The top of the 2022 NFL Draft could go a number of ways for the Tennessee Titans.
Maybe they’ll lock in on a quarterback of the future. Or get their current one, Ryan Tannehill, more pass protection. Maybe receiver will be the choice, adding much-needed depth behind star A.J. Brown. It’s darn-near impossible to predict, with certainty at least, who will be available to the Titans at the back of the first round.
So who are the names to watch for the Titans at No. 26?
Here are nine must-have prospects for Tennessee on Day 1 of the draft, which begins Thursday (7 p.m. CT, ESPN) from Las Vegas:
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Kenyon Green, guard, Texas A&M
MEASURABLES: 6-foot-4, 323 pounds.
2021 STATS (12 games): Starts at left guard (7), right guard (2), right tackle (2), left tackle (1).
There may not be a prospect with as much value and fit at the back of the first round than Green. The three-year Texas A&M starter has the tools to be a Day 1 starter at left guard, where the Titans must replace Rodger Saffold. Green would give Tennessee a dominant run blocker who has the versatility to play four spots on the offensive line (both guard and tackle spots).
In addition to being a starting guard, Green would give the Titans depth at right tackle, the other hole on their offensive line.
Zion Johnson, guard, Boston College
MEASURABLES: 6-3, 312 pounds.
2021 STATS (12 games): Starts at left guard (11) and left tackle (1).
Like Green, Johnson would be a plug-and-play starter at left guard. The former Boston College star also started 13 games at left tackle the last two seasons and took snaps at center during the Senior Bowl, showing his versatility. He’s been described as one of the most impressive prospects in the pre-draft process.
Titans coach Mike Vrabel should already have unique intel on Johnson, as he was college roommates with his son, Tyler, another 2022 draft prospect.
Treylon Burks, wide receiver, Arkansas
MEASURABLES: 6-2, 225 pounds.
2021 STATS (12 games): 66 receptions, 1,104 yards, 11 TDs.
A poor performance at the NFL Scouting Combine may be just enough for Burks to slide into the Titans’ range. A physical receiver, he’s a yards-after-the catch threat who has drawn similarities to A.J. Brown.
Arkansas deployed Burks all across the formation – primarily the slot, inline and backfield – and the Titans could use him similarly to create mismatches.
Desmond Ridder, quarterback, Cincinnati
MEASURABLES: 6-3, 211 pounds.
2021 STATS (14 games): 64.9% completion rate, 3,334 yards, 30 TDs, 8 INTs.
Ridder is the quarterback who makes the most sense in the Titans’ range. He has ideal size for the position, coupled with great athleticism for a pocket passer. Draft evaluators praise his ability to make reads across the entire field.
Accuracy was an issue at times at Cincinnati, however, but Ridder won’t be thrown into the fire in Tennessee. He’d sit and learn behind Ryan Tannehill, whom he models his game after, for at least one season.
Sam Howell, quarterback, North Carolina
MEASURABLES: 6-1, 218 pounds.
2021 STATS (12 games): 62.5% completion rate, 3,056 yards, 24 TDs, 9 INTs.
Howell makes sense if the Titans trade back from No. 26. He lacks ideal size for a quarterback, but he’s a good runner – more than 800 rushing yards last season – and has arguably the best deep ball in the class.
The three-year North Carolina starter could become a strong down-the-road starter for Tennessee with the right supporting cast. His numbers took a dip last season with many of his top weapons from 2020 departed to the NFL.
Jahan Dotson, wide receiver, Penn State
MEASURABLES: 5-11, 178 pounds.
2021 STATS (12 games): 91 receptions, 1,182 yards, 12 TDs.
Dotson doesn’t have the ideal frame for the run-blocking responsibilities of receivers in the Titans’ scheme, but he’s a polished route runner with the speed to take the top off of a defense. General manager Jon Robinson told The Tennessean at the Senior Bowl that Tennessee needs more receivers who can win against man coverage.
Trey McBride, tight end, Colorado State
MEASURABLES: 6-4, 246 pounds.
2021 STATS (12 games): 90 receptions, 1,121 yards, 1 TD.
The first round may be too high to take a tight end, but McBride could give the Titans the versatility they lost at the position when Jonnu Smith left in free agency after the 2020 season. McBride is a pass-catching force and a willing blocker. He’d give Tennessee a deep tight end room, joining forces with Austin Hooper and Geoff Swaim.
Bernhard Raimann, offensive tackle/guard, Central Michigan
MEASURABLES: 6-6, 303 pounds.
2021 STATS (12 games): 12 starts at left tackle
Coming from a Group of Five league, the Mid-American Conference, there could be a learning curve for Raimann in the NFL. But he’s already conquered big learning curves. Raimann transitioned from tight end to offensive tackle after two college seasons, then allowed just one sack in 18 starts at left tackle, according to The Athletic.
With proper development, he could be in the mix to start at right tackle as a rookie. Robinson hasn’t flinched at drafting a college left tackle to play right tackle (i.e. Jack Conklin, Dillon Radunz).
Nakobe Dean, inside linebacker, Georgia
MEASURABLES: 5-11, 229 pounds.
2021 STATS (15 games): 72 tackles (10.5 for loss), 6 sacks, 2 FF, 8 PBUs, 2 INTs
Taking an inside linebacker with the top pick may elicit eye rolls from Titans fans – Tennessee appears set at the spot between Zach Cunningham, David Long Jr. and Monty Rice – but general manager Jon Robinson has indicated best available, regardless of position, is high on the priority list.
“You never know when you’re going to need that player,” Robinson said at the NFL owners’ meetings last month.
Dean is one of the top two inside linebackers in this class, with three-down value and sound open-field tackling. A bit undersized for his position, he showed great instincts against the run and pass at Georgia.
Ben Arthur covers the Tennessee Titans for The USA TODAY Network. Contact him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @benyarthur.
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