Why Dillon Radunz was the right pick for the Titans, from the man who helped mold him

The Tennessee Titans used their second round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft on North Dakota State offensive tackle Dillon Radunz. Given the need at right tackle that remains after last year’s Isaiah Wilson fiasco paired with the release of Dennis Kelly, it’s easy to understand why the Titans decided to spend another premium pick on an offensive tackle. Radunz is an excellent athlete that fits the Titans scheme like a glove.

I wanted to learn more about what the Titans are getting in Radunz, and who better to do that with than the his head coach at North Dakota State? Coach Matt Entz has coached at NDSU since 2014. He was the team’s defensive coordinator until they promoted him to head coach ahead of the 2019 season.

Coach Entz had a front-row seat to Radunz’s development. His path to becoming a second round pick came through loads of hard work and dedication, and it wasn’t always easy. Coach Entz and I discussed Radunz’s development and work ethic, the physical traits he brings to the game, and why Tennessee was the perfect landing spot for him.

JM: Dillon Radunz played left tackle at North Dakota State. The Titans are going to ask him to play right tackle at the next level. What’s your philosophy on an offensive tackle switching sides, and how do you think Radunz will handle the change?

CME: You’re correct. He played left tackle for us here at NDSU. We’ve always had right-handed quarterbacks. We wanted to protect their blindside. We always felt that Radunz was going to give us the best shot at doing that successfully. Our thought process here is that if we’re going to hit it big on one offensive line position, it has to be left tackle. That’s the type of faith we had in Radunz.

In terms of him switching to the right, I don’t see any reason to be concerned with that. He shouldn’t have an issue moving to right tackle. Yes, it’s a different stance. It’s a different post-leg in protection. You’re talking about a young man that has a ton of snaps under his belt. He’s an extremely coachable kid. He loves to learn. I would anticipate that he spent this past offseason developing and working on himself. I’m sure he worked through the possibility of playing right tackle in the NFL. I’m sure he prepared for that while working out for his Pro Day. He went down to the Senior Bowl as well. I’m sure he’s done some work at both left and right tackle in recent months.

JM: That’s a terrific point. The Titans run an outside zone scheme on offense. There are a lot of similarities in your offense at North Dakota State. How do you think that familiarity will aid him in his transition to the next level?

CME: There’s always going to be a slight change in the language and terminology when he gets to Tennessee. That’s to be expected. He’ll pick things up once he starts working with the offensive staff and offensive line coach. I can almost guarantee you that they have some different line calls. It’s the little things. As far as his transition goes, the schemes are certainly simillar. I’m sure he’s going to hear certain blocking schemes and/or combinations that sound awfully familiar to him. He’s going to say to himself, “Hey, that’s exactly like what we ran at NDSU, the verbiage is just different.” It’s going to give him an advantage as he heads into OTA’s and the preseason.

JM: That’s going to be big for him as he acclimates to life in the NFL. Did the Titans ever reach out to you throughout the predraft discuss to discuss what type of person and player he was?

CME: I know that they reached out to our offensive line coach at the time. I believe I also had a conversation with somebody from the Titans during the intial Pro Day that we had here at NDSU. If my memory serves me correctly, that was the extent of it.

JM: What do you think it is about his mentality that will make him a successful player at the next level?

CME: He still has a chip on his shoulder. He still wants to prove to people that he can do it. That’s one of the things that lights his internal fire. It’s a motivator for him. He knows that he still has a lot of doubters out there. There are people that say a kid from Becker, Minnesota can’t do it. He wants to prove that he could go be successful in the NFL.

JM: We love hearing that. He has those 34-inch arms. What’s your philosophy on teaching hand technique to a player that’s been blessed with the ideal arm length for the position?

CME: It’s huge, especially in pass protection. You better utilize your length when you’re as long as he is. That’s what we always said to him. It was something that we became more aware of as a program as time went by. When we recruit offensive tackles, we’re looking for guys that have length. It’s the same thing in the NFL. Radunz has that ideal length as you said. It helps you keep a defender from reaching your body. You can avoid and stun that power pass rusher. That one-arm stab doesn’t work so well when an offensive tackle has the length to combat it. That’s critical for those long-armed offensive tackles. Radunz can keep his chest clean. You just have to remember to keep moving your feet.

JM: That’s a great answer. I’ve really appreciated your time today coach. In closing, from the moment you got your hands on him to the day that he left, which aspects of his game did you see develop the most?

CME: That’s a great question. Not to say that he wasn’t physical in high school, but I do think he took a step forward there. He was an exceptional football player in high school. He was a great athlete that was simply better than everybody else. When he got to college, he realized that he needed more than just the athleticism. He realized that he had to move people from Point A to Point B and displace the line of scrimmage. He knew he had to play with better pad level. He couldn’t cheat his fundamentals just because he was more athletic than the next guy. He knew that. It wasn’t high school anymore. The guy across from him was also highly recruited. He realized that pretty quickly. That’s when I started to see great focus on his fundamentals. It happened really quickly.

He’s a great kid. He’s going to represent NDSU at the next level. He’s the type of kid that we recruit here. He’s going to do so well in the NFL.

Author: Justin MeloSenior Writer, Interviewer and Podcaster for Broadway Sports covering the Tennessee Titans and NFL draft. For more than five years, Justin Melo has professionally covered all things NFL draft and Titans for The Draft Network, SB Nation and USA Today. Best known for his Interview Series with NFL draft prospects, Justin has interviewed more than 500 NFL players. Co-host of the Music City Audible podcast alongside Justin Graver (@titansfilmroom).

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