Heading into the draft, the Tennessee Titans had a massive need along their offensive line. This was even after first-year Ran Carthon added three offensive linemen in free agency, the unit really needed that much help. This makes the selection of our OT1 and prospect #10, Peter Skoronski out of Northwestern, at Pick 11 a strong start to their 2023 NFL Draft campaign. Skoronski should slide in cleanly at one of Tennessee’s guard spots, alongside free agent additions Andre Dillard and Daniel Brunskill, plus tenured Titans Aaron Brewer and Nicholas Petit-Frere. There were questions along his draft process on whether his lack of arm length would keep him from playing tackle, although we viewed him as a guy who could translate to the league at his collegiate position. The Titans added Skoronski and later on added their largest surplus value pick in Maryland’s Jaelyn Duncan, selected 56 spots later than we had him ranked pre-draft. This is a massive step in the San Francisco direction of team-building that Carthon is bringing, by prioritizing the trenches as we here at the Slate and most successful teams do.
While there were murmurs of Tennessee possibly targeting the third overall pick from Arizona to trade up for a QB, presumably CJ Stroud, a fellow Ohio State alumnus alongside head coach Mike Vrabel, they were ultimately beat to the punch by divisional opponent Houston. Without one of the Top 3 QB’s available for their choosing, patience was a virtue for Tennessee as widely regarded first-round selection QB Will Levis out of Kentucky slid to them at pick 33 in Round 2. Say what you will about the draft community’s seemingly least favorite QB, Levis was our 20th-ranked prospect, meaning the Titans scored another steal in Levis, and a great gamble at a low cost. This is the second straight year they have selected a quarterback, selecting Malik Willis out of Liberty last year in round three (pick 86), another steal by our rankings then. It is worthy of mention that this year’s new regime beneath Ran Carthon made this selection and not the Willis one. In any case, this creates quite the stall of young signal-callers behind veteran quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
With pick 81 in Round 3, the Titans attempted at giving their backfield a wrinkle behind bruiser superstar Derrick Henry with the selection of Tulane’s Tyjae Spears (5 spots below where we had him ranked). The only worry with Spears is a combine medical test that revealed a “full thickness cartilage loss and no ACL in his knee… Spears has arthritis in his knee from his two ACL surgeries.” Furthermore, they added more offensive weaponry in Cincinnati big man Josh Whyle, before the aforementioned Jaelyn Duncan pick in Round 5. Whyle should really complement second-year starting tight end Chig Okonkwo well. In the 7th round, Tennessee shopped local with WR Colton Dowell out of University of Tennessee at Martin whom we did not have any pre-draft analysis on.
It’s hard to dislike Ran Carthon’s first draft class with the apparent balance between value and needs, it was just all offense, Rounds 1-7. Although Carthon has done a decent job of signing defensive veteran free agents (CB Sean Murphy-Bunting, OLB Arden Key) and undrafted free agents (ED Caleb Murphy, DT Shakel Brown), they still need to financially figure out veteran safety Kevin Byard and could still use reinforcements. All in all, we loved this draft for its upside and what it seems to resolve in Tennessee short and long-term offensively. Making this happen with only six picks earns Carthon and Co. a B+.