The Tennessee Titans signed several undrafted free agents at the conclusion of the 2021 NFL Draft. I’m in the middle of interviewing as many of them as I can. I’ll link the previous interviews at the bottom of this post. At least one of these players is going to make the roster. Enjoy!
Former Iowa offensive lineman Cole Banwart is one of those players. Banwart comes in at 6-foot-4 and 300 pounds. He started all eight games for Iowa in 2020, spending time at both left and right tackle.
Banwart recently spoke exclusively with Broadway Sports about how he formed a relationship with the Titans throughout the pre-draft process, what he brings to the table, and which of his new teammates he can’t wait to practice against.
JM: What was draft weekend like for you?
CB: It was crazy. I wasn’t expecting to get drafted. I went in with the right expectations. I was expecting to sign as an undrafted free agent somewhere. I was calm on Thursday and Friday. I was just casually watching the draft. I was paying attention to which teams were drafting offensive lineman. I knew I wasn’t really going to hear anything during those first few rounds. Day 3 is when things started to pick up for me. Saturday was crazy for me. I was constantly getting calls from my agent and from different teams. Teams were texting me about their interest in me. I heard from several teams that wanted to sign me. At the end of the day, I feel really good about my decision. I’m really excited to be a Tennessee Titan.
JM: How did the opportunity with the Titans come about?
CB: Starting from the beginning, my agent and I made a list of which teams made sense for me. We looked at depth charts. We looked at team fits. There were a lot of factors that went into it. The Titans were in our top three. They had started reaching out to me quite a bit. I was getting texts from their local scouts. I had a call from the offensive line coach. As the draft got closer, they kept talking to me. They constantly hit me up. They told me that I was a really good fit. That’s what it came down to. We felt like the Titans were a great choice.
JM: That’s terrific. It sounds like you spoke with offensive line coach Keith Carter. Who else did you speak with, and what were those conversations like?
CB: It started off with a couple of text messages. They just needed some basic information on me at first. Things like my full name, injury history and things of that nature. I then started having some discussions with the area scouts. They would call me and ask questions about my position. They wanted to know if I was comfortable playing multiple positions. They wanted to know if I was versatile and could play across the O-line. As we got closer to the draft, that’s when coach Carter called me. He wanted to get to know me a little bit more. We had some personal conversations about our values. It wasn’t just about football. At the end, we started talking about football. We discussed the offense. That was pretty much it.
JM: It sounds like you had some great conversations. You said that you put together a list of some of the best fits and the Titans were in your top three. Why did you feel that way?
CB: Looking at it from a depth perspective, that was one thing. I feel comfortable with what they do on offense. I felt like we did some similar things at Iowa. I was very comfortable in that style of offense. I was known for it. I love the offense. It’s a good fit for me. I shouldn’t have any issues learning the playbook. Of course the language is different. I should fully grasp the offense in an efficient manner. I’m gonna quickly become a better player.
I just love the coaching staff. They have a fiery style. They work hard to develop their players on a daily basis.
JM: I love that you talked about the fit. You played some left guard and right guard at Iowa. The Titans have asked you about your ability to play center as well. What is your best fit at the next level?
CB: I’ve spent most of my time at right guard so that’s probably my most comfortable position. I’m incredibly capable of playing all three positions across the interior, though. I’ve played left guard. I was the backup center for four years at Iowa. I’ve taken a ton of reps at the position. I’m very comfortable at center. I’ll do whatever it takes to get on the field. Whatever the coaching staff asks of me, that’s what I’m going to do. I’ll play it all. I’m just looking for an opportunity.
JM: Tell me a little about the mentality it takes to become a good offensive lineman.
CB: You have to be wired a little differently. You have to be tough and physical. You might get knocked down. The most important thing is that you get right back up ready to battle on the next play. You have to be physical. Some guys are gonna hit you hard. You gotta hit them even harder. You also have to be smart. There’s a lot going on across the line of scrimmage. A lot of people don’t see everything that happens in the trenches. It’s the little things. If you can read the play before it happens, if you can recognize blitzes and packages pre-snap, you’re in a position to win the rep. Sometimes, you can tell that the D-lineman is going to work an inside move. These little tells give you an advantage. Take what the defense gives you. It’ll help you in the long run. You have to be smart and aware of your surroundings.
JM: That’s a great answer. What are you most excited for?
CB: I think any good offense looks to get the defense running and moving around. That’s just generally speaking. That way, it doesn’t require as much hard, downhill running. I love getting a chance to showcase my athletic ability in an offense. I have to be able to get out and run. I have to reach the defensive lineman on the move. I enjoy being asked to do that. If you can get the defensive lineman to reach, we can cut the defense off as a unit. That’s when the running back breaks the hole and takes it for a big gain.
JM: You’ll be blocking for a pretty good running back in Derrick Henry. I don’t know how well you know the Titans roster, but is there a teammate you’re excited to practice against or learn from?
CB: We played against Mississippi State in the Outback Bowl in my third year at Iowa. Jeffery Simmons lined up across from me quite a bit in that game. I’ll be honest with you. I think he won about 99% of those snaps (laughs). It would be fun to get back out there and compete against him. He’s really, really good. He would help make me a better player. I’d be really excited to practice against him.
JM: That’s a great choice. I’ve really appreciated your time today. In closing, what are your goals and aspirations like over these next few months?
CB: I’m really just focused on getting better and trying to make the team. Those are my goals for the next few months. I’m going to prove that I belong in the NFL. I’m gonna work hard for this coaching staff. I’m gonna be physical and earn a spot on the roster.
Previous 2021 UDFA interviews: