The Tennessee Titans have a sizable need at the offensive tackle position. New general manager Ran Carthon signed Andre Dillard to a three-year bridge-type contract in an attempt to solve last season’s woes at left tackle. Dillard isn’t a sure thing. On the right side, Nicholas Petit-Frere is equally as questionable after suffering through a nightmarish campaign in 2022. Petit-Frere allowed 35 pressures, 5.0 sacks and was whistled for eight penalties en route to scoring a pass-blocking grade of 50.0 from Pro Football Focus.
The calendar has officially flipped to April and my intention is to educate our readers with different prospects the Titans could theoretically target at positions of need in each round of the 2023 NFL Draft. That’s the inspiration behind this month-long series. With that said, I’ve identified a potential offensive tackle target in every round.
First Round: Paris Johnson Jr. | Ohio State
Paris Johnson Jr. has been frequently mocked to the Titans throughout the mock-draft process and it’s easy to understand why. The Titans entered free agency with a clear need at left tackle after releasing Taylor Lewan. Dillard’s signing muddied the waters a bit, but the Titans could still target an offensive tackle with the 11th overall selection.
Dillard’s contract indicates the Titans don’t view him as a long-term starter. Signing Dillard expanded Tennessee’s first-round possibilities. They don’t need to draft a left tackle at 11 anymore, but Johnson is still a decent bet to command their attention. Johnson’s raw athleticism screams multiple Pro Bowls.
Second Round: Dawand Jones | Ohio State
From one Ohio State bookend to another, Dawand Jones received some first-round buzz throughout the Senior Bowl, but that chatter has dwindled in recent weeks. Jones has likely been passed over by the likes of Oklahoma’s Anton Harrison and Tennessee’s Darnell Wright, who have sneaked into the top-32 conversation. Jones could be available when the Titans come on clock at No. 41 overall.
Tennessee’s interest in Jones may depend on Mike Vrabel’s opinion of Petit-Frere. Was 2022 just a rough rookie campaign? Could Petit-Frere kick inside to one of Tennessee’s two vacant guard positions? Jones is expected to exclusively play right tackle in the NFL.
Third Round: Tyler Steen | Alabama
Alabama’s Tyler Steen has gotten some top-64 buzz, but I think the third round is a distinct possibility. A 6-foot-6, 325 pound specimen, Steen played 30 games locally at Vanderbilt before transferring to Alabama. Steen then later proved he possesses Crimson Tide-level capabilities.
Steen has consistently shown improvement. He’s flashed necessary athleticism with terrific foot quickness and the reaction athleticism necessary to stay at tackle despite modest arm length (33 inches). Steen is particularly excellent as a run blocker, and I expect the Titans to maintain their run-heavy identity with Derrick Henry in 2023.
Fourth Round: Blake Freeland | BYU
Blake Freeland possesses dream-like measurements. Freeland’s verified measurements at the NFL Scouting Combine were 6-foot-7, 312 pounds with 34-inch arms and a near 83-inch wingspan. Freeland is an exceptional athlete that tested in the 93rd percentile in the 40 yard dash (4.98), 99th percentile in the vertical jump (37 inches), 98th percentile in the broad jump (120 inches) and 92nd percentile in the 10 yard split (1.68).
Freeland’s athletic profile makes him an excellent fit for Tennessee’s zone-based concepts. So why would Freeland be available in the fourth round? Freeland didn’t enjoy a fruitful showing at this year’s Senior Bowl, especially in pass protection where foot speed around the edge gave him fits. Mobile is a difficult environment for tackles. Freeland fits Tennessee’s identity.
Fifth Round: Warren McClendon | Georgia
Warren McClendon is a three-year starter at Georgia and two-time National Championship winner. McClendon has 34 inch arms, but is largely considered underweight (290) for an offensive tackle prospect. McClendon must make some technical adjustments, but he possesses a red-hot motor in the run game.
Sixth Round: Carter Warren | Pittsburgh
Carter Warren is a 39-game starter, but injury limited him to four appearances in 2022. Warren was excellent in pass protection and has positional versatility, having played both left and right tackle for the Panthers. Warren is an older rookie (25), and his injury could lead to late Day Three availability.
Seventh Round: BJ Wilson | Quincy
BJ Wilson is a deep D-II sleeper I wanted to showcase. Wilson didn’t begin playing on the offensive line until college. But Wilson has intriguing moldable traits with 37 inch arms and an 84 inch wingspan. Wilson once appeared on Bruce Feldman’s acclaimed “Freaks List” and participated in this year’s Shrine Bowl despite an injury that limited his physical participation.