The Titans enter the 2019 NFL draft with a hole on the interior of their offensive line. They decided to move on from both of their starting guards this off season by allowing Quinton Spain to sign with Buffalo and releasing Josh Kline. Both players struggled in 2018 as the interior of the offensive line took a lot of the blame for an underperforming offense. There were others factors that played a role in the offense’s struggles, but we can all agree that they need to do better next season. Signing Rodger Saffold in free agency is a big step towards improving, but they still need at least one more piece on the interior.
If the 2019 season started today, either Kevin Pamphile or Corey Levin would be starting at RG. I’m not sure that’s ideal. Enter the purpose of this piece. Tennessee will likely add at least one IOL by the end of Day 2, and it wouldn’t surprise me if they decide to double down at the position at some point. Let’s take a look at prospects that could fit in every round.
Round 1: Garrett Bradbury, C, NC State
Let’s be honest, Titans twitter would DRAG me if I put anyone else in this position. At least half of this fan base seems to be infatuated with Bradbury, and it’s easy to see why on tape. He’s a true technician and people mover in the run game. His hand placement and technique are incredibly advanced at this point. He also appears to be an excellent fit for the scheme the Titans want to continue to run in 2019. The center is such an important position, and Bradbury is very alert and attentive when playing it. He understands what’s going on around him. If there’s one knock on Bradbury, it’s that he isn’t overly powerful in pass protection. He can occasionally be found getting pushed back into the pocket. He has to get stronger in pass protection at the next level, but Bradbury would make a ton of sense at 19th overall.
Round 2: Michael Deiter, OG, Wisconsin
Should the Titans decide to pass on offensive line at 19, Deiter would be a heck of a consolation prize at 51. Don’t let his 6-foot-6, 320 pound frame fool you — Deiter is incredibly mobile for his size and does his best work when pulling. NFL teams love position versatility, especially on the offensive line, and Deiter has played tackle, center and guard throughout his career at Wisconsin. I personally thought he was much more comfortable at guard in 2018 than he was at tackle in 2017, and he should definitely make a living on the interior at the next level. Deiter is simply put a bully. He does a great job of latching his hands onto the chest plate of his opponents. If he’s successful in doing that, the rep is over and he’s already won. If there’s one knock on him, it’s a lack of length, but Deiter looks like a 10 year quality starter to me.
Round 3: Dru Samia, OG, Oklahoma
Samia has a strong base. When he anchors, he doesn’t get beat by power. It’s that simple. He has a tremendous amount of strength in his core. Although I wouldn’t define him as a mauler, he does a good job generating movement in the run game. He moves his man from point A to point B and that’s good enough for me. Oklahoma ran some zone in 2018, so he’d be a decent fit for the Titans scheme. He’s also used to blocking for a mobile quarterback. Samia is certainly at his best when he’s asked to operate in space and use his athletic ability. He has starting potential on day one.
Round 4: Nate Davis, OG, Charlotte
Davis is one of my favorite small school players in this entire draft class, regardless of position. Despite playing right tackle throughout his collegiate career, Davis told me that the plan is for him play guard at the next level, and it’s easy to see why. He generates a ton of movement in the run game thanks to a powerful leg drive. He’s also a very good athlete for his size and does his best work when he’s allowed to operate in space. He’s an incredibly powerful prospect and consistently plays forward. I think he’s better fit in a gap/power scheme, but he was quite decent when Charlotte ran zone as well. He’s going to get drafted earlier than some people think.
Round 5: Ross Pierschbacher, C, Alabama
If Tennessee is looking for a Day 3 guy that could potentially push Ben Jones in training camp, Pierschbacher makes a lot of sense. First and foremost, he has the ideal size and frame for the next level. Playing at Alabama means Pierschbacher is used to playing in big moments and against the best competition at his level. That will serve him well as he transitions to the pros. Pierschbacher’s biggest strength is his ability in the run game. His hand placement is incredibly effective in this area. He’s also a great fit in outside zone, where he consistently sealed up running lanes on tape. His transition to the Titans scheme would be seamless. His athletic ability leaves some to be desired, but Pierschbacher would make a lot of sense here.
Round 6: Beau Benzchawel, OG, Wisconsin
Another guard from Wisconsin? Their offensive line was that good in 2018. Benzchawel did his best work as a Badger when he was asked to get out on the boundary. He’s incredibly strong. Power is certainly his strongest asset. He’s a smart player who reacts well to what’s going on around him. He’s been battle tested. His understanding of angles and combo blocks is well advanced for a prospect. His tape is maddeningly inconsistent, and that’s why he’ll be available on Day 3. His hips are stiff and he allows his feet to betray him too often at this point, but Benzchawel has all the tools and work ethic to make an NFL roster.
Round 7: Lamont Gaillard, C, Georgia
A decent athlete who was the pivot for the Bulldogs offensive line in 2019, Gaillard represents a value selection on the backend of the 2019 NFL draft. He does his best work when asked to push defenders back in a phone booth. He’s a people mover in that sense. He’s incredibly powerful. He uses his hands well. The knock on Gaillard would be how badly he struggled when asked to get out in space. He was sort of awkward and clumsy when pushed out of his comfort zone. Still, with the right coaching and situation, I believe Gaillard has the potential to develop into a starting center at the next level.