Image Credit: (Gary Vasquez/USA Today Sports)
Written by: Nicholas Mullick Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/nicholas-mullick-354076184/
With Training Camp about to start for the NFL in a few weeks, there are questions that follow each team. Like I did with the Buffalo Bills, I will be doing the Top 5 Biggest questions for every team heading into Training Camp. Next up is the Tennessee Titans who did not have a 1st round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. But there are still questions that remain with this team.
1. Who will backup RB Derrick Henry?
Derrick Henry is one of the most talented running backs I have ever seen. However last season he suffered a foot injury and was taken out for the rest of the regular season. Luckily he returned in the playoffs, but they got eliminated in the Divisional Round of the Playoffs. Dontrell Hillard showed flashes last year, and if he can impress in training camp, he should be the favorite for the job. Hassan Haskins was drafted in the 4th round of the 2022 NFL Draft and he could potentially be something if developed right. Trenton Cannon has been a journeyman throughout the league and has mainly been a special teams player. Jordan Wilkins has promise in Indianapolis, but he just wasn’t consistent. Maybe he can be more consistent in Tennessee. As of now, the role can be won by anybody, or the Titans could sign a veteran player in free agency to add to the competition. It is important to figure this out just in case Henry gets hurt again and the Titans have an option.
2. With AJ Brown and Julio Jones departing, who is going to step up?
I still am shocked that the Titans made the decision to trade WR AJ Brown to the Philadelphia Eagles during the 2022 NFL Draft. It's not going to be Julio Jones, who suffered massive levels of regression and the Titans cut ties with him. So, with both the Titans receiving, the core has to step up to replace them. To be honest, Robert Woods will likely get the number 1 role, but I still don’t think he will be healthy to take the job in week 1 due to tearing his ACL. If he is not ready to go, then who is next? Nick Westbrook-Ikhine was very impressive and came out of nowhere last season and a strong camp could make him a starter. I am intrigued to see what rookie 1st-round pick Treylon Burks will do, but he has had issues in training camp (We will get to that). Dez Fitzpatrick, I mean it's never a good sign that a 4th round rookie gets cut their rookie season. Maybe with a year of development Fitzpatrick can improve. The rest did not impress, and to be honest, it would not shock me if they signed another player in free agency to bolster the receiver cor.
3. How concerned should the Titans be with WR Treylon Burks Conditioning Issues?
The Tennessee Titans made a big move during the draft, trading AJ Brown to the Philadelphia Eagles in exchange for the pick they used on Treylon Burks. The Titans are really betting on Burks this season salary-wise and production-wise. However, there is concern regarding the Burks as many reports came out that Burks is having issues with conditioning drills in the NFL. Which I originally was not too concerned with, as I thought it was just him trying to adapt to the NFL and he might have been slacking in his workouts. However, the Titans wide receiver coach Rob Moore revealed in an interview that Burks has asthma. Now having Asthma is not the end of the world as keep in mind RB Emmitt Smith, RB Jerome Bettis, and LB Chris Draft all had asthma, and they were able to have great careers in the NFL. However, the concern should still be there as they have to heavily watch and help Burks adapt to playing in the NFL with asthma. The Titans actions in the next few weeks will show how their concern level will be.
4. Who will start at Tight End? Let's be real this position has been a mystery since Delaine Walker and Jonnu Smith departed the team. Austin Hooper signed a one-year deal with Tennessee as he was disappointed in Cleveland. He was not terrible, but he just was not a fit on that offense. Maybe he can recapture his Atlanta version with a change of scenery in Tennessee. Geoff Swain is not great but had a career year last season, but overall has more weaknesses than strengths as a receiving tight end. He might be more utilized as a blocking tight end. Chigoziem Okonkwo was drafted in the 4th round and is a decent prospect. He can start if he develops quicker than anticipated. Tommy Hudson was injured last season, and if he showed something he could potentially be a guy that starts. This is a positional battle to watch for Tennessee as it can provide QB Ryan Tannehill with another weapon to throw to.
5. Who will be the number 1 cornerback on the defense?
Even though the Titans for the past few seasons have made moves to fix this position, I am not confident in who will be the number 1 cornerback on this team. Kristen Fulton could be a player if he can stay healthy. But at least he played more games than Caleb Farley has and hopefully he heals from his back, shoulder, and knee injuries. There is a reason the Titans took him in the 1st round of the 2021 NFL Draft and hopefully he can showcase why next season. Roger McCreary was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2022 NFL Draft and hopefully, he can develop quickly and perform well this season. Buster Skrine is past his prime but could have plenty left in the tank. Elijah Molden showed promise, but to me is more of a nickel cornerback. Chris Jackson did not do much last season and will need a strong training camp for playing time. The Titans still have uncertainty with this position and hopefully, they can figure out who will start at the cornerback position.