Way back in the beginning of the pre-draft process at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama, Titans GM Jon Robinson told Jim Wyatt that he’s looking for “smart, fast, and nasty” players to add to the team during this year’s draft cycle and compared that profile to a wolf.
“We’ve certainly had our fair share of it. We have some tough, nasty guys on our football team. But it is like anything else – if you can have more tough, and nasty guys, the better. It is like a pack of wolves. I wouldn’t want to mess with a wolf, but if you have three or four wolves and you add another four or five wolves, I’d rather go into a fight with seven or eight wolves instead of three. You kind of like your chances a little bit more.”
That quote got me thinking about who I would consider a “wolf” on the Titans current roster. I think there are a few no-doubters — Taylor Lewan, Kenny Vaccaro, Delanie Walker, and Rashaan Evans jump to mind immediately for me — but it’s certainly a roster that could use an infusion of nastiness.
So who are some of the players in the draft that might fit that description?
Dalton Risner, OL, Kansas State
You can’t have a discussion about nasty players in the 2019 NFL Draft that doesn’t include Dalton Risner. During a Senior Bowl interview he told reporters that he hopes scouts watch his game and “wonder what was up Dalton Risner’s butt during that game, he must have been pissed off”.
That nastiness shows up big time on tape as well. Risner relishes in finishing with authority and physically dominating his opponents.
Risner is dirty and nasty and it’s awesome...— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) April 5, 2019
Yep, he’s a finisher... pic.twitter.com/6jfZrVyYCe
Risner’s nasty streak extends all the way back to his freshman season at Kansas State when he started at center.
And it continued all the way through the Senior Bowl itself.
The Titans are obviously on the market for an interior offensive lineman near the top of the draft so Risner could be an option for them either at 19 or 51. He would give the Titans a versatile option along the offensive line that could plug and play at right guard, but also could move to center or right tackle if called upon down the road. Risner would absolutely give Jon Robinson another wolf.
T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa
Hockenson is unlikely to be on the board at 19 at this point, but he’s one of the toughest, “nastiest” players in the draft and absolutely fits the description of what Jon Robinson says he’s looking for. There are plenty of good receiving tight ends in the draft — with Hockenson being quite possibly the best — but what makes him special as a prospect is the fact that he doesn’t just go through the motions as a blocker, he gets after it. That will allow him to not only stay on the field early, but be a plus matchup regardless of playcall for whichever offense he ends up with.
TJ Hockenson - “The Block”....my favorite highlight all season pic.twitter.com/ZxTQwTQXmY— Hawkeye Football Fan (@HawkeyeFanHQ) October 14, 2018
Hockenson isn’t just satisfied with effectively eliminating a defender, he wants to make a statement with each block and finishes through the whistle.
Watch the effort from these psychos... Fant and Hockenson in the 4thQ. Look at the effort and finish!!!— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) April 19, 2019
Might have to watch a few times pic.twitter.com/ip5tZmed3u
I know that the Titans have more glaring needs, but if Hockenson were to fall to 19 for some reason I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he was the pick.
Alex Barnes, RB, Kansas State
Barnes is flying pretty low under the radar as a running back prospect despite a productive college career and a freakishly explosive combine performance.
However, that’s not the reason that he’s one of my favorite running back prospects in this draft. I love Barnes’ physicality. Just watch him lower the boom on a would be tackler here.
That’s just not something you see very often in modern football anymore, but Barnes brings that kind of attacking mentality every game. At just over six feet tall and weighing 226 pounds, he’s a load to bring down and will fight for every inch available to him when he has the ball in his hands.
Alex Barnes (@Alex_Barnes34 ) making his presence KNOWN!— Cover 1 (@Cover_1_) March 11, 2019
Love the patience, two hands on the ball as he gets skinny through the hole and on contact.
But HOT DAMN that had to leave a mark.... pic.twitter.com/KAWp26jlDG
Barnes isn’t a homerun hitter as a back, but he’s a tough, durable, and extremely powerful runner who can also give you something in the passing game. I can’t help but see a little James Conner when I watch Barnes and I think he could be a real steal on day three of the draft.
Jonathan Abram, S, Mississippi State
Abram isn’t likely to be a Titan due to where he’s expected to go in the draft — currently expected to be in the late first round or early second round range — but you can’t talk about wolves without mentioning him. He’s a heat seeking missile at the safety position and one of the most aggressive defenders in the draft.
Abram really reminds me a little bit of the Titans own Kenny Vaccaro.
.@HailStateFB @JohnathanAbram1 joins us today on PTD on @nflnetwork and I can’t wait to meet my favorite player in the 2019 NFL draft. This is a contact sport and no one hits like Abram. #BaldysBreakdowns pic.twitter.com/WEIayGrDaJ— Brian Baldinger (@BaldyNFL) April 5, 2019
Again, he’s not likely to play in Tennessee, but he absolutely fits the profile that the Titans say they’re looking for.
Kelvin Harmon, WR, NC State
The Titans have been connected to a bunch of wide receivers throughout the draft process as they continue to try and provide Marcus Mariota with more weapons in the passing game, but Harmon hasn’t been one of them. That doesn’t necessarily mean anything though as we know that Jon Robinson likes to play games with the information that he puts out to the public prior to the draft.
Last year, Tennessee wasn’t connected to either Rashaan Evans or Harold Landry beyond a brief “hands on” moment between Vrabel and Evans at the Alabama pro day prior to the draft. Later we learned that the Titans had quietly had both guys in for a visit that didn’t end up getting reported.
So Harmon could still be on the Titans radar despite there being no reported interest at this time and I could certainly see why. He maybe the “nastiest” receiver in the draft. He won’t blow anyone away with athleticism, but he’s got plenty of swagger and an aggressive nature that shows up before, during, and after the catch.
Kelvin Harmon has that ‘my ball’ attitude and he’s going to get it!! pic.twitter.com/JQ4gii1Mqp— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) January 30, 2019
Kelvin Harmon is a beast, man. Bodies up the nickel defender and then truck sticks Lukas Denis. Super talented and super physical. pic.twitter.com/fLkZMc9RZ6— Jonah Tuls (@JonahTulsNFL) July 31, 2018
Harmon was largely viewed as a borderline first round pick prior to the combine, but below average measurables have caused his stock to drop in the eyes of the media. It will be interesting to see how the NFL views him, but I don’t think you’ll find a more competitive wide receiver in the draft.