Jim Wyatt, SENIOR WRITER/EDITOR
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Another week into February, and now we’re counting the days to the NFL Combine later this month.
But first, don’t forget about Valentine’s Day!
Here’s an early gift from me – this Tuesday’s Titans mailbag.
David Hernandez from Monterrey, Mexico
Question: Hi Jim. Thank you for your job of keeping us informed of our team. I’m a fan of the franchise since they were “Los Petroleros de Houston” (in Spanish) and I know I’ll see them Super Bowl Champions soon. My question is the following: With the retainment of some players what is your point of view of the positions that need to be reinforced for the following season?
Jim: Hola David. Biggest needs in my opinion, in no particular order: Edge Rushers, receivers, interior o-linemen, and big and disruptive d-linemen. Some depth at other positions also needed. These could be addressed in free agency and/or the draft.
Joe Likavec from Telford, England
Question: As the draft approaches does the team look only to division 1 for players? Do they ever look at some of the smaller universities and colleges (North Dakota State for example seems to be an annual powerhouse of the smaller universities). There could be a hidden gem at a smaller school! Enjoy reading your column!
Jim: Hey Joe. Appreciate the email. Under GM Jon Robinson, the Titans have drafted some smaller school guys. In 2016, his first draft, the team selected cornerback LeShaun Sims from Southern Utah, and the following year he picked players from smaller schools like Florida International (Jonnu Smith), Chattanooga (Corey Levin) and Villanova (Brad Seaton). While he’s gone heavy on players from big conferences, he’s definitely not opposed to finding the smaller school gems as well. Kevin Byard (MTSU) and Corey Davis (Western Michigan) obviously played Division 1 football but not at big conference schools.
Takamoto Shimizu from Osaka, Japan
Question: Hello, Mr. Wyatt. I am a junior high school student from Japan. I am really enjoying watching the Titans game. I have two questions.
1. I watched the AFC Championship game and realized that Sony Michel’s success was from the nice block by James Develin (FB) and Rob Gronkowski (TE). They were doing a perfect job blocking Chiefs’ linebackers in the area about 5 yards from scrimmage line. For the TEs, we have Delanie Walker, one of the best TEs in the NFL, and also we have Jonnu Smith, so I think our TE group is really good. However, we don’t have any fullbacks who can line up between Marcus Mariota and Derrick Henry. I think we need a fullback like Develin, Zach Line(Saints), or Anthony Sherman(Chiefs). In my opinion, I think we can utilize MyCole Pruitt as a fullback. I’m not sure if he will like the position or not, but I saw many nice blocks by him in the Jacksonville game in December when Henry gained 238 yards on the ground. I think placing the fullback between Mariota and Henry as a lead blocker will really help Henry’s power-running style succeed a lot more. What do you think about my opinion?
2. My second question is about WRs. How about adding a veteran receiver? I think the failure of Justin Hunter and Dorial Green-Beckham was because of the lack of experience in the WR group overall. Now we have a young WR group again. A veteran receiver Rishard Matthews was here last offseason, but he is not here anymore. I think receivers like Corey Davis, Taywan Taylor, and Tajae Sharpe (and of course Darius Jennings and Cameron Batson too.) can step up to the next level if we get a veteran WR to mentor them. I think we need the leadership and experience added to the WR group. I really want to say thank you for getting me informed even from Japan. Titan up!
Jim: Mexico, England and Japan back-to-back-to-back to open the mailbag! Great to hear from you Takamoto! Well, the Titans signed a fullback in Jalston Fowler during the 2018 season, but he was waived before playing. The team used Luke Stocker in that role, and I thought he did well. You make a good observation on MyCole Pruitt, because he’s really a good blocker and he performed well last season. I do think he could be used in that role moving forward, along with Stocker (who would need to be re-signed), but looking ahead, I still don’t see the Titans having a ton of packages with the fullback on the field in 2019. I expect new OC Arthur Smith to use the fullback some, but probably not a ton. As for the receiver position, I think it’s a good idea to add a veteran myself. The group is young, with talent. Adding a veteran to the group would help, and I won’t be surprised if that happens.
Jack Warner from Simi Valley, California
Question: Long time Franchise fan here… I live in SoCal so watch a lot of Rams and Chargers ball. So… the year we drafted Marcus I actually wanted Leonard Williams. In modern football the tall boring dude in the pocket still dominates. Brady, Rivers, Brees… and just for good measure add Goff, Ryan, Rodgers and Stafford. IMHO, I would love a N’Keal Harry, Polite, Lawrence RD1 maybe Sweat. And yes, sir I’d take Ryan Finley in RD2 unless they think he’ll drop to 3.. Easy calculation, if MM8 plays 16 games and throws for 5k and a playoff berth then we’ve got our franchise QB and a good backup. If Marcus has another meh year, we try Finley in 20. BTW, Jets might be willing to part with Leo Williams this off season. Can you imagine Polite coming in for Rak and Leo next to JC?
Jim: Hey Jack. Thanks for the feedback. Interesting thoughts here. Mariota for 5K? Man, that would be a big jump! I’d take Leonard Williams if he becomes available. I liked him coming out, too.
Nancy Peck from Spring Hill, Tennessee
Question: Jim, are there ever tours offered of the Titans facility for senior citizens, scouts, pee wee teams, etc. to include the training room, locker room, weight room, meeting rooms, and inside the bubble? I’ve enjoyed training camp practices, but wondered if this other was an option. TitanUp!
Jim: Hello Nancy. Nothing at this point on tours of the facility, but I can tell you the team is developing a plan for Nissan Stadium tours that will launch later this spring. Stay tuned!
Juarez Santana from Louisville, Kentucky
Question: Greetings Jim. Very optimistic Titans fan here, my first time mailing you so I hope this gets through. 3 questions; Do you think its a good idea for the titans to 1. Grab an edge rusher in free agency (because most teams ahead of us will grab defensive players in the Draft? 2. Grab a OG 1st Rd in the draft (because there aren’t any big name OG’s in free agency)? 3. Grab a WR in the 2nd Rd (because 1st rd WR talent will drop to the 2nd round due to all the defensive players being grabbed in Rd1). BTW, I like the new OC’s talks of going back to the twin TE set we had in 2017 and also involving a variety of other schemes.
Jim: Good to hear from you Juarez. I like your thinking, and the areas to attack. I think at some point – either in free agency or the draft – your areas will be addressed. So much hinges on what happens in free agency – and which guys get tagged/re-signed by their current teams. And the combine will shake up how things fall early in the draft as well. So there’s a lot TBD in the next month.
Kenneth Bonds from Madison, Alabama
Question: I am planning a visit for me and my seven year old son to come to the draft. Can you please give me some information on what there is to do and where these events take place? Thanks for all you do and any assistance you can give me.
Jim: Hey Kenneth. Here’s some quick-hitting info:
The main NFL Draft stage will be on First and Broadway. Draft picks on the main stage will take place the evenings of April 25 (Thursday) and April 26 (Friday) and during the afternoon of April 27 (Saturday).
The NFL Draft Experience, a three-day football festival, will be held in the parking lots and areas surrounding Nissan Stadium.
The NFL Draft Red Carpet will take place on April 25 (Thursday) at The Green at Riverfront Park.
Concerts with “high level talent” are being planned for on the main stage on Broadway all three days, and on another stage across the Cumberland River. The performers will be announced at a later date.
Admission is free. There will be limited seating areas (and some VIP areas), but the idea is most fans can stand, and walk.
The Draft Experience will include:
Autograph Stage with current NFL players and NFL Legends.
Interactive games, Play Football clinics, and PLAY 60 Zone for the smallest NFL fans.
Photo with the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
NFL Shop at Draft with exclusive NFL merchandise.
The hours of operation for the NFL Draft Experience are as follows:
April 25 (Thursday): 12 p.m. – 10 p.m.
April 26 (Friday): 12 p.m. – 10 p.m.
April 27 (Saturday): 9 p.m. – 6 p.m.
It should be a blast.
Allister Banasiak from Clarksville, Tennessee
Question: What are the chances of the Titans drafting Marquise “Hollywood” Brown in the 1st or trade up in the second round to get him?
Jim: Hey Allister. Well, I just did another tour of the mock drafts, and five of the 26 “experts” have the Titans picking him at No.19, so there’s that …
Sid Rivard from Crestview Hills, Kentucky
Question: Hey Jim I’ve stood by our Titans for the last 10ish Years (or since I have been watching football). Many of the people keep bringing up the o-line as an issue, which I agree inside was not to great this year. But why are we looking to the draft or even free agency, we have a massive slugger in Dennis Kelly who is definitely worth a shot inside in my personal couch opinion. Andy Reid has turned tackles into guards throughout his career and fairly successfully and if I am not mistaken Kelly was drafted Reid’s last year in Philly. First rounder needs to be pass rusher, but second we should be looking to move up and snag Grier or someone like him.
Jim: Hey Sid. Well, I will say this has been a popular question/suggestion this offseason. Is Kelly capable? Yes, he can play guard as well as tackle. Will it happen? I’ve said before he’s a valuable swing guy to use all over the line. I suspect he’ll be in the mix, but I also expect more competition in the form of draft picks/free agents. Grier for the Titans in the second round? Nah.
October Williams from Memphis, Tennessee
Question: Hey Jim, huge fan I read the mailbags every chance I get! What do think the signing of Hroniss Grasu will do for our offensive line? Especially since Mariota took snaps from him during his wonderful years at Oregon. Titan Up!
Jim: Hello October. Hope you’re having a good February! I like the sound of Hroniss, but judging from the reaction on Twitter, a lot of folks seem to think he’s going to step right in and be the starting center on opening day. I’m not saying he doesn’t have a chance, but he’s going to have to earn it. Others will be in the mix, so he’s going to have to perform well during the offseason and in camp to have a chance. His first goal should be to make the 53-man roster, because at this point, I don’t think that should be considered a given.
Have a great week everyone!