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2020 NFL Draft: Interview with Titans UDFA OT Anthony McKinney

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NCAA Football: Texas Christian at Oklahoma State Brett Rojo-USA TODAY Sports

The Titans recently confirmed the signing of 14 un-drafted free agents, and former TCU offensive tackle Anthony McKinney is among them. McKinney started the final 11 games at left tackle for the Horned Frogs in 2019.

McKinney recently spoke with MCM about how he formed a relationship with the Titans throughout the pre-draft process, what he brings to the table, and which of his teammates he can’t wait to meet in person.

JM: You didn’t start playing football until your junior year of high school. You eventually made your way to TCU by way of JUCO. What was your learning curve like when you first arrived at a big program such as TCU?

AM: I would say that the biggest learning curve was adjusting to the speed of the game. The speed of the game doesn’t slow down for anybody. That’s the truth. Coming from high school and a northern football system, going to Texas and playing football down here is a different animal. Texas became my home. They’re crazy about football down here. It’s been one heck of a ride so far.

JM: Do you remember that first “welcome to TCU moment?”

AM: Yeah, I definitely do (laughs). I remember coming out of the tunnel pre-game getting ready to play against Ohio State. We played that game at AT&T Stadium. I remember walking out of the tunnel and seeing 110,000 screaming fans. That was definitely a welcome to college football moment for me.

JM: I don’t know what year that was, but I’m going to assume you had to block a pretty good pass rusher as well. They surely had a Chase Young or Bosa brother.

AM: I can do one you better. How about a Bosa brother AND a Chase Young? (laughs). They had both.

JM: That’s scary (laughs). You recently signed with the Titans as an un-drafted free agent. Congratulations on that. What was draft weekend like for you?

AM: To get as specific with you as I can, my phone never stopped ringing. Teams kept calling to check up on me. They wanted to let me know where I stood in their eyes. There was a lot of uncertainty due to COVID-19 but they were interested in me. I was basically on stand-by most of the weekend. I knew that there was some interest in me. It didn’t really matter where I went to be honest with you. At the end of the day, you’re here for one reason, and that’s to make the most of any opportunity that comes your way. You’re always going to be fighting for your job. You’re trying to learn more and more every day. I’m just blessed to have this opportunity.

JM: How did the opportunity with the Titans come about?

AM: My agent was basically negotiating numbers back and forth with a couple of teams. He eventually called me and broke down which deals I had available to me on the table. Knowing what I did about the Tennessee Titans organization, I choose them. I had done my research and I had a pretty good idea that it would be the Titans the entire time. I made the best decision for myself.

JM: Did you have a lot of discussion with them pre-draft?

AM: I had a few phone calls and Zoom conference meetings with pretty much most of their staff on offense. I had Zoom meetings with two of three offensive line coaches. I thought the meetings went well. I had a good feel for the types of coaches I was dealing with. I was thankful to have so many discussions with them, because I was a little late to the game. I hired my agent later than most prospects and I didn’t really start getting into the pre-draft process until about five or six weeks later than most prospects.

JM: It sounds like you had some other offers on the table. Why did you choose Tennessee?

AM: I just really enjoyed my conversations with the coaching staff. I felt that their style of teaching really fit me. I was very impressed by the staff. We understand each other. They’re the type of coaching staff that I need to help me take the next step. The players are very good people, they all care about their teammates. They’re all going to carry you under their wing as long as you show that you’re willing to put in the work. I knew I was going to have a decision to make and I had been thinking about it all week. When the time came, I went with my gut.

JM: I love that. What’s your favorite part about playing the offensive tackle position?

AM: We have a little more freedom at the tackle position. The interior linemen don’t have as much freedom. We’re on a bit of an island, we’re alone out there on the edges. There’s a little more wiggle room that comes with that. We have to go up against elite pass rushers on a weekly basis. Every single team has it’s own Von Miller or Khalil Mack. Defensive ends are the most elite position in my opinion. That gives us tackles plenty of opportunities to showcase our abilities.

JM: Who are some of the best pass rushers that you’ve gone up against?

AM: The Bosa brothers definitely come to mind. I’ve played against both of them. Wyatt Hubert from Kansas State is a good one. I played against James Lynch from Baylor. He got drafted this year. Those are some of the guys that immediately come to mind.

JM: That’s a solid list right there. Is there one Titan that you can’t wait to meet? Maybe somebody you’re excited to practice against, or even learn from?

AM: I don’t think that I can single anybody out. Looking at the success the organization has had as of late, how can you single one person out? They were one win away from the big one last season. I’ve been watching film on all five of their O-line starters. Every single one of those guys are elite. As far as I’m concerned, I can learn something from every single one of them. They all have different perspectives.

JM: That’s a good point. I’ve appreciated your time today, Anthony. In closing, what are you hoping to achieve over these next few months?

AM: I’m going to be a learner. I’m going to learn everything as quickly as I can. The quicker I can absorb and process information, the more comfortable and confident I’ll become. It starts with knowing what to do.