Tennessee Titans Rookies Forecast

By Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell

Solid Starter

Tyjae Spears, RB, Tulane – Round 3
It might take three or four seasons, but I could see the possibility that Spears emerges as a starting running back for Tennessee. The Titans let teams know that Derrick Henry was available this offseason, and in three years time, Henry could be declining from wear-and-tear or on another roster. Thus, I think Spears has the potential to become a starter in Tennessee.

The 5-foot-10, 201-pound Spears is a natural runner with advanced instincts, feel, vision, and cutting ability. He was a beast for the Green Wave in 2022, racking up huge production of 1,581 yards and 19 touchdowns. To put a cap on his college career, Spears helped lead Tulane to its win over USC, collecting over 200 yards. Gaining a little weight could help Spears at the next level, he should be able to do that in Tennessee’s strength program.

Derrick Henry turned 29 just after last season and is nearing the late stages of his career. Spears can initially back up Henry, but over the next few years, Spears could take over as the starter. With his natural running ability, Spears could be a solid starter for Tennessee.

2021: Roger McCreary, CB
2021: Monty Rice, LB
2020: Kristian Fulton, CB
2019: A.J. Brown, WR
2018: Dane Cruikshank, S
2017: Corey Davis, WR
2016: Jack Conklin, OT
2015: Jalston Fowler, FB
2014: Bishop Sankey, RB
2013: Blidi Wreh-Wilson, CB

Most Likely To Bust

Will Levis, QB, Kentucky – Round 2
Levis was expected to be a first-round pick, with some at ESPN saying the Colts would take him at No. 4 and he was the preferred quarterback of a few teams in the top five. That reporting proved to be inaccurate, and Levis slid out of the first round completely. Early in Round 2, the Titans snatched up Levis, and sitting behind Ryan Tannehill could benefit Levis as he learns the pro game.

Multiple team sources from quarterback-needy franchises told WalterFootball.com that they felt Levis lacks feel and instincts as a passer. There are definitely lots of points of improvement for Levis entering the NFL. He has to improve his feel, because right now, it leads to him holding the ball way too long, throwing some terrible interceptions, and taking way too many sacks. Levis must cut down on the pick, in particular. He is a gunslinger who competes, but he has to do a better job of protecting the ball. He must to get the ball out faster and not hold onto it so long in the pocket. Levis puts a lot of pressure on his offensive line, and NFL defenses will not allow him the time that he wants in the pocket. One way Levis could help himself is to to throw with more anticipation and not wait to see the receiver break open before pulling the trigger. Levis currently can throw passes a little late, which forces receivers to hold up to wait on some passes. Here was a concerning quote that was in our Will Levis Scouting Report:

“He has no feel,” said an AFC director of player personnel. “He doesn’t feel the rush, holds onto the ball too long, gets his a** knocked off, and takes some bad sacks. He has poor decision-making and tries to strong arm the ball into traffic. I hate to say it, but he reminded me of Jeff Driskel.”

In the second round, Levis was not a bad gamble for Tennessee because he has the physical talent to start in the NFL. However, Levis has some serious flaws, and I think his lack of instincts and feel lead to him having dangerous bust potential.

2022: Malik Willis, QB
2021: Elijah Molden, CB
2020: Darrynton Evans, RB
2019: Nate Davis, G
2018: Harold Landry, DE
2017: Taywan Taylor, WR
2016: Kevin Dodd, DE
2015: Dorial Green-Beckham, WR
2014: Marqueston Huff, S
2013: Zavier Gooden, LB

Potential Boom Pick

Peter Skoronski, OT, Northwestern – Round 1
The 2023 NFL Draft was the first one for Tennessee general manager Ran Carthon, and with his first selection, he made a very safe selection in Skoronski. It would be a huge shock if the Northwestern offensive lineman did not turn into a good pro starter, because he is a rock-solid football player. Skoronski may not have a perfect skill set, but he is just good at playing the sport and is the kind of player who will be a valuable starter for a long time.

As a pass blocker, Skoronski can bend and is a smooth mover. He displays quick feet and can play the typewriter to glide with pass rushers to keep them from running the arc around him. Skoronski does not have good length, but he uses what he has well and is a smart tactician with how he engages defenders. Skoronski places his hands well and shows good technique with negating speed or power rushes.

In the ground game, Skoronski is effective and contributes well. He generates movement on defenders with the ability to push them or manipulate them through some advanced power. As a junior, Skoronski showed more strength and power to knock defenders off the ball and drive them back. He was a tough blocker in short-yardage situations, and he displayed the necessary strength to be a starting right tackle in the NFL. With his quickness and smooth moving ability, Skoronski is very good at firing to the second level to get to blocks on linebackers or move in space while pulling around the line.

Skoronski could be a starter at left tackle or left guard as a rookie for the Titans. Andre Dillard was signed in free agency, so the veteran could start out on the edge. In time, Skoronski could move to left tackle, right tackle, stay at guard, or even move to center. It would not surprise me if Skoronski turns into a perennial Pro Bowler and is the first of many wise draft choices by Carthon.

2022: Treylon Burks, WR
2021: Caleb Farley, CB
2020: Isaiah Wilson, OT
2019: Jeff Simmons, DT
2018: Rashaan Evans, LB
2017: Adoree’ Jackson, CB
2016: Derrick Henry, RB
2015: Marcus Mariota, QB
2014: Taylor Lewan, OT
2013: Chance Warmack, G

Future Depth Player

Josh Whyle, TE, Cincinnati – Round 5
The Titans had a talented young tight end emerge during the 2022 season in Chigoziem Okonkwo, but they were facing a real lack of depth at the position behind Okonkwo. Whyle was a nice value pick in the fifth round of the 2023 NBA Draft, and in a typical year, he would have gone a round or two higher. The recent draft, however, was loaded with good tight end talent, so Whyle slipped into the fifth frame. While he might not ever become a starter for Tennessee, I think Whyle could be a solid No. 2 tight end who contributes well in double-tight end sets. Whyle definitely has the ability to be a solid backup and depth player for the Titans.

2022: Hassan Haskins, RB
2021: Rashad Weaver, DE
2020: Larrell Murchison, DT
2019: D’Andre Walker, LB
2018: Luke Falk, QB
2017: Jonnu Smith, TE
2016: Tajae Sharpe, WR
2015: David Cobb, RB
2014: Zach Mettenberger, QB
2013: Justin Hunter, WR

Walt’s 2023 NFL Draft Grades:

11. Peter Skoronski, G/OT, Northwestern – A+ Grade
Paris Johnson is the best tackle in this class, but it could be argued that Peter Skoronski is the No. 1 offensive lineman. He was docked for his short arms, but he’s going to be an elite guard for Tennessee over the next decade. The Titans desperately needed blocking help after losing three offensive linemen this offseason, and Skoronski will provide a huge boost.

33. Will Levis, QB, Kentucky – B Grade
The Titans caught a falling quarterback last year in Malik Willis, so they’ll be hoping that this signal-caller pick is more successful. It’ll be difficult for Levis to be worse than Willis, but he has an extremely low floor. Levis has major flaws in his game and couldn’t beat out Sean Clifford at Penn State. Some believe Levis fell, but I had him at this very pick in my mock draft, so I don’t think this is a value selection. It’s fine though.

81. Tyjae Spears, RB, Tulane – C- Grade
The rebuilding process is about to begin for the Titans, who could be trading Derrick Henry in the near future. Tyjae Spears is a complete back who could take over as the starter in the near future. He makes sense in this range, except for his horrible knee history. He has no ACL, which is a big problem.

147. Josh Whyle, TE, Cincinnati – B Grade
Josh Whyle played well last year despite inconsistent quarterback play at Cincinnati in the wake of Desmond Ridder’s departure. Whyle makes sense at this selection, though this doesn’t exactly fill a big need.

186. Jaelyn Duncan, OT, Maryland – A+ Grade
I had Jaelyn Duncan in the first round of my mock draft not too long ago! Duncan isn’t a finished product, but he’s super athletic and possesses a ton of upside. It seems as though he slipped because of character and work ethic concerns, but he’s worth the gamble here.

228. Colton Dowell, WR, UT-Martin – B- Grade
Colton Dowell has plus size and hands, but doesn’t have much speed or run-after-the-catch skills. Still, given the Titans’ poor receiving corps, he might be able to make the final roster.

2023 NFL Draft Team Grade: A-. Follow Walter @walterfootball for updates.

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