We all play dynasty fantasy football because the season never ends. We turn the page each year, but the quest to gain advantages over our opponents never stops. Never limited to one tool during the offseason, the best managers will remain active in trades, continue mining the waiver wire, and internally evaluate players already rostered. However, a majority of time spent over the next several months will be spent evaluating the incoming rookie class. Most analyses will focus on fantasy-relevant positions, forgetting that there is a grander NFL picture. The DraftNerds series will aim to qualify the incoming rookie class in a fantasy and an NFL context. Reading each article will familiarize you with these prospects’ skill sets, draft ranges, and possible landing spots in the upcoming draft. Additionally, we will explore team need for each of the 32 franchises and the potential fantasy impact of incoming rookies.
We may also identify the potential for trades, but it’s important to note that trading picks will not be a part of this mock exercise. Compensatory picks have not been assigned and will not be included in this exercise either. Credit for the mock draft simulator is due to ProFootballFocus.
2022 Season Recap
The Titans tantalized fans early in 2022. They started the season 7-3, capped by a week 11 Thursday night victory over the Packers at Lambeau. The Titans’ defense was performing admirably, led by superstars Jeffery Simmons and Kevin Byard. Derrick Henry was once again running over defenses. Despite an offseason trade that sent AJ Brown to Philly and an early season ACL injury that cost Taylor Lewan the season, the Titans appeared to be headed to their fourth consecutive playoff appearance under Mike Vrabel.
Unfortunately, the Titans lost their remaining seven games and missed the playoffs. Injuries piled up throughout the season for Tennessee, undoubtedly contributing to the late-season downfall. Additionally, the Titans played a markedly different schedule during the two stretches. The Titans played three eventual playoff teams during the first ten games, losing all three but beating the rest. During their seven-game losing streak to close 2022, all opponents except for one eventually made the postseason. Winning games you are supposed to win is the mark of good coaching. However, the Titans lacked the offensive firepower and depth in 2022 to beat the top contenders.
2023 Free Agents
The list of potential free agents for the Titans is long but not distinguished. Nose Tackle Teair Tart, Linebacker David Long, and Tight End Austin Hooper headline the list. Courtesy of Spotrac, the Titans are projected to be $23 million over the cap for 2023. They will likely need to restructure some existing contracts but also may need to release a large contract to get under the cap.
Ryan Tannehill is entering the last year of his contract and represents the largest cap-saving potential for Tennessee. However, the Titans will not likely release Tannehill without a better option on the roster. Based on Joshua Dobbs starting in a pseudo-playoff game in week 18, no one should expect Malik Willis to be the 2023 week one starter. For better or worse, I anticipate Tannehill will again be the Titans’ signal-caller. Instead, Tennessee may look to move on from one of Bud Dupree, Taylor Lewan, or Robert Woods.
Draft Needs and Results
The Titans are a well-coached and talented roster that will not beat itself and can contend again in 2023. Changes have been made to offensive coordinator, as Tim Kelly was promoted to the position on Tuesday. The former passing game coordinator will look to invigorate an offense that didn’t score nearly enough points last season. Getting more out of the quarterbacks under contract will be critical for Kelly.
The bar for competent QB play is rising in the AFC South. Trevor Lawrence is in the process of claiming the division. Houston and Indy are likely to add rookie gunslingers in the upcoming draft. Getting everything out of Tannehill while continuing to develop Willis will require a stable infrastructure. Henry is the ultimate first step toward that. A disciplined and physical defense is a great compliment. 2022 Rookie additions of Treylon Burks and Chig Okonkwo have started restocking the shelves. However, more playmakers and offensive line versatility are top needs for this Titans’ offense and team.
1.11 Peter Skoronski, OL Northwestern
A best-case scenario for the team and potentially the player as well, Skoronski is an optimal fit for the Titans. Taylor Lewan is in the last year of his deal and is a potential cut candidate. Both guard spots are available, as Nate Davis is a free agent, and Dillon Radunz is still a work in progress. Skoronski is considered a tackle prospect but is capable of playing any position along the offensive line. Recruited to Northwestern as a Center, Skoronski has moved along the line as needed for the Wildcats.
Skoronski is an offensive line chess piece comparable to Packers lineman Elgton Jenkins. Not an incredibly explosive athlete, Skoronski compensates with leverage and violent hands. With a powerful lower half and nimble feet, he is a weapon for both zone and gap-running schemes. An AP First Team All-American in 2022, he is in the conversation for the best lineman in the class. With Paris Johnson and Broderick Jones also on the board when I made this selection, the tie-breaker went to the player with the most versatility.
2.41 Sean Tucker, RB Syracuse
The intention is to add playmakers, and for this Titans offense, I believe the best addition they could make is a dynamic running back. Henry is superhuman, and despite 382 touches in 2022, at 29 years old seemingly hasn’t slowed down. However, Tucker would be an excellent compliment to Henry’s latter seasons. The former Orangeman can be highly efficient and explosive on limited volume and has an Aaron Jones or Tony Pollard appeal in a run-based offense.
Undersized but sturdily built, Tucker is a track athlete who is a game-breaker in the open field. With this top-tier linear speed and quickness, he is a direct runner to and through the hole and a terror for linebackers on flat and rail routes from the backfield. Tucker is a competent tackle-breaker who runs well behind his pads and is closer to the next-gen RB prototype than people realize. For a team built on running the ball and controlling the tempo of games, the Titans get a versatile weapon that will only serve to maximize this philosophy.
3.72 Byron Young, EDGE Tennessee
From Rocky Top to Titan Up, Byron Young stays in Tennessee. A top junior college recruit in 2021, Young is an older prospect. However, with that age comes a player with a well-rounded strength profile and a pass-rush plan. Young is ready to contribute on a limited basis in year one and has starting upside in the future. The former Volunteer best utilizes a speed-to-power combination off the edge, registering 10.5 sacks and 21.5 tackles for loss in two years in Knoxville. Bud Dupree is a cut candidate, and following a season where he and Harold Landry hit injured reserve, adding edge depth will be vital.
5.149 Rakim Jarrett, WR Maryland
A former 5-star recruit, according to 247Sports, Jarrett had early-round aspirations coming off 62 catches for 829 yards in his 2021 sophomore season. However, he could not reproduce or expand on the numbers in 2022, falling short of 500 yards in 11 games. Maryland quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa spreads the ball around, but disappointing production for one of the more talented athletes at wide receiver in this class. With a combination of run-after-catch prowess and above-the-rim playmaking, Jarrett has a skillset that will transition well to the next level. The Titans added Burks and Kyle Phillips in last year’s class, but Jarrett adds speed and downfield playmaking to a developing WR core.
7.230 Lonnie Phelps, EDGE Kansas
A Senior Bowl standout, Phelps has a terrific strength profile and plays with tremendous effort. Already rising with the week in Mobile, he may elevate his stock beyond this point in the months leading toward the draft. Phelps is a lunch-pail player who fits a Mike Vrabel defense and doubles down on one of the few needs on that side of the ball. A player to watch as we approach the NFL combine, this Jayhawk should be moving up boards.
The Titans add five total players in this mock exercise, a light class by league-wide standards but one likely to have a high effect on fantasy football. Adding a talented offensive lineman will be a top priority for the Titans, and they accomplished that here. With Tannehill recovering from ankle surgery and Henry still the offense’s engine, the addition of Skoronski would profoundly affect the Titans’ overall offensive potential in 2023.
The common wisdom would be to downgrade Henry if the Titans were to add a running back on day two. I’m not sure that would be the case, depending on who the runner is. Tucker is no threat to what Henry does best. Tucker can be fantasy relevant on a limited touch volume early in his career and help bridge the gap when Henry’s skillset eventually deteriorates. Dontrell Hilliard is a free agent and has had modest production in consecutive seasons for Tennessee. Tucker can monopolize that production. Combined with even a tiny bite from Henry’s insane workload, Tucker is in starting territory in year one.
While I generally prefer to target wide-outs early in rookie drafts and pivot to targeting running backs in the second round, this may be a year to do the opposite. This year’s draft class is RB-centric, and while the WR class may lack the high-end alpha wide receivers of previous years, the overall depth is solid. Jarrett in the fifth round is representative of that and would be an appealing dynasty target in the late second or early third of dynasty rookie drafts.
Considering the lack of overall picks, the Titans address multiple offensive needs. Burks seems to be the only rookie wide receiver from 2022 that is losing dynasty value. Assuming health, I expect he will take a step forward in 2023. The other Titan that stands to benefit from an offseason of moves would be Okonkwo. A dynamic playmaker, Okonkwo performed well as a rookie, and Austin Hooper could be in a different city. Buy the talented sleeper before it’s too late.
Thanks for reading another installment in the DraftNerds series! Continue checking back to the site for more mock drafts. Next up, the New York Jets.
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