Our 2022 NFL Draft coverage continues. The Tennessee Titans own the 26th overall selection in Thursday’s first round. Many analysts are forecasting an offensive linemen or quarterback with that selection. The Titans could use upgrades at left guard and/or right tackle, and the long term future of the left tackle and center positions remains in question. Titans general manager Jon Robinson will likely have a high grade on Texas A&M’s Kenyon Green, Boston College’s Zion Johnson, and Northern Iowa’s Trevor Penning. Should one of those three players remain on the board whenever the Titans come on the clock, Robinson could realistically select one of them.
If Tennessee decides to go in that direction, their next selection should be spent on a wide receiver. A.J. Brown and Robert Woods deserve a more appropriate running mate in the slot. Tennessee lacked depth at the position a year ago, and they’d be wise to avoid repeating last year’s mistake. Robinson must find a pro-ready receiver in this draft, even if it means doing so in the second-or-third round (and yes, we’re aware the Titans currently lack a second-round selection, but draft-day trades are a thing).
We’ve identified three mid-round receivers (Rounds 2-5) the Titans could be targeting.
Jalen Tolbert, South Alabama
The 6-foot-1, 194 pound Tolbert experienced an excellent campaign for the Jaguars in 2021. Tolbert was essentially the offense, having accounted for an astounding 82 receptions, 1,474 receiving yards, and eight touchdowns. Tolbert enjoyed a successful NFL Scouting Combine by running a respectable 4.49 in the 40-yard dash. On tape, Tolbert routinely displays sticky hands and a large catch radius (10 inch hands). He’s a natural hands-catcher that high-points the football while making big, explosive plays downfield. Tolbert was a big-time contested catch winner at South Alabama as a receiver that looks comfortable attacking the football in traffic. Tolbert is expected to get drafted in the 60-90 range, so the Titans may have to slightly move up from their current third round positioning.
PFN rankings had Jahan Dotson, Alec Pierce, and then Jalen Tolbert in order as the WR at 34.— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) April 24, 2022
I'm not a fan of Dotson and I think Pierce is a bit too raw, needs a certain kind of QB to be successful, so I went with a favorite of mine in Tolbert. pic.twitter.com/ZaVHjvBMpr
Calvin Austin III, Memphis
The Titans reportedly hosted Memphis’ Calvin Austin III on a private Top 30 visit, so there’s legitimate interest here. A local product, Austin has aced the pre-draft process despite some less-than-ideal measurables (5-foot-8, 170 pounds). Austin routinely put opposing cornerbacks in a blender at this year’s Senior Bowl. They struggled to match his quick-twitch and explosive movements. Austin then traveled to Indianapolis for the Combine where he ran the 40-yard dash in an electric 4.32 seconds. Austin’s lower-body explosion was also on display when he leaped a 39 inch vertical and 135 inch broad jump. Austin was a big-play magician on tape at Memphis. A two-time 1,000-yard receiver, Austin could immediately take up a starting role in the slot for the Titans.
Calvin Austin III is a WR prospect in the 2022 draft class. He scored a 9.43 RAS out of a possible 10.00. This ranked 151 out of 2613 WR from 1987 to 2022. https://t.co/nsIcMSyh2Q #RAS pic.twitter.com/h0Zebth9fb— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) March 23, 2022
Khalil Shakir, Boise State
Another high-level slot receiver, Boise State’s Khalil Shakir did his draft stock a massive favor by agreeing to compete in this year’s Senior Bowl. Shakir was a regular standout at practice, as opposing cornerbacks often struggled to match his quick-twitch, explosive movements off the line of scrimmage. Shakir routinely created separation when faced with press-man coverage. Shakir’s initial quickness off the line helps make him a nuanced route runner. Shakir also does excellent work after the catch. Shakir should be available somewhere between Rounds 3 and 4.
Stay tuned to MCM.