The Tennessee Titans enter the 2022 campaign with a ton of questions to answer, and that’s especially true on offense after letting go of two starters along the offense line and trading away their No. 1 receiver, AJ Brown.
But some of those questions could be answered by the team’s most recent draft picks.
Tennessee added nine players via the 2022 NFL draft and the team is hoping the youngsters can make an immediate impact, something the Titans haven’t gotten from general manager Jon Robinson’s recent draft classes in the past two years.
Expecting any rookie to make a big impact in their first season is always a risky proposition, but the Titans will need at least a few of their youngsters to step up in 2022.
That said, we’re going to do our best to try and rank Tennessee’s 2022 draft picks based on their projected impact for this coming season. Here’s what we came up with.
Petit-Frere, who by all accounts will need a season to develop, will compete for the starting right tackle job, a role we expect to ultimately go to 2021 second-round pick, Dillon Radunz.
That means Petit-Frere will be a backup in his first season, so he’ll need an injury to see the field. And even in the event that happens, there’s no guarantee the rookie will be the one Tennessee turns to.
The last thing the Titans want to do is put Willis out there before he’s ready, which is why the team will carry a third quarterback (Logan Woodside) to keep the rookie from being a Ryan Tannehill injury away from the field.
The only avenues for Willis to see the field in 2022 is if there’s a catastrophic injury situation at the position, or if the Titans draw up plays to utilize his impressive skill set, something head coach Mike Vrabel said was possible.
However, we aren’t holding our breath to see much of that. It’s possible we don’t see Willis at all on the field in 2022, so enjoy whatever snaps he gets during the preseason.
While Jackson isn’t a lock to make the roster, we project he will and at least contribute to special teams in his first season. Playing on defense will be another story, though.
There will be a ton of competition for snaps in the secondary, but helping Jackson is the fact that he can play in multiple spots, something he did at Tennessee. Regardless, we don’t expect to see much of him in 2022.
Like Jackson, Campbell should make the roster out of training camp and make his mark on special teams. Also like Jackson, Campbell will have a tough time getting on the field on defense, as he’ll be behind David Long, Zach Cunningham and Monty Rice on the depth chart.
Okonkwo will enter the season as the No. 3 tight end behind Austin Hooper and Geoff Swaim, and while we don’t expect him to have a huge role in his first season, Chig should be involved in the passing attack to some extent.
Should he prove to be a reliable blocker in his first season, Okonkwo may be able to surpass Swaim on the depth chart to garner a bigger role.
Haskins might be Derrick Henry’s heir apparent, but The King will reign for at least two more years (he’s signed through 2023), so Haskins will have to wait for his opportunity to seize the No. 1 role.
In the mean time, Haskins will be one of the backs to spell Henry to help lessen his workload a bit. We expect him to be the top back to take carries when Henry needs a breather, and he could be a factor on third downs if he proves to be as reliable a pass-catcher and blocker as he was in college.
There are a few avenues for McCreary to see the field in 2021.
For starters, he’ll almost certainly be involved on special teams in Year 1. Adding to that, McCreary should be the fourth cornerback on the field when Tennessee plays out of the dime defense, which they played a lot of in 2021.
A starting role isn’t out of the question for the Auburn product, either, as starter and fellow cornerback, Caleb Farley, has injury concerns and is no lock to take a second-year leap.
If Farley struggles or has to miss any time, McCreary could step in.
With the wide open situation the Titans have at wide receiver, it wouldn’t at all surprise us to see Philips become an important part of the passing game during his first season.
A fairly polished route-runner and receiver as a whole, Philips will operate out of the slot and we expect him to, at the very least, make a slightly bigger impact than Okonkwo will in the passing game.
No Titans rookie has more on their shoulders in 2022 than Burks, who was drafted with one of the picks acquired in the AJ Brown trade. Titans fans were fully on board with drafting Burks going into the draft, but as a secondary option to Brown.
Now, instead of being behind both Brown and Robert Woods, Burks is in line to be the No. 2 receiver and is tasked with helping to replace some of the Tennessee production lost this offseason.
Whatever the case may be, Burks stands to be more involved in 2022 than any other Titans rookie.