What the Titans Draft Says about the Future

What did the 2022 NFL Draft tell us about where the Titans think they are as a franchise heading into the season?

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The 2022 NFL Draft is in the books, and the Tennessee Titans came away from it with nine new draft picks. I thought it was a rather smart draft. There’s nothing about it that I take great issue with. I probably would’ve liked to have seen ’em go offensive line earlier, but I trust this regime in developing offensive lineman, so no major gripes from me. They filled a lot of holes and added depth where it was needed. It’s one of the rare times in which the franchise checks pretty much all of the boxes that I had listed for ’em (which of course makes me feel like a football genius). But, something about the weekend just felt a little different.

That’s bound to happen when you trade your stud wide receiver away to the Philadelphia Eagles while the first round of the NFL Draft is happening around you. And, I’ve seen all the takes out there. “The Super Bowl window is closed.” “The Titans are punting on 2022.” While, in a way, it does kind of feel like the end of an era is approaching at the very least, I just don’t think it’s fair to write off the 2022 season just yet. My take before the draft, maybe exaggerated by draft fatigue and a desire to just get the show on the road, was that the Titans could’ve drafted no one last weekend and still be a Super Bowl contender for 2022. Now, that was assuming they still had AJ Brown, of course. But, my larger point still stands – the sour taste in our mouths from that loss to the Cincinnati Bengals kept us from admitting that this is still a pretty damn good roster.

Why? I like the composition of this team…it’s DNA, if you will. It starts with the culture that Jon Robinson, Mike Vrabel, and the Titans staff have cultivated in Nashville. Their biggest strengths remain intact – Derrick Henry and a stout, fierce defensive front. And, two of their division rivals are in the middle of a rebuild, with a third facing quarterback questions yet again. Unless the wheels completely fall off, this should still be a playoff team. And, if you can just get into the tournament, who knows how far you can go?

But, I also understand why this draft may feel like the Titans are beginning to plan for the future for some. They drafted Treylon Burks, who figures to be their WR1 at one point in the future. They get Malik Willis, who is the most explosive quarterback in this class, and could give the Titans an option to get out from under the contract of Ryan Tannehill in 2023. It’s not fair to compare Hassan Haskins to Henry, but he’s a younger back that plays the game in similar fashion and should fill a similar role to Henry if need be. And, they get an offensive lineman that can play anywhere on the line, or for the purposes of this argument, could replace anyone on the line. The Titans got younger in a lot of spots that are important to the success of their offense – naturally, folks are going to start asking questions.

So, what does this draft tell us about the Titans? Well, for one, they certainly have a philosophy, and they have their type to fit into it. Scheme versatility, team-first guys, experience – these are all surefire traits of a Robinson-Vrabel Titan. It doesn’t matter how many ass hats like me keep writing on the internet about the things this Titans team doesn’t have (Calvin Austin III, for example). They have their guys, and they’re not going to deviate from that style too much. You can’t argue with it – for the most part, it’s been successful so far. Maybe we just need to realize this and stop writing our think pieces about how if the Titans could just add a shifty, speedy receiver in the slot, they’d have a more well-rounded passing game. But, I think the more they do stick to this type, the easier it will be to identify future prospects and free agents.

Two, I think it does show that they’re starting to at least think about 2023 and beyond. They have time to develop Willis, and he could use it for sure, but the hourglass is running out on Tannehill and his contract. If there wasn’t a plan for the future, and this offseason was all about making the run in 2022, I think we would’ve seen the team stockpile more weapons around Tannehill, and maybe they would’ve promised Brown the moon and gotten some form of deal done to keep him in Nashville. That’s just reckless speculation, but I remember this team talking about the Super Bowl a year ago. Now, it seems like there’s been a bit of a quiet re-shift in focus. They’re a little more reserved this year. So, I could see this being an offseason in which we look at this team and say “it ain’t gonna last forever.

But, that doesn’t mean that they’ve just tossed 2022 aside. This is still a talented and deep team with a realistic chance to push for a Super Bowl. The last two playoff exits have been rather unceremonious, but it doesn’t mean this iteration of the Titans is hopeless. This team earned the #1 seed in the AFC with nearly a hundred different players having to play because of injury. They got it right then. They can get it right again…but if they don’t…well…that’s when we just might see the next era of Titans football begin.

“Whenever one door closes, I hope one more opens.” -Lee Ann Womack

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Stoney Keeley is the Editor in Chief of The SoBros Network, and a Dogs Playing Poker on velvet connoisseur. He is a strong supporter of Team GSD, #BeBetter, and ‘Minds right, asses tight.’ “Big Natural” covers the Tennessee Titans, Nashville, Yankee Candle, and a whole wealth of nonsense. Follow on Twitter @StoneyKeeley

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