NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Titans kick off rookie minicamp on Friday at Saint Thomas Sports Park.
It’s when first-round pick Rashaan Evans will take the field for the first time, surrounded by other draft picks, undrafted free agents and players invited on a tryout basis.
(Note: Friday’s session is closed to media, but Saturday’s session is open. So reports will come over the weekend).
Here’s a look at five questions heading in:
Can Rashaan Evans become a Day 1 starter?**
The Titans drafted Alabama’s Rashaan Evans with the 22nd overall pick of the draft, and most agree the team got a player capable of being a three-down linebacker. But the team also signed veteran Will Compton, formerly with the Redskins, and he won’t go down without a fight. Veteran Wesley Woodyard is coming off a stellar season, and is ready to hold down his spot. Evans will aim to build momentum right out of the gate, starting today.
How much of an impact will Harold Landry, III make early?**
Just like Evans, Landry has a chance to be an immediate contributor for the Titans. But the team’s second-round pick out of Boston College has some experienced players ahead of him in outside linebackers Derrick Morgan and Brian Orakpo. Landry, who tallied 16.5 sacks in 2016, wants to show explosiveness and playmaking ability early. His real test won’t come until he competes against veteran offensive linemen, however.
Can some undrafted free agents earn roster spots?**
Well, some talented players are among the 22 players who signed with the team at the start of camp. Iowa running back Akrum Wadley and Southern California receiver Deontay Burnett had especially productive collegiate careers, and they arrive at positions where spots can be had. Others will also contend, from Duke defensive tackle Mike Ramsey to Tennessee tight end Ethan Wolf to Temple outside linebacker Sharif Finch. Keep an eye on Ohio State safety Damon Webb as well. He’ll compete at a position with some room.
What’s the plan with quarterback Luke Falk?**
The Titans didn’t bring Falk on board to compete with Marcus Mariota for a starting spot. And as a rookie, he’ll have a tough time unseating veteran Blaine Gabbert for the No.2 spot. Gabbert has a strong arm, and experience. But Falk has a chance to convince the team he’s worth a spot on the 53-man roster, and in time prove he’s a long-term option as Mariota’s back-up. I know I’m anxious to see him sling it.
Are some veterans on the spot with the arrival of the new guys?**
Yes, but that’s the case every year. In the NFL, veterans are always on edge, and motivated to hold on to roster spots. Some are on the spot more than others, of course. I mentioned Compton earlier. He’ll work to stay ahead of Evans. At OLB, Kevin Dodd is going to need to perform to earn snaps with Landry on board. At RB, David Fluellen will be challenged by Wadley. Burnett could convince the team to keep an extra receiver, or he could challenge returners for a spot on the back end. Across the board some veterans will be fighting for roster spots – and snaps – with the new guys now in the building.
The Titans select Boston College LB Harold Landry in second round (#41st overall) of 2018 NFL Draft. (AP Photos)