What Should the Titans do in the 1st Round of the 2023 Draft?
Updated: Apr 24
Following free agency, huge holes remain throughout the Titans roster.
As happens every year, there has been constant speculation as to where Tennessee may go with the 11th overall pick. There have been trades up to the top 3, trading back, and suggestions that Tennessee will take a QB, WR, or OT.
While you could make the argument for drafting any of those positions, Wide Receiver and Quarterback are easily the most intriguing. Likewise, they are the most important for success beyond 2023.
Ryan Tannehill's 2023 season was subpar due to many factors like a poor offensive line, poor playcalling, and injury. Still, the most significant issue was a lack of weapons.
Treylon Burks, Chig Okonkwo, and of course Derrick Henry had flashes but there was little depth or consistency, especially among pass catchers.
Given their current position, these are 3 players the Titans should consider in the first round:
1. Jaxson Smith-Njigba, Wide Receiver, Ohio State
The consensus #1 receiver on many draft boards, JSN has a smoothness to his game parallel to many recent receivers out of Ohio State like Garret Wilson or Terry McLaurin.
Playing predominantly from the slot, he has incredible route running and separation ability. He has an instinct to find the open space in a zone and will become a Quarterback's best friend. Coming from a school with an impressive list of WRs, he has extremely high potential but also significant risk involved.
The hamstring injury that kept him out of the entire 2022-23 season is a glaring concern, one that Jon Robinson would be quick to overlook. With new management, though, we will learn a lot about draft tendencies and how exactly Carthon sees the team.
2. Anthony Richardson, Quarterback, Florida
Richardson has an incredible physical skillset that I have not seen in a Quarterback since Cam Newton. While his 17-9 TD-INT ratio in his final year at Florida is not terribly impressive, he showed the ability to step up in big games and use his size and speed to his advantage.
At 6'4 232lbs, Richardson has tools different than most Quarterbacks across the league. He has a unique ability to break tackles similar to Josh Allen but also has standout speed that can beat the secondary. As a passer, he has a huge arm and looks effortless on his deep throws. While there are concerns over his mid-yardage accuracy, there is a lot to like.
With Tannehill still under contract, Richardson could benefit greatly from sitting for a year. It would also provide some competition for Malik Willis who has had mixed reviews as far as his progress since entering the league last year. I still believe in Willis but as someone coming from the SEC, there is less doubt about how Richardson's skillset may transition to the league.
3. Jordan Addison, Receiver, USC
Addison is one of my favorite players in the draft regardless of where he may go off the board. He is extremely well rounded and capable of providing a deep threat with his respectable 4.49 speed and elite separation. His incredible route running makes him especially dangerous in mid-yardage situation around the sticks.
While he does not have the strength of someone like Treylon Burks, he supplements it with mobility and his consistency in beating defenders to a spot. He reminds me closely of Stefon Diggs and along with one other receiver, would be a great compliment to Burks.
To my surprise, Addison is not terribly high on many boards. As a result, the Titans may be able to afford trading back in order to select Addison.
Most Likely Selections:
There has been plenty of speculation but realistically, the most likely selection is not one that the people are talking about.
The Titans most likely route is a tackle. Ohio State's Paris Johnson Jr. would fill a need but as aforementioned, would be ignoring an even more significant issue.
The team's first round pick will tell a lot about Ran Carthon's view of the current Titans roster. Does he believe in Tannehill? Does he think the defense is set? Is he willing to take a risk?
While filling a need is good, there would be well-deserved adverse reactions if the Titans did not come out of the first two rounds with a receiver.
Lately, there has been speculation that the Titans may listen to offers for Tannehill. Of course, this would be making a 1st round QB even more important. It would also be sacrificing the 2023 season.