Titans, new GM need O-linemen, pass catchers in NFL draft

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Everyone trying to figure out what the Tennessee Titans will do with the 11th overall pick in the draft points to one position: quarterback.

Ryan Tannehill turns 35 in July after ending last season on injured reserve with an ankle problem that cost him five games, including the last three, while the Titans endured a brutal close to the season and fell short of a third straight AFC South title. He also is in the final year of a contract that’s set to pay him $27 million and cost $36.6 million against the salary cap.

New general manager Ran Carthon was hired in January after Jon Robinson was fired with the Titans leading the NFL in consecutive seasons using the most players because of injuries. Carthon and the Titans have looked at all the top quarterbacks available in the draft starting April 27.

Carthon insists it’s due diligence.

“You guys just have to accept the fact that Ryan is under contract for us, and right now he’s a Titan and he will be a Titan,” Carthon said.

Trading back if possible would be best. Tennessee has only six picks in this draft with three in the first 72 slots and none in the fourth round because of its 2021 trade for Julio Jones.

Coach Mike Vrabel, whose team started 7-3 but closed with seven straight losses, said Tannehill has been working at the team headquarters to recover.

He also remembers last year’s draft when A.J. Brown, the Pro Bowl receiver he insisted would stick around as long as he was coach, was traded to Philadelphia.

So no commitments from Vrabel on who starts at quarterback for Tennessee in September.

“I’ve seen it change too quickly,” Vrabel said.


The Titans’ season-ending skid is why they have their highest pick since selecting wide receiver Corey Davis at No. 5 overall in 2017.

They took left tackle Taylor Lewan in 2014 the last time they had the 11th overall pick, and he was a three-time Pro Bowler before being cut in February as the Titans started clearing space after being about $17 million over the salary cap.


Offensive linemen and pass catchers.

Not only did the Titans cut Lewan, they also released veteran center Ben Jones in March and let right guard Nate Davis leave for a new deal with Chicago. That leaves Tennessee needing a minimum of three new starters on the offensive line.

The Titans signed Andre Dillard as a free agent after the first-round pick by Philadelphia in 2019 started only nine games in four seasons. Carthon also brought versatile lineman Daniel Brunskill with him from San Francisco.

Vrabel fired offensive line assistant Keith Carter and promoted Jason Houghtaling. Vrabel made clear at the NFL owners’ meetings in late March that the Titans have to protect their quarterback better because they’ve seen the “bad things happen” when they don’t.

Veteran wide receiver Robert Woods also is gone in a salary-cap move after leading Tennessee in receptions and yards. Treylon Burks, taken at No. 18 overall with the pick acquired for Brown, showed promise despite being limited to 11 games because of injury. So did rookie tight end Chig Okonkwo.

New offensive coordinator Tim Kelly needs speedy skill position players to fix an offense that averaged 17.5 points a game. Only four NFL teams scored fewer points.


Pass rushers and running backs. Outside linebacker Harold Landry III should be back from the torn ACL that ended his 2022 season before it started. He set a career high with 12 1/2 sacks in 2021. Tennessee extended two-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons earlier this month.

The Titans signed defensive end Arden Key to replace DeMarcus Walker, who left for Chicago, and linebacker Bud Dupree, another high-priced and oft-injured player signed by the former general manager.

Derrick Henry also is in the final year of his contract. He also will turn 30 in January. But he finished second in the NFL with 1,538 yards rushing and had a career year as a receiver behind a patchwork offensive line.


Follow Teresa M. Walker at https://twitter.com/TeresaMWalker


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