Titans select OT Jack Conklin with No. 8 pick in 2016 NFL draft
The Tennessee Titans traded with the Cleveland Browns for the No. 8 pick in the 2016 NFL draft, and they selected Michigan State offensive tackle Jack Conklin.
This is an amazing get for the Titans and new general manager Jon Robinson. They traded down from the No. 1 pick, got most of the Rams’ next two drafts and picked up the offensive lineman they wanted. Now, the question is whether Conklin stays on the left side—he's a tremendous run-blocker with limited pass-protection ability at this point. Conklin can be an elite blindside tackle in a power system over time, and he could also move inside to guard. He’s probably the most fundamentally sound blocker in this class, so the Titans are winning this draft already. Should Tunsil have been the pick instead? That question docks this pick a letter.
Strengths: Gave up just one sack in 2015. Tough, aggressive, controlled player who blasts out of his stance and does a lot of pure mauling. Will occasionally just throw defenders to either side, including Oregon’s DeForest Bucker and Alabama’s Reggie Ragland. Displays power in two- and three-point stances, and maintains his upright stance even when bulled back. Creates a wide base at the snap and uses leverage very well to physically dominate. Has the upper-body strength and play awareness to strike a first defender and then turn to block a second one. Has a bigger kick-slide than people give him credit for and is able to push and strike through his arc—he’s not just a maintainer. Can flare out in tackle pulls and puts his arms on the target in open space. Mirrors very well through the arc as long as he has his feet under him and isn’t asked to recover quickly.
Excellent blocker in run and run-action: latches on, pushes back, and pinches inside to the defensive tackle with authority. Will rag-doll bigger, taller players at times. Has a longer wingspan than top-ranked tackle Laremy Tunsil (35 inches toTunsil’s 34 1/4) and knows how to use it. Dropped his weight from 320 last season to 307 at the combine to be more agile, and he shouldn’t lose too much power with less weight on him thanks to proper technique.
Weaknesses: Conklin’s raw athleticism is a concern. He isn’t especially agile at the second level, and he does struggle to get up to top speed. Will lunge and stumble when trying to block targets at linebacker depth. Could find it a real problem to re-set and recover against quicker NFL pass rushers with upper-tier hand moves and inside counters. Could have issues with faster twists and stunts in the pros. Occasionally has trouble keeping his shoulders square when kicking back in pass protection.