NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee rookie quarterback Will Levis already is familiar with new teammate Peter Skoronski, the Titans’ top NFL draft pick.
So are their families.
The ties stretch back to Levis’ grandfather Dave Kelley coaching Skoronski’s father on the defensive line at Yale, and staying with the Skoronskis when visiting Chicago on recruiting trips. Their families reconnected before the NFL draft, and both players even signing with the same agency.
Then the Titans made Skoronski the 11th pick overall in April.
“They won the draft when Peter went there, and … I was like, ‘How funny, how coincidental would it be if I end up on the same team?’ and here we are,” Levis said Saturday. “So it’s pretty funny how all those things come together. I truly feel like everything happens for a reason.”
Now they’re teammates wrapping up their rookie minicamp with the Titans.
Skoronski is being counted on to start immediately for Tennessee somewhere on a rebuilt offensive line. The 6-foot-4, 313-pound Skoronski worked at both left tackle and guard Saturday wearing the No. 77 of the three-time Pro Bowl left tackle Taylor Lewan, released in February as part of a salary cap move.
The rookie said he asked Lewan’s permission to wear the number Skoronski wore at Northwestern where he was a three-time All-Big Ten left tackle and got an easy yes.
The Titans brought 27 rookies along with 21 tryout players in Thursday night for a minicamp that wraps up Sunday. Skoronski has focused on learning to work on an offensive line that will feature sixth-round pick Jaelyn Duncan and veteran free agent additions in Andre Dillard and Daniel Brunskill.
Skoronski has noticed Levis’ work ethic already.
“You can tell how he works really hard and really prepared, so really impressed with him,” Skoronski said.
Levis attracted much of the attention Saturday after the Titans traded up, making the Kentucky quarterback the 33rd player overall drafted. That’s the highest this franchise has selected a quarterback since making Marcus Mariota the No. 2 selection overall in 2015.
The Titans don’t need Levis to start as a rookie, not with Ryan Tannehill going into the final year of his contract. Levis’ competitive nature was obvious from his reaction to a botched snap to start a team offensive period to running downfield to celebrate with Colton Dowell after a nice catch-and-run.
Coach Mike Vrabel made clear at the end of the NFL draft that Tannehill begins this offseason as the Titans’ starting quarterback with Levis third behind Malik Willis, their third-round pick out of Liberty a year ago.
Tannehill has been around all offseason recovering from surgery to repair the injured right ankle that ended his season during Tennessee’s seven-game skid to finish 7-10, just missing a third straight AFC South title.
Levis is very familiar with the offense being installed by new coordinator Tim Kelly, promoted in January to replace Todd Downing. So much so that Levis has to keep reminding himself to forget what plays were called at Kentucky. Levis also is getting used to having plays called into his headset for the first time.
The rookie quarterback finished Saturday’s session with a contested completion to 6-7 tight end Josh Whyle.
“We’ll just tell Will that we’ve got to be careful when we throw it into a team meeting,” Vrabel said.
NOTES: RB Tyjae Spears refused to discuss draft night reports he has no ACL in one knee. The third-round pick out of Tulane said he was on the field and did everything. Pressed twice on the topic, Spears repeated, “I am healthy.” … Dowell, their seventh-round pick out of UT Martin, was the only wide receiver the Titans drafted. They now have added undrafted rookies Jacob Copeland of Maryland and Tre’Shaun Harrison of Oregon State and had two more receivers among the tryout players.
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