NASHVILLE — The Tennessee Titans worked to protect their quarterback Thursday night by taking Northwestern offensive tackle Peter Skoronski at No. 11 overall in the NFL draft.
It’s not the quarterback many expected from new general manager Ran Carthon in his first draft. Ryan Tannehill turns 35 in July and has one year left on his contract with a salary cap hit of $36.6 million.
But the Titans gave up 49 sacks last season on a patchwork line because of injuries. That’s why they cut three-time Pro Bowl left tackle Taylor Lewan and veteran center Ben Jones to create salary cap space. They also let right guard Nate Davis leave in free agency for Chicago.
The Titans’ offense came in as the biggest need after scoring just 298 points last season. Only four NFL teams averaged fewer points than the Titans, who managed 17.5 points a game despite Derrick Henry finishing as the league’s second-best rusher with 1,538 yards.
The 6-foot-4, 313-pound Skoronski, the third offensive lineman off the board Thursday night, has 10-inch hands. He also earned all-Big Ten honors three straight years at Northwestern and was selected as the league’s top lineman last season.
The NFL runs deep in his family tree. His grandfather, Bob, was offensive captain of Vince Lombardi’s five NFL championship teams.
The Titans needed more offensive line help to make up for the draft misses of former general manager Jon Robinson, who was fired on Dec. 6. He used the 29th pick overall in 2020 on Isaiah Wilson of Georgia, who placed on a reserve list in December of his rookie season before being traded weeks later.
Dillon Radunz was the 53rd overall pick in 2021 out of North Dakota State on the FCS level. He couldn’t beat out rookie Nicholas Petit-Frere, a third-round pick last year out of Ohio State, for the right tackle job and wound up a reserve in his second season.
Carthon already signed Andre Dillard and Daniel Brunskill in free agency to bolster the offensive line.
Their biggest needs remain wide receiver and tight end despite adding receiver Treylon Burks at 18 overall last year as part of the trade that sent Pro Bowler A.J. Brown to Philadelphia during the opening night of the 2022 draft.