The Tennessee Titans are going to need to add at least one quality interior offensive linemen this offseason. Starting right guard Nate Davis and backup swing player Aaron Brewer are the only two interior players who are essentially guaranteed to return to the Titans in 2022. Starting center Ben Jones is scheduled to reach free agency, and left guard Rodger Saffold unfortunately qualifies as a prime candidate to be released this offseason. The Titans will likely have interest in retaining Jones, and I do expect him back in Tennessee next season, but nothing is guaranteed until it happens. Saffold’s release would free up a sizable chunk of change while leaving behind a dead cap hit of just $2.3 million, via Spotrac. Saffold is still playing at a starting level, but the Titans will have to get somewhat creative this offseason while navigating some salary cap difficulties. General manager Jon Robinson has shown a willingness to release aging players with large cap hits in the past (Jurrell Casey and Malcolm Butler come to mind), and the often-injured, soon-to-be-33-year-old-Saffold may soon be joining this list.
Even if both Saffold and Jones were to return to the Titans in 2022, a scenario I consider largely unlikely, the Titans must begin thinking about the future of the left guard and center position. It may not require urgent addressing, say via a first-round selection or high-priced free agent, but Robinson should absolutely draft a high-upside interior player somewhere in-between the second and fourth round. Yes, the Titans don’t currently own a second-round pick due to the Julio Jones trade, but Robinson could always acquire one via a draft-day trade back.
When analyzing the group of mid-round offensive linemen, Memphis’ Dylan Parham sticks out for reasons well beyond the obvious local connections. Parham recently boosted his draft stock by experiencing an excellent week of practice at this year’s Senior Bowl while playing both guard and center. That type of versatility is always welcomed by NFL teams, and it should especially intrigue the Titans given their potential needs at both positions. Parham was also a big winner throughout the weigh-in process after clocking in at 313 pounds. It was a notable victory for him, seeing that he was listed at 285 pounds on Memphis’ official website. Parham has undeniably bulked up for the pre-draft process, and it will do his draft stock a favor.
Parham started 11 contests at right guard for the Tigers and didn’t allow a single sack in 545 pass protection snaps, per the Tigers’ official website. Parham allowed just two quarterback hits in 2021. In 2020, Parham started 11 games at right tackle. In 2019, he started 14 contests at left guard. Parham started at three different positions in his final three seasons at Memphis. At the Senior Bowl, he flashed the potential to play center. Have I mentioned versatility yet?
On film, Parham plays the game with the type of nasty competitiveness and aggressive demeanor teams especially value on the offensive line. He possesses extremely powerful hands with the ability to shock defenders and move them off their spot in the run game, where he does his best work as a player. Parham is extremely light on his feet and possesses the athletic ability and lateral mobility to project nicely in Tennessee’s outside zone running scheme.
Parham makes sense for the Titans for a number of reasons. The Titans are surely extremely familiar with Parham, given his close proximity to Nashville, and they likely interviewed him at the Senior Bowl, where Robinson has often identified future Titans. Parham possesses the ability to play all three positions across the interior of the offensive line and his positional versatility would award Tennessee multiple options throughout training camp for Mike Vrabel and offensive line coach Keith Carter to figure out which combination works best inside.
Robinson has always prioritized offensive linemen. Robinson drafted Jack Conklin, Isaiah Wilson and Dillon Radunz with premium selections. Nate Davis was a third-round pick, and Robinson has signed Jones and Saffold to lucrative contracts throughout his tenure. Robinson will realize the immediate need inside and I’d be shocked if he didn’t address the future of those positions in some capacity this offseason.
Titans fans should get familiar with Parham, and we’d have every reason to be encouraged if Parham becomes a Titan in 2022.