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Titans expect Peter Skoronski to help fix one big issue

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – So there is your No. 1 question during Titans' training camp.

Who’s the left tackle and who’s the left guard? Who’s the left guard and who’s the left tackle?

Peter Skoronski
Peter Skoronski/ Courtesy Northwestern Athletics

The Titans signed Andre Dillard, a former Philadelphia Eagles No. 1 pick, in free agency. Dillard said the team told him it was looking for fast, athletic linemen who could work in space. Now, they’ve drafted Northwestern’s Peter Skoronski at No. 11 in the first round.

The two will sort things out in training camp. 

It’s not a thrilling first-round scenario when the Texans added C.J. Stroud and Will Anderson in back-to-back picks at No. 2 and No. 3, captain-caliber guys on both sides of the ball and the Colts got a new quarterback at No. 4 in Anthony Richardson, a player who only started 13 college games.

Tennessee passed on the fourth quarterback, Will Levis who went undrafted in the first round, to address pass protection and run blocking. 

Mike Vrabel said he was not thinking about the divisional additions of the two teams his club finished ahead of in the AFC South last year, just about his team getting better.

But no matter how a rebuilt offensive line fares and what weaponry comes in the rest of the draft, this should be a defensive football team. In the rookie season for Stroud and Richardson, Vrabel’s got to think his personnel and scheme will still have an advantage.

Will Levis
Will Levis/ Courtesy Kentucky Athletics

And while Levis is still on the board and Hendon Hooker looms as a possibility, the odds are the highest yet that Vrabel’s heavily adjusted offensive staff will be working with Ryan Tannehill, who will be the beneficiary of the improved protection Skoronski can help provide.

As of now, the Titans will have new starters at four offensive line positions and three new players on the line: Skoronski, Dillard and another free agent, right guard Daniel Brunskill.

A once mighty unit that helped plow the way for 2,027 yards for Derrick Henry and allowed just 24 sacks of Tannehill has tumbled badly. It allowed 47 sacks in 2021 and 49 last year.

“We’re getting a fantastic player, a physical player, a violent player, he’s got versatility,” Vrabel said. “Those are things that we covet with the durability. I know when he grabs people, most of the time they stop moving. So that’s really a good thing for an offensive lineman.”

The biggest knock on Skoronski is his arm length. Most offensive linemen with arms shorter than 33 inches wind up on the interior, and Skoronski’s measure at 32¼. 

But all 33 of his games, all starts, for the Wildcats came at left tackle where he replaced Rashawn Slater, the 13th pick of the 2021 draft by the Chargers. Skoronski is 6-foot-4, 313 pounds and came into the draft regarded as its most technically sound lineman.

Vrabel gave a detailed answer about how the 21-year old has not allowed shorter arms to be an issue.

Skoronski said the arms “issue” has been omnipresent throughout the draft process.

“There is so much more that goes into a pass block or a run block than just arms,” he said from the suburban Chicago pizza joint where he took in the draft with family and friends. “There are things I can do to fix technically with my hands, things I can work on to alleviate that. There is so much more in terms of foot placement, hand usage that I can definitely use to overcome that arm-length deal.”

The team has now spent five of its last 14 picks in the first, second and third rounds on offensive linemen: Nate Davis (82nd, 2019), Isaiah Wilson (No. 26, 2020), Dillon Radunz (53rd, 2021), Nicholas Petit-Frere (69th, 2022) and Skoronski.

Only three are in line to be on the team and Radunz, a backup most of 2022, suffered a late-season torn ACL last year.

Carthon said the Titans were targeting Skoronski from the start but thought he would go a bit higher. Rare is the GM who does not say the first-round pick was the desired prize all along.

The Titans are scheduled to draft 41st, the 10th pick of the second round Friday night. They still have a Kuharsky megaphonegiant hole at wide receiver opposite Treylon Burks, last year’s first-round pick. They will also draft 72nd in the third round, barring a trade.

But they move forward feeling as if one of their biggest issues is addressed.

“We've said since the end of the season, during the season, multiple times, numerous times, we have to do a better job protecting our quarterback,” Vrabel said. “We have set out to do that, not only by improvement, but in the off-season and some of the free agent acquisitions, but also tonight.

"And you have to be able to do that. And this isn't just a pass protector. This is an all-around very, very good football player, very good offensive lineman.”

***

Blake Beddingfield's pre-draft scouting report:

Peter Skoronski, Northwestern, 6’4 313, LT: First round

Three-year starter. An average-sized player with below-average length in his arms (32¼). A solid player, but not an elite athlete. Has good body control, plays with very good hand use, good technique and very good awareness and instincts. Will be a solid player in the NFL. Limited ceiling, but also a high floor. Will be a solid contributor in Year One. For the Titans he can line up right away at left tackle and kick Andre Dillard in to left guard and round out a solid offensive line rebuild for Tennessee. The fall back for Skoronski is to play guard and he should excel in that role. Similar in size to Jonah Williams and Zach Martin coming out of college. Williams did not have success at left tackle and Martin was immediately played inside at guard in the NFL and has had great production during his career.

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