The 2021 NFL Draft begins on April 29, which means that The Game Haus will be writing draft profiles for every team. Each NFL team will be evaluated heading into this year’s draft, as our staff recaps their last season, highlights their needs and pinpoints their potential 2021 NFL Draft targets.
The Tennessee Titans are the subject of today’s 2021 NFL Draft profile
After a heated battle with the Indianapolis Colts, all season the Tennessee Titans won the AFC South. The Titans followed up their late-season breakout that got them into the AFC Championship game last season with another playoff run. However, the Titans were defeated by the Baltimore Ravens this time in the wild card round. Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith left the team to become the new head coach of the Atlanta Falcons. So there is a chance that Tennesee’s dominant offense has some changes next season.
Ryan Tannehill showed that last year was not a fluke. During the first season of his four-year $118 million deal, he threw for 3,819 yards, 33 touchdowns and only seven interceptions. Tannehill had a lot of help on offense as all three of Tennesee’s top weapons in the passing game had career years.
Second-year receiver A.J. Brown gained a more consistent role in the offense. Brown’s 70 receptions for 1,075 yards and 11 touchdowns over the course of 14 games earned him his first Pro Bowl nod. Former fifth overall pick Corey Davis finally established himself as a vital player to the Titans offense after nearly reaching 1,000 yards (984 yards) and scoring five touchdowns. Titans starting tight end Jonnu Smith also had career highs with 41 receptions for 448 yards and eight touchdowns.
For the second season in a row, Derrick Henry led the league in rushing attempts, rushing yards, and rushing touchdowns. This year he rushed for 378 rushes for 2,027 yards and 17 touchdowns. Henry was extremely dominant this season. He is the first running back since Adrian Peterson in 2012 to rush for 2,000+ yards. He is the eighth player in NFL history to reach that feat. Only four running backs have ever rushed for more yards in a single season than Henry did last year. He had ten games where he rushed for over 100 yards, four games where he rushed for over 150 yards, and three games where he rushed for over 200 yards. Henry also six multi-touchdown games including a three-touchdown game in Week 12 against the Colts.
Tennessee’s defense regressed last season in a major way. The season before their defense was able to lock up some of the league’s more talented offenses including the Baltimore Ravens that featured MVP Lamar Jackson. This past season the Titans struggled to generate a pass rush which resulted in poor play from their secondary. Jadeveon Clowney and Vic Beasley did not have a single sack for Tennesee despite signing large contracts with the team. Neither finished the year with the team. Clowney was lost for the season because he tore his meniscus eight games into the year and Beasley was cut after seven games.
The Titans were very very active this offseason making some major personnel changes. Not only did they lose Corey Davis and Jonnu Smith in free agency, but they also cut Adoree Jackson, Malcolm Butler, and Kenny Vaccaro. Jadeveon Clowney is expected to return to the team even though he are still available. Tennesee also traded their 2020 first-round pick, Isaiah Wilson, to the Miami Dolphins after a brutal first year in the league off the field. Wilson was moved in an exchange of two Day 3 picks.
But Tennesee managed to retain Jayon Brown on a one-year, $5.3 million deal. Their major moves this offseason was signing former Steeler Bud Dupree to a five-year $82.5 million deal and former Colt Dencio Autry to a three-year, $21.7 million deal. They also signed veterans Janoris Jenkins and Kevin Johnson to help fill the voids along their secondary and Josh Reynolds to add some needed depth at wide receiver.
2021 NFL Picks
Tennessee will have nine picks to use in the 2021 NFL Draft
First Round (one pick): No. 22
Second Round (one pick): No. 53
Third Round (two picks): No. 85, No. 101
Fourth Round (one picks): No. 127
Fifth Round (one pick): No. 167
Sixth Round (two picks): No. 206, No. 216
Seventh Round (one pick): No. 233
Cornerback– The Titans gutted their secondary letting go of veteran Malcolm Butler and former first-round pick Adoree Jackson. 2020 second-round pick Kristian Fulton is expected to slide into Butler’s role as the slot corner. But Tennesee needs a true number one cornerback that is capable of covering the top receivers in the AFC South like Brandin Cooks, T.Y. Hilton, and D.J. Chark.
Wide Receiver- Even though Corey Davis was only a crucial member of the Titans offense for one season, his loss is a major one for the Titans offense to deal with. They need a solid number two receiver who could take attention away from A.J. Brown or take advantage of when teams focus on Brown.
Right Tackle- The Isaiah Wilson experiment is over a lot quicker than many expected. So the Titans still need to find a replacement for Jack Conklin who was voted First-Team All-Pro in his first season in Cleveland. Since Ty Sambrailo is already on the roster they can afford to take a developmental tackle if they cannot take a prospect who can start for them right now.
Tight End- Jonnu Smith leaving the team leaves a major void that the tight end spot for Tennesee. Smith was a major weapon for Tennesee over the middle of the fields and in the red zone. If the Titans can find a prospect with starting upside, much like Smith was when they drafted him in 2017, they could develop him into their starting tight end in a year or two.
Nose Tackle- Since DaQuan Jones is still a free agent, Tennesee is going to need a new starting nose tackle. Their nose tackle should be a stout run defender that they utilize during early downs.
Strong Safety- An underrated void on the Titans roster is a strong safety. Earlier this offseason the Titans released starting strong safety Kenny Vaccaro. They have Amani Hooker as their listed starter right now, but Tennesee should add a player who can compete with Hooker or provide depth for that position.
Interior Offensive Lineman- Both Ben Jones and Roger Saffold are getting up there in age and on top of that Nate Davis has not played great as the team’s starting right guard. Tennesee should add a versatile interior lineman who can compete with Davis this season or take over for Jones or Saffold in the near future.
2021 Draft Targets
Pick No. 22: Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech
Two weeks ago Caleb Farley was considered a borderline top-10 prospect in this year’s draft. But after his second back surgery in two years teams may be cautious about selecting Farley early in the draft. It wouldn’t be shocking if Farley the fourth cornerback off the board. Tennesee is in need of a true number one corner and Titans general manager Jon Robinson is not afraid to take risks with their first-round pick. Corey Davis felt like a boom or bust pick in 2017. Jeffery Simmons was recovering from a torn ACL when Tennesee selected him in 2019. Last year’s first-round pick Isaiah Wilson was not viewed as a first-round prospect but had the upside to play fantastic in Tennesee’s offense. If Farley can recover and stay healthy he could develop into an elite cornerback and be the steal of the draft.
Pick No. 53: James Hudson, OT, Cincinnati
For the second year in a row, the Titans could take a raw right tackle prospect that has great upside. Like Isaiah Wilson, Hudson is a raw tackle prospect that has room to develop but has shown flashes of great play during his college career. Unlike Wilson, Hudson does not have off-the-field issues and appears to be committed to football. Even though Hudson played left tackle at Cincinnati he would be able to make the transition to right tackle. Tennesee could develop Hudson the way they planned to develop Wilson.
Pick No. 85: Nico Collins, WR, Michigan
The Tennesee Titans need to add a receiver to fill the void left by Corey Davis. Nico Collins is slightly bigger and faster than Corey Davis. His athleticism gives him the upside to become a dangerous offensive weapon. In Collins, Tennesee could replace Davis’ role and production from last season for a fraction of the value they spent on Davis when they selected him fifth overall. If Collins didn’t opt out this past season he could be valued a lot higher in this deep receiver class.
Pick No. 101: Tyler Shelvin, DT, LSU
Picking Tyler Shelvin late in the third round could end up being a steal by the Titans if they select him here. Shelvin is a pure nose tackle. He likely will not be great at getting after the quarterback throughout his career. But his 6’2″ 350 lbs frame will help him defend against the run at the next level. Shelvin could end up having a great long career as a starting NFL nose tackle. He could start immediately in DaQuan Jones’s spot along the defensive line and be the run defender they missed when they traded Jurrell Casey last season.