Sunday, April 30, 2023

Tennessee Titans 2023 NFL Draft Grades Roundup

The 2023 NFL Draft is now in the rearview mirror, and we have compiled a consensus ranking using NFL draft grades from a variety of sites.

What draft grades have the media given to the Tennessee Titans? What are they saying about the Titans' 2023 draft haul?

MORE: 2023 NFL Strength of Schedule - Grade: A-

Skoronski is a great fit in Tennessee. He has a Zack Martin-type ceiling inside and has the versatility to play tackle if needed. Trading up for Levis, despite his inconsistency, was not outrageous given that Ryan Tannehill's contract is scheduled to void after the 2023 season, per Over the Cap. I expect Spears to be a valuable contributor, despite his lack of an ACL.

The Titans parted with fourth- and sixth-round picks for receivers Julio Jones and Robert Woods in trades from previous years. Whyle was a good find in the fifth, though, as a potential threat in the red zone and intermediate passing game. The team hopes Duncan can use his athleticism more consistently as he matures.

ESPN - Grade: B+

I went long on the Titans' Day 2 in my Friday night "winners" column, so go there if you don't want to see me repeat myself. The synopsis is: I'm a believer in Will Levis (33). I think he will be Tennessee's starting quarterback, maybe even as soon as this season. He has all the tools to be a longtime starter in the NFL, and I was stunned he lasted into Round 2. Does he have flaws? Absolutely. He was downright reckless at times last season, trusting his strong arm to fit throws into tight spaces but instead getting picked off. He took too many sacks. But he has a high ceiling, and I think he could thrive with pro talent around him.

Ultimately, Ran Carthon's first draft as Tennessee general manager will be remembered for what happens with this pick. The strange thing is I said something similar after last year's draft, when former Titans general manager Jon Robinson landed Malik Willis in Round 3. It's clear the new regime doesn't see Willis as its future franchise signal-caller, however, and my grade for Levis is much higher than it was for Willis a year ago.

The downside of landing Levis, as I mentioned Friday, is that it involved a significant trade up. The Titans moved up eight spots in a trade with the Cardinals, giving up Nos. 41 and 72 plus a third-rounder next year (and adding No. 81 in this draft).

In the rest of Carthon's group, Peter Skoronski (11) was my top-ranked offensive lineman in the entire class, and running back Tyjae Spears (81) is extremely talented, assuming his medical reports check out. Offensive tackle Jaelyn Duncan (186) has starter tools if he can put everything together.

I still have questions about the receivers on this depth chart, but maybe Carthon can work some magic in the veteran market after the draft. One thing is for sure: The AFC South got much more interesting after this draft.

SI - Grade: B+

In general manager Ran Carthon's first draft, he found a litany of offensive pieces for the future. Skoronski will play either at tackle or guard, and either way replaces a veteran in Taylor Lewan or Nate Davis. In the second round, Levis's slide finally ended, and he will now sit behind Ryan Tannehill for a year while he learns the pro game. Spears should immediately form a dynamic duo with Derrick Henry in the backfield, giving Tennessee a back with wiggle and great balance. Finally, Duncan is a sleeper from Maryland who could end up starting down the line.

PFF - Grade: A

Day 1: The big question is whether Skoronski will play tackle or guard at the next level. He played tackle in 2022, though, and had a tremendous season. As Northwestern's starting left tackle this past season, he allowed just six total pressures on 474 pass-blocking snaps.

Day 2: Will Levis' slide ends early on Day 2, with the Titans trading up to Pick 33 to grab the signal-caller. Levis has supreme arm talent and an ultra-quick release, but the big knock on him is how little he put that into action. He lacked high-quality throws at Kentucky last season, which played a part in his middling 65.8 passing grade on the year. The good news is that Levis lands in an offense that will help open up some downfield opportunities.

Spears profiles as a nice complement to Derrick Henry in Tennessee's backfield. He is dangerous in the open field and is coming off an elite final season at Tulane during which he forced 63 missed tackles on the ground. Spears averaged at least 4.5 yards after contact per attempt in each of the past two seasons.

Day 3: After letting Austin Hooper walk in free agency, Tennessee adds another option at tight end to complement Chigoziem Okonkwo. Whyle has a big frame at 6-foot-7 and will find space over the middle of the field as a receiver, but he isn't likely going to be a physical, in-line blocker at 248 pounds.

Duncan has good footwork but can play a bit top-heavy, often struggling to anchor with not enough sand in the pants. He struggles against power, as the big Michigan ends pushed him around a bit, but he's a great athlete in space and fits very well in this Titans zone scheme. Tennessee has done well to overhaul their offensive line that was desperate for improvements.

Dowell is big at 6-foot-3 and earned an 85.2 receiving grade in 2022 with 15.3 yards per reception and 3.00 yards per route run. He's an explosive downfield threat for Tennessee and stays in-state, adding much-needed depth to the Titans' wide receiver room.

Fox Sports - Grade: C+

The Titans focused on offense as they needed to — all six selections addressed that side of the ball, in fact — but it's a head-scratcher that they waited until their last pick, in the seventh round, to address arguably their biggest need: wide receiver. Colton Dowell might not even make the team. Tennessee still has a lot of work to do at that position.

USA Today - Grade: C-

They filled a need with a quality player, first-rounder Peter Skoronski arguably this year's best blocking prospect, before "rescuing" a quarterback in free fall for the second straight draft — moving up for QB Will Levis with the second pick of the second round, a selection that speaks volumes about last year's Round 3 investment in Malik Willis. The Titans still don't seem recovered from the 2022 draft trade of WR A.J. Brown and don't appear any closer to replacing him.

The Ringer - Grade: A-

The Titans were widely connected to quarterback Will Levis in the first round, and while I was never super high on the former Kentucky quarterback, the fact that Tennessee landed him in the second round feels like a fantastic value. Levis has the tools and toughness to develop into a quality starter, and now he won't face the same pressure to start right away he would have felt if he had been a first rounder—and that could be a silver lining to his unexpected fall. Additionally, Tennessee was able to land a high-level pass protector in the first round instead, which could give Levis better support down the line. All in all, that series of events looks like a pretty positive outcome for a Tennessee team at a pivot point in 2023. I am also a fan of the team's third-round running back pick, Tyjae Spears, who adds a lightning element to Derrick Henry's thunder.

Sporting News - Grade: A-

This is an incredible offense-only haul for new GM Ran Carthon. Although some minor docking for no wide receiver of note, They hacked away at improving their offensive line and adding a couple needed new versatile playmakers at the same time for their new franchise QB. They had to be thrilled to get a shot at Levis in Round 2 as they try to move forward from Ryan Tannehill and Malik Willis. Dowell is a good developmental big vertical threat for Levis' cannon arm.

Touchdown Wire - Grade: B

The addition of Peter Skoronski combines best player available and positional need quite well. I'm not sure whether Skoronski will be an NFL tackle, but if the Titans kick him inside to guard, I think he could be the next Zack Martin. And Tulane's Tyjae Spears is a personal favorite — few prospects in this class were more fun to watch, and with his power, contact balance, and ability as a receiver, Spears is more than just a smaller gadget guy. He could be another Austin Ekeler. Maryland's Jaelyn Duncan went about where he should have as a monstrously gifted blocker with all kinds of technical work ahead of him.

The extent to which you deem Tennessee's draft an eventual success is how the Titans hit on Will Levis, who they traded up to take early in the second round. Levis is a power thrower with plus athleticism, but the accuracy and decision-making are below par. I thought that Levis had third-round tape, but we'll see if the Titans can give him the offensive structure and defined reads he'll need to succeed over time.

More: 2023 NFL Draft Grade Roundups

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