S.W.O.T. Analysis: Tight End

The legal tampering period of free agency starts Monday, March 14. It will be here in no time. So it’s time to take a look at the state of the Titans’s roster is currently at, and what could be in store for the future.

To do that we are going to use tried and true method of analysis used in business, a S.W.O.T. analysis. For those not familiar with this I will keep it simple a S.W.O.T. analysis analyzes the strength, weakness, opportunities, and threats to either a business, strategy, product, etc. 

For analyzing the Titans position groups, I will be selecting one thing to highlight under each category:

  • Strength: What is the main strength of the position group heading into 2022
  • Weakness: What is the biggest weakness of the position group heading into 2022
  • Opportunity: What’s an area of opportunity that the position group can improve upon, or an opportunity the team can exploit to improve
  • Threat: What is an external or internal threat to the position group that can bring them crashing down

Previous position groups covered:

Today I just go into one of the worst position groups in the history of the Tennessee Titans: Tight Ends.

Position Review

This position group absolutely was garbage. Her’s a quick breakdown of each tight end:

  • Geoff Swaim, while some what reliable, was running like he had concrete blocks on his feet and trying to escape quicksand.
  • MyCole Pruitt who was absolutely the best of the bunch, was rarely used, and then was injured.
  • Anthony Firkser., a fan favorite turned quickly turned into a pariah. He routinely destroyed drives with his hands covered in whale blubber.

It was a masterclass in how not to construct a tight end room, by the Titans front office. Who overestimated the talent of this trio, while also underestimating the importance of having a quality tight end.

Which is insane to think about, being that under his term as general manager, he has had the likes of both Delanie Walker and Jonnu Smith. Dependable players who can both catch and block, and have some explosive plays in a game when needed.

Robinson gets an F for the way he decided to just ignore this position group in the 2021 offseason, there were plays and drives that could’ve given the Titans an extra push to win games. Instead, he decided to head into 2021 rostering players with the talent of those mid-30s losers with dad bods, but aren’t dads, who throw the football to each other in the tailgating parking lots of Nissan Stadium.

Position Preview

  • Positional Spending: $3,140,000 (27th)
  • Top Cap Hit: Ryan Izzo ($895,000)
  • Under Contract
    • Ryan Izzo: Cares
    • Tommy Hudson: Nope
    • Briley Moore: Buh Bye
    • Austin Fort: Nah Brah
  • Pending Free Agents
    • Anthony Firsker: PEACE OUT
    • Geoff Swaim: GOOD RIDDANCE
    • MyCole Pruitt: I wish you the best of luck

This room sucks. And none of the players listed above should be allowed in two-tone blue for 2022. So instead of previewing the TE position in this section, lets all take a minute and laugh at the Patriots.

They are currently spending $31.3 million on the tight end position in 2022. That is tops in the league, obviously. The team spending the second most on tight ends is the Baltimore Ravens with $19.1 million.

The Patriots locked themselves into Jonnu unless they can somehow find a trade partner, because any scenario where they release him they end up losing cap space in 2022. What a disaster.

Strength: A Fresh Start

The only strength of this position group is that nobody from 2021 has to be back. The Titans have a chance at a completely fresh start, and need to look at it from that perspective.

There is absolutely no reason any of these thieves of joy should be back. Free agency and the draft are both loaded with players who are several tiers above anything we all watched last year, and they can absolutely be affordable.

Rumors are Dalton Schultz will not be tagged, and that helps the market. I talk a lot about the NFL and the parallels to products a business releases into a market. Supply and demand. The supply for free agent tight ends this year versus last year are light years apart.

What this means is just because the Patriots are absolute idiots with how they paid their tight ends in free agency last year, doesn’t necessarily mean they reset the market After all, they were ridiculed by many teams last year for this, and then everyone say how Smith essentially did nothing for them.

If I were the Titans, I would grab two actually good free agents, and draft a tight end. Also, get tight ends who can do both blocking, and route running. The offense was way too predictable last year.

I would be extremely happy with Hayden Hurst, OJ Howard, and a drafted tight end.

Weakness: Everything

This position group is a clown car that is on fire careening off a cliff.

Opportunity: The Draft

I mentioned it in the “strengths” section, but this draft is absolutely loaded, just like free agency. In fact if you wanted to build towards the future, you could afford to only sign one free agent tight end, a dual threat guy thats expensive, and draft two tight ends.

The third round is the sweet spot for tight ends this year, because unless you’re getting Kyle Pitts, no one should be drafting a tight end out of this class super high and early. What this means is that tight ends will be pushed down because there’s so many of them.

Jeremy Ruckert, Cade Otton, Greg Dulcich, and possibly even Isaiah Likely or Trey McBride, could all be there in the third. McBride being the least likely to be there.

In the back of my head I think Ruckert is their type of tight end. The Titans have yet to draft a player in Vrabel’s tenure from his alma mater, and while they have a chance to double dip this year, I think Ruckert is a great choice. He’s 6’5″, 250 lbs, and is a reliable pass catcher, and good blocker. If you love Dalton Schultz, Ruckert is the guy you want them to draft.

Likely is a guy that has a super high ceiling as a pass catcher, but he is inconsistent in his blocking. He will need to add some weight to his frame and learn to get dirty in the trenches. his pro comp according to Zierlein is Delanie Walker.

Otton is surprisingly Zierlein’s number one ranked tight end. He is as explosive a tight end as you’ll see, and I think the building blocks are there with blocking fundamentals to improve his major weakness in that area. I’d still be shocked if he was the first tight end off the board, but Zierlein has said himself his rankings are his, but Mock Drafts are what he’s hearing, so it will be interesting to see as we get closer to the draft where Otton falls on his mocks.

Needless to say, there are still several more tight ends that are in this draft I could spend all day talking about, but the opportunity is there for the Titans to grab a young, future impact player for years to come.

Threat: Hubris

Look the only threat is Jon Robinson’s hubris rearing its ugly head. I love Robinson. He’s a fantastic general manager and h’s easily a top five GM in the NFL, but he let this position group b a major blindspot for him in 2021.

Mike, Michael, and myself spent hours on the podcast arguing about whether or not the Titans would add a tight end or go into 2021 with the three they did. It was two (them) versus one (me), and in the Broadway group chat you can add more to the “them” portion.

I get it, GM’s lie all the time, but from my perspective I contended, and was ultimately proven right, that Robinson was happy and comfortable with the tight end room as it was. I wasn’t fine with it, but when predicting roster moves, its not about what we want or like, its about what the team’s viewpoint. To me it was obvious this team viewed the tight end room not being a problem.

Obviously, by all accounts, Robinson was so dead wrong, and even near the trade deadline the conversation popped up again, and I said, again, this team wouldn’t make a trade for a tight end, even though they so desperately need it, because they irrationally love the unlovable losers they rostered.

If this team were to try and run it back, because they feel these guys are good enough, they’re letting their ego get in the way. While this is a threat, I put it at threat level 8a, and not threat level midnight, because Robinson has proved he has no problem swallowing his pride and moving on from players that were an abject disaster.

This tight end room was just that. They were a the Gigli of position groups.

Conclusion

As you can tell, the 2021 tight ends destroyed my otherwise plucky optimism. However, the 2022 season has a chance, and I bet it will, to look totally different from 2021. I think with the additions of actual NFL tight ends in free agency, and future viable tight ends in the draft, the 2022 season will look much better at this spot.

It’s not hard to be better than 2021 because those tight ends were a pile of dripping, messy diapers.

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