterback controversy begins.
If the everything goes according to plan, Willis will sit for the entirety of the 2022 season, learning behind Ryan Tannehill and building up his stature as an NFL quarterback.
After that, who knows. He could start in 2023, considering the Titans can get rid of Tannehill’s contract without eating an exceptional amount of money. But that’s so far away, that it’d be foolish to assume anything.
But this is still a great pick with great value. Kudos to Jon Robinson for waiting, and pouncing on the opportunity to bring him to Nashville.
Hassan Haskins, running back, Michigan
Most of us didn’t expect the Titans to address the running back spot in the middle rounds.
They already have Derrick Henry, as well as Dontrell Hilliard and Jordan Haskins to provide backup. But the Titans felt they needed another back, so they drafted Hassan Haskins out of Michigan.
Haskins is a classic north-south runner with a robust running style. The former Wolverine also ran quite a bit of routes during his time at Michigan, so his viability as a route runner can’t be ignored either.
It’s hard to say what his role will be, but if all goes well, he could be in line for some backup duties at running back. Likely similar to the role D’Onta Foreman had when Derrick Henry returned from injury this past January.
But Haskins’ best route for early playing time will come on special teams, a role he played well in during his time at Michigan.
Chigoziem Okonkwo, tight end, Maryland
When tight ends began falling off the board in fourth round, concern began to arise regarding if the Titans would be able to select one without reaching.
Luckily for the Titans, they were able to pick one that made a lot of sense for them. Chigoziem Okonko won’t be ready for a significant snap load right away. But his above average pass catching skills and athleticism for the position will undoubtedly be used once the season beings, barring any unforeseen circumstances.
He’s still undersized though, and needs to add some weight in order to consistently block well in the NFL. But you can always add weight and eliminate any deficiencies he might have as a blocker with coaching, so everything should be all good on that end.
Kyle Phillips, wide receiver, UCLA
The Titans waited until the fifth round to add another receiver to the mix.
Kyle Phillips is a slot specific receiver that could push for a roster spot by the time camp ends, due to the fact that the depth behind Woods and Burks is somewhat questionable. But like Haskins, he’ll likely only be able to push for a roster spot on special teams. Specifically as a punt returner, since Phillips saw a lot of time there during his time at UCLA.
Theo Jackson, defensive back, Tennessee
Jackson is an experienced, versatile defensive back that could make the Titans’ final 53 man roster.
He’s a reliable tackler, an highly desirable trait for defensive backs. His ball skills aren’t bad either, as the former Vol finished with 13 pass deflections during his final year at Tennessee.
Experienced defensive backs with decent balls skills and the ability to tackle are always in need, whether that defensive back traditionally plays on defense or on special teams.
This wasn’t a bad selection by the Titans, one that could actually pay off if Jackson can get up to speed quickly defensively.
Chance Campbell, linebacker, Ole Miss
Campbell is a physical, tackling machine that could carve out a special teams role.
He has the tackling prowess for it, and his motor seems good for it as well. He’s unlikely to secure a strict defensive role, as the inside linebacker spot is stocked to the brim.
But special teams could really become his calling card, if he works at it that is.