Tennessee Titans NFL Draft Picks & Grades 2022: Can Treylon Burks Replace A.J. Brown’s Production in the Offense?
The Titans have had a very interesting offseason that included moving on from star wide receiver A.J. Brown despite head coach Mike Vrabel insisting that it would never happen. Nonetheless, Tennessee will be transitioning on offense and hoping rookie Treylon Burks can replicate Brown’s production. This article will include a full recap of the Titans’ draft class with grades and analysis for each of Tennessee’s picks in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Tennessee Titans Draft Picks 2022
Round 1 No. 18 WR Treylon Burks
Round 2 No. 35 CB Roger McCreary
Round 3 No. 69 OT Nicholas Petit-Frere
Round 3 No. 86 QB Malik Willis
Round 4 No. 131 RB Hassan Haskins
Round 4 No. 143 TE Chigozeim Okonkwo
Round 5 No. 163 WR Kyle Philips
Round 6 No. 204 CB Theo Jackson
Round 6 No. 219 LB Chance Campbell
Overall Draft Grade: C+
The 2022 NFL Draft for the Titans will always be remembered as the day they traded A.J. Brown. Like it or not, Treylon Burks will be linked to the star receiver for the remainder of his career. The trade came seemingly from out of nowhere, even to Brown, who reportedly didn’t expect to be traded until soon before it became official. With only $3.4 million in available cap room slated for 2023, extending Brown would require some significant salary-cap gymnastics, and some bad money on the books made Brown’s future in Tennessee untenable.
Outside of a questionable trade away of A.J. Brown, the Titans did a solid job of adding talent in this draft. However, this team was the No. 1 seed in the AFC last year, and this was the draft of a rebuilding team. Spending a third-round pick on a developmental offensive tackle, a fourth-round pick on a backup running back, and a fifth-round pick on yet another slot receiver creates more issues. Still, with the smart upside swing on Malik Willis and the ideal fit of Roger McCreary, it’s hard to give this draft anything less than a C+.
This was Mike Vrabel’s reaction to the AJ Brown trade 💀 pic.twitter.com/CYOOwcdcJt
— PFF Fantasy & Betting (@PFF_Fantasy) April 29, 2022
Tennessee Titans Draft Grades 2022
Round: 1 Pick: 18 / Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas
I broke down the A.J. Brown trade in the analysis above, and that obviously factors into the grade for this pick, but I’ll focus on the prospect of Treylon Burks in the Tennessee offense here. Burks has a rare blend of size, speed, and power and is a bully after the catch, so the comparisons to Brown were frequent even before Burks was drafted to replace the former Titan. The comparisons carry some validity as Brown was a slot-dominant player in college like Burks was at Arkansas, but Brown is simply a much better athlete with an 8.60 Relative Athletic Score compared to 5.83 for Burks.
Once he reached the NFL, Brown quickly learned to beat press coverage and became one of the league’s pre-eminent deep threats with polished route-running. Burks is far from that level right now, and while he will be an intriguing fit for Tennessee’s play-action heavy offense, he has a lot of work to do before contributing to the level Brown did for the Titans. Tennessee is in a win-now mode with the contracts they have doled out to players like Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry, and their questionable cap management forced them to trade Brown. That factors into the grade here, even though Burks landed in an ideal spot.
Round: 2 Pick: 35 / Roger McCreary, CB, Auburn
Once considered a fringe first-round pick, Roger McCreary likely fell to the second round primarily due to his 28 7/8” arms and 70 5/8” wingspan that both ranked below the 1st percentile. Those measurables matter for a cornerback when he’s covering some of the big-bodied, physically imposing receivers in the NFL. However, McCreary is a battle-tested cornerback, with only 34 receptions allowed on 75 targets in the SEC last season. He also allowed just a 57.8 passer rating in coverage last year per PFF. McCreary has spent most of his career as an outside cornerback, but he’ll likely be asked to move to the slot due to his lack of length. However, he should do well there with his consistent technique and fluid movement. I would have preferred Jalen Pitre for that role, which is why I’m holding this grade back a bit. Still, with McCreary joining Caleb Farley and Kristian Fulton, the Titans are building a solid nucleus of young talent at cornerback.
— Tennessee Titans (@Titans) May 7, 2022
Round: 3 Pick: 69 / Nicholas Petit-Frere, OT, Ohio State
A former five-star recruit, Nicholas Petit-Frere had some solid games at Ohio State but was torched by higher-level competition. Fourteen of his 26 allowed pressures last season came against Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo and Penn State’s Arnold Ebiketie. Those games produced some highly concerning film for him as he’ll be facing that caliber of opponent quite frequently in the NFL. In five of his 12 starts in 2021, he didn’t allow a single pressure per PFF, but his pass-protection technique is far too inconsistent. 2021 second-round pick Dillon Radunz will likely get the first shot at right tackle this year, but he’s also a candidate to kick inside, and Petit-Frere could get starting reps as soon as this season with the Titans’ offseason losses along the offensive line. Whether he’s ready for that opportunity is another question entirely.
Aidan Hutchinson has beaten Nicholas Petit-Frere like a drum today. Uses the quick hand swipe and the outside swim to get home here.
Three sacks. He’s an X-factor.
— PFN Draft (@PFNDraft) November 27, 2021
Round: 3 Pick: 86 / Malik Willis, QB, Liberty
Once considered a potential top-ten pick, the slide of Malik Willis to the third round was one of the most surprising aspects of the 2022 NFL Draft. However, the Titans were able to take advantage and take a swing on a high-upside quarterback with all of the tools in the world. Ryan Tannehill has two more seasons under contract, so Willis has plenty of time to develop, making this an ideal situation. Willis moves like a running back in the open field with his ability to make defenders miss, and his mobility will be a huge part of his game in the NFL. He also has a cannon for an arm with an 11% big-time throw rate charted by PFF, which was their second-highest of all time. The rest needs a lot of work. Willis struggles to get past his first read and gives up on the pocket way too early, and NFL defenses will exploit that. His inability to handle pressure will also hold him back. However, the traits are highly enticing, and this is the right time in the draft to take a chance on his upside.
Before I delete all the @MalikWillis Videos I accumulated over the last week, here’s a video compilation of some of my favorite @LibertyFootball plays that I couldn’t fit in my article#Titans pic.twitter.com/wSTeth5dty
— Shaun Calderon (@ShaunMichaels31) May 8, 2022
Round: 4 Pick: 131 / Hassan Haskins, RB, Michigan
After Derrick Henry’s injury last season, the Titans got solid production from D’Onta Foreman, but Foreman signed with the Panthers in free agency. Hassan Haskins fits a similar mold to those players as a 6’2”, 228-pound beast who threw up 27 reps on the bench press at the combine. His one season as a lead back in 2021 produced great results with 270 carries for 1,327 yards and 20 touchdowns. However, his pass-catching was minimal in college, and his pass-protection technique needs refining. Still, Haskins would be very capable in the event of another injury to Derrick Henry this season. As much as I loved Haskins as a Michigan fan, though, I have to give this pick a deflated grade, as spending a fourth-round selection on a backup running back simply isn’t the best allocation of resources.
Michigan RB Hassan Haskins with a ridiculous 27 bench-press reps at the NFL Combine pic.twitter.com/749qladL89
— Clayton Sayfie (@CSayf23) March 4, 2022
Round: 4 Pick: 143 / Chigoziem Okonkwo, TE, Maryland
It’s funny that the Titans landed Chigoziem Okonkwo as my favorite comp for him, and one of my favorite comps in the pre-draft process was Jonnu Smith, the former Titans tight end. Like Smith, Okonkwo is an undersized tight end at 6’2”, 238 pounds, but he makes up for it with impressive athleticism – his 4.52-second 40-yard dash was in the 94th percentile for the position per MockDraftable. Okonkwo won’t be an elite blocker, at least right away, due to his lack of length and strength, but his explosive YAC ability will fill a similar role for the Titans that Smith did. Okonkwo broke 14 tackles on 76 catches in his career per PFF. The prior Myocarditis issue that caused him to miss the 2020 season is concerning, but assuming the medicals check out, Okonkwo can fill a role in the Titans’ offense as soon as this season.
I'm not sure if anyone has made the Chig Okonkwo and Delanie Walker connection but their testing numbers were eerily similar… obviously best case scenario for Chig but the comparisons to Walker and Jonnu Smith are very interesting #Titans pic.twitter.com/oG0WK42Iad
— Jacob Wayne (@wayne_sports_) May 12, 2022
Round: 5 Pick: 163 / Kyle Philips, WR, UCLA
In 2021, Kyle Philips lined up in the slot on 92.9% of his snaps. With Treylon Burks against press coverage still a question mark, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him line up in the slot somewhere close to his 67.7% rate from last season. Robert Woods has also been a slot-dominant player throughout his career. Unfortunately, the fit is so clunky here because I like Philips as a prospect. One of the biggest winners of the Shrine Bowl, Philips is technically refined in everything from footwork to route-running to football IQ. While not a speedster, he was excellent in punt return duty for UCLA and could fill a similar role for the Titans. However, this grade is lower than it would have been due to questions about the fit in the Tennessee offense.
Round: 6 Pick: 204 / Theo Jackson, CB, Tennessee
Jon Robinson has a consistent strategy of drafting high-level athletes at defensive back later on Day 3 who can be consistent special teams producers and develop into starters on defense over time. Theo Jackson is the next such player, and there are some intriguing attributes with a 4.46-second 40-yard dash and a 37-inch vertical jump. Jackson parlayed a big senior season into an All-SEC second-team nod, although he wasn’t invited to the combine and wasn’t on many draft boards. Still, he performed well at the Tennessee Pro Day and flashed the ability to fill several roles in the secondary at Tennessee. The hometown kid could get a real chance to contribute this season.
— Tennessee Titans (@Titans) May 11, 2022
Round: 6 Pick: 219 / Chance Campbell, LB, Mississippi
Chance Campbell ranked top five in the SEC in 2021 in total tackles thanks to his instincts and 4.57-second 40 speed. The most concerning aspect of Campbell’s profile is his 74 1/8” wingspan which becomes a significant problem when he is asked to shed blocks in the run game, particularly with him already being undersized at just 232 lbs. Campbell is otherwise an impressive athlete with the physicality to contribute on special teams, but the lack of length will always be detrimental to his potential upside.
Chance Campbell seems kinda good pic.twitter.com/43R8l0bziC
— No Flags Film (@NoFlagsFilm) May 3, 2022