Earlier this year, I wrote an article titled “Two tight ends the Tennessee Titans could target in free agency” and absolutely nailed the Austin Hooper addition. I’m hoping for similar results here.
The Titans should continue to revamp and retool the position as they swiftly head toward next weekend’s draft. Hooper is an extremely valuable addition, but is playing on a one-year deal. The aging Geoff Swaim returns on yet another short-term deal as well. Tennessee currently doesn’t have any tight ends under contract for the 2023 campaign. Anthony Firkser recently signed with the Atlanta Falcons. It places them in an ideal scenario to draft and develop a tight end in the upcoming draft.
I don’t believe the Titans will draft a tight end with the 26th overall selection. Colorado State’s Trey McBride is the only player that carries some borderline first-round value, but I ultimately think the Titans will wait until the third or fourth round to draft a tight end.
We’ve identified two tight ends that qualify as ideal fits for Tennessee’s offense.
Cade Otton, Washington
The 6-foot-5, 247 pound Otton is an excellent scheme fit for what the Titans set out to achieve offensively. Otton is an excellent in-line blocker that was often asked to handle run blocking and even some pass protection duties in Washington’s offense. Otton is one of the best blocking tight ends in the draft. As a pass catcher, Otton routinely showcased the downfield speed and separation quickness necessary to create mismatches against opposing linebackers and safeties. He would give the Titans the dual-threat ability they desperately lacked a year ago.
It wouldn’t totally shock me if Otton was available in the fourth round, where the Titans currently have two selections. Otton suffered a season-ending ankle injury after eight appearances in 2021 and just allegedly recently received full medical clearance from the doctor who performed his surgery in November. Otton’s injury unfortunately hampered him throughout the pre-draft process. He was unable to physically perform at the NFL Scouting Combine, or at Washington’s Pro Day. It’s a situation that likely hampered his draft stock. The Titans should be intrigued by what Otton has to offer.
Jeremy Ruckert, Ohio State
I promise I didn’t purposely single out two injured tight ends. There’s no “Jon Robinson loves drafting injured players” joke to be made here. Ohio State’s Jeremy Ruckert possesses some big-time untapped potential in the passing game. Ruckert’s production as a pass-catcher was held back by playing next to Chris Olave, Garrett Wilson, and Jaxon Smith-Njigba. Partially as a result, Ruckert was held to 26 receptions, 309 receiving yards and three touchdowns in 2021. There’s some underrated athletic ability to be sorted out going forward. Ruckert can outproduce his collegiate numbers from a pass-catching perspective. Ruckert caught 12 career touchdowns for the Buckeyes, the majority which occurred in the red zone.
Ruckert was in a walking boot at Ohio State’s Pro Day and was unable to physically perform. At the combine, he participated in the bench press, where he totaled 19 reps of 225 pounds. Ruckert possesses NFL size and has played in a pro-style offense next to several NFL-level playmakers, quarterbacks, and offensive linemen. Ruckert also happens to be an excellent blocker in his own right, which makes him a fit for Tennessee’s offense.
The Titans should target one of these tight ends in the third or fourth round. Stay tuned to MCM.