McShay, who has covered the NFL draft for ESPN since 2006, wrote on Monday that he’s hearing Tennessee could be interested in drafting a quarterback in the first round.
The plan would be to sit the quarterback in 2022 and then move on from current starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill before the 2023 season.
If the Titans release Tannehill after 2022, his dead cap hit is only $18.8 million (compared to $57.4 million this offseason).
Another team that popped up in my conversations about quarterbacks was the Tennessee Titans, who pick at No. 26. They were the AFC’s top team last season at 12-5, and there are bigger roster needs, including wide receiver. But Ryan Tannehill will turn 34 this summer, and Tennessee could drastically reduce its salary at that position if it drafts a QB this year, sits him in 2022 and then parts ways with Tannehill in 2023.
The Titans’ roster is in a good spot where they don’t have a ton of needs that need to be addressed. That means Tennessee can afford a “luxury pick” like selecting a quarterback. Or they could choose to trade down and secure more draft capital. I think trading down is probably a likely scenario. The Titans could look for a good value pick at No. 26 and if there’s not one available, they can send that pick elsewhere and add a few more picks later in the draft (Tennessee doesn’t currently have a second-round pick, thanks to the Julio Jones trade last offseason).
If the Titans choose to go with a quarterback, they’ll likely be choosing from Sam Howell (North Carolina), Matt Corral (Ole Miss), or Desmond Ridder (Cincinnati).
An anonymous NFL quarterbacks coach told The Athletic this week that Howell is his team’s top-graded quarterback in this year’s draft.
Our highest-graded quarterback this year is Sam Howell. I’ve got a second-round grade on him. We’ve got a third-round grade on Kenny Pickett, and if you looked at his 2020 film, it’d be a sixth- or seventh-round grade.
It’s obviously unclear which team feels that way about Howell, but it’s a good reminder that draft analysts and NFL front offices don’t always have the same opinion when it comes to draft prospects.
McShay also noted on Monday that he’s hearing that a franchise won’t seriously consider a quarterback until the Pittsburgh Steelers at No. 20. If that’s the case, then the Titans could have several quarterback options to choose from in the first round.
We’ll see how it plays out, but it sounds like it could be an interesting first round for the Titans on Thursday night.
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