NASHVILLE – The NFL Draft is now in the rear-view mirror, and now the countdown is on to OTAs, minicamps, and training camp.
And, of course, the preseason, and then the regular season.
First, the Titans will welcome the rookies to town for a minicamp next weekend.
But even before that, this weekend’s mailbag…
Dan Baird from Nashville, Tennessee
Question: Jim, thanks for fielding questions from the peanut gallery, some more intelligent than others...
My question is, why are the non-drafted free agents not listed on the site as they filter in? There’s always a few guys that at least make the practice squad and a few that have a real shot at the 53-man roster. Although less likely to stick with the team, it’d be nice to know from this source than an outside search. Every year it’s the same lag time behind “other” sites. I know it’s not splashy, but your real hard-cores do want to know.
Jim: Hey Dan. They're not listed because they haven't signed. Believe me, I’m champing at the bit to post them. The reason why you haven’t seen a list from the team is because the bosses want the players to pass a physical and sign before putting out a list. What you’ve seen so far is an accumulated list of players and agents saying they’re signing, but it’s not official. And I bet some of the guys you’ve seen on some of the UDFA lists are actually guys coming to town for a tryout. It happens every year. Expect to see the official list either on May 9 or 10, at the start of the three-day rookie camp.
Matt Horrocks from Rocklin, California
Jim: Hey Jim. Thanks for dedicating so much time to answering our questions each week. I've heard a lot of talk this off season about the Titans receivers, but one name I never seem to hear is Darius Jennings. I find this odd since Jennings had one of the best statistical kick returning seasons in NFL history last year. Do you expect Jennings to return as the kick returner in 2019, meaning the Titans carry 6 receivers? If it's not Jennings, who do you think is back to return kicks this year? Dion Lewis was a good returner in New England, and even though Adoree' Jackson had some struggles in the punt game last year he also has experience with kickoffs from college and his rookie year. I've also heard some fans throw around Taywan Taylor as a potential kick returner. So who do you think is back deep when we head to Cleveland?
Jim: Appreciate it Matt. Well, Darius is an underdog, something he embraces. With the addition of Adam Humphries and A.J. Brown, you can get to five receivers pretty quickly when you include Corey Davis, Taywan Taylor and Tajae Sharpe. Darius fought his way onto the roster in 2018, and he excelled as a returner as you mentioned. He has great value there after averaging 31.7 yards a kick return. Right now, I say he’s the best option at kick returner. But others will be given a shot. Too early for me to predict. I need to see some practices first, and see who is actually in the competition.
David Stalder from Albuquerque, New Mexico
Question: Hi Jim. As a fan, you develop a personal history with the players around the league, those you love, those you hate...and in this case those you detest. First game of the season the Titans go into Cleveland and face a revamped and scary defense, which now includes Olivier Vernon. You might remember who he is; he's the one who ended Marcus's 2016? season with a questionable hit. I realize I can't say anything inflammatory about a confirmable dirty player, that unsubstantiated accusations about a player's proclivity for low hits will get me shut down, but I have to say that Vernon, in my mind, represents the most venal of players that I've ever seen. Aside from, say, Suh, who else has had to spend time in front of the media defending the honor of their play? Fire? Smoke? Who knows, but either way, I'll be nervous when MM8 takes the field that day, if for no other reason than that there's true, unrepentant malice somewhere across the line of scrimmage, salivating over his knees.
Jim: Hey David. I remember the hit, but that was 2015, and it wasn’t a season-ending injury. Was it a questionable, borderline dirty hit? Yes. What the Titans have to do is a better job of keeping defenders around Mariota, which hasn’t been easy of late….
Jacob McCluskey from Huntsville, Alabama
Question: How's it going Jim? What an exciting weekend for the city of Nashville!!! My question to you is on 5th round draft pick D'Andre Walker. Very talented player, who I am shocked fell to us in the 5th round. Do you envision D'Andre being a day one starter? I know there's a lot of competition in the EDGE room, and playing time will have to be earned. He just seems to have the it factor to contribute on a consistent level. One more thing, when do you believe new numbers will be issued out to our draft picks? TITAN UP!!!
Jim: Hey Jacob. All is good, thanks. I envision Walker making a difference, but I can’t project him as a starter without even seeing him in rookie camp. And I can’t project him as a starter with the guys in front of him, from Cameron Wake to Harold Landry to Kamalei Correa to Sharif Finch. He’ll have to earn his snaps, and playing time. As for new numbers, my thinking is probably within a week.
Ryan Estep from Elgin, Tennessee
Question: The draft was an amazing once in a lifetime experience. Worth every penny to fly out for SC for the week! They did a great job of separating the experience and the draft itself so you could do and see everything! Question is was this enough to bring it back? And how long do you think we will have to wait? Personally I think the NFL draft just found it's new permanent home.
Jim: Hey Ryan. No doubt in my mind it will be back, it’s just a matter of when.
Iain Sneddon from London, Ontario
Question: Hi Jim. I have been a Titans/Oilers fan since Warren Moon became the quarterback. As a Canadian and a Hamilton Tigercat fan, I was glad to see Moon and the 5 Grey Cups he won with Edmonton move south of the border. I love the draft picks so far. I still believe Sharpe and Taylor have talent but is hard to argue with selecting Brown. I get the sense that Vrabel and JRob are acting in concert and on the same page. What are your thoughts on their level of cooperation?
Jim: Hey Iain. I think they have a really healthy GM/HC relationship. This is what Vrabel said on the subject leading up to the draft, and I think it sums it up well: “The idea is that we’re just trying to see it through the same set of eyes, and have the same vision for the player and where we see them,” Vrabel said. “I think that at the end it's crucial that we do what's best for the Titans, and I don't think it's always important that we see eye-to-eye, when we see a player, or a play or a situation. That's why we have conversations or we have discussions. That's the most important thing, that we have honest dialogue. We do agree on a lot of things, but there are things we don't agree on. So we look at the tape and try to figure out what's best for the Titans and come to an agreement that makes us better.”
Brian McKinney from Titusville, Florida
Question: Now that the Titans draft is complete and their top pick Jeffrey Simmons is starting out on IR (more than likely), wouldn't it be a great idea to sign Ndamukong Suh for a 1-year, 8-10 million dollar deal? Maybe a 2-year deal. Can you imagine these 5 on the line? Landry, Simmons, Suh, Casey, Wake...QBs would be shaking in their boots!
Jim: I’ve heard a lot of folks saying they want Suh, but haven’t heard a lot of internal buzz about this. Not saying it won’t happen. After hosting him on a visit last offseason, the Titans know what they’d be getting. And I talked to Suh at the Super Bowl in February, and it sounded like he enjoyed his visit. He has a comfort level with d-line coach Terrell Williams, and the fact Cameron Wake is now with the Titans probably doesn’t hurt. So we’ll have to see how things play out…
Darris Mays from Lewisville, Tennessee
Jim: Hey Jim! Do you think Jon and Mike saw something different in the first round with Jeffrey Simmons better than any of these guys who can play for us this year: ( 1) Montez Sweat (2) Trysten Hill (3) Zach Allen (4) Dre' Mont Jones ( 5) Jerry Tillery (6) Chase Winovich (7) Jaylon Ferguson (8) L.J. Collier (9) Greedy Williams (10) Johnathan Abram (11) Darnell Savage Jr. (12) Rock Ya- Sin (13) Byron Murphy (14) Cody Barton. Nothing against Jeffrey at all, but he can't help us this year. Your thoughts.
Jim: Hey Darris. This one is easy: Yes.
Blaine Fentress from Elizabethtown, Kentucky
Question: Hello Jim. My question is short: How do we beat Luck? We are not going anywhere until we do.
Jim: Pressure him, make more plays on defense, and score more points on offense. Hey, the guy is not invincible – the Colts lost seven times last season, including a butt-kicking in the playoffs vs. the Chiefs. It can be done – the Titans just have to find a way to do it.
Jeffery Raney from Texarkana, Arkansas
Question: Hi Jim. Has there been any indication that the coaching staff has considered moving Ben Jones to guard and plugging Corey Levin in at center? What is your opinion about a move like that?
Jim: Hey Jeffery. I know Ben is capable. He’s done it before. But I suspect he’ll remain at center, and there will be a competition for the right guard spot with Kevin Pamphile, Corey Levin, Nate Davis, Aaron Stinnie and others. I’ve heard some folks speculate Jack Conklin could compete at guard as well, but the GM has said repeatedly he’s a tackle. During the offseason all of this should come into better focus.
Have a great weekend everyone!