Is This The Titans' 2021 First-Round Pick?

SI.com's Kevin Hanson predicts Tennessee will target a tight end early in next year's selection process
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Trying to figure out where any team will pick in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft is next to impossible.

Trying to figure out what a team will need in that draft is not nearly as difficult. Particularly when it comes to the Tennessee Titans.

SI.com’s Kevin Hanson released his Way-Too-Early 2021 NFL Mock Draft on Monday and predicted the Titans would take Penn State tight end Pat Friermuth with the No. 19 overall selection.

His projected draft order means he sees the Titans as the final team to make the playoffs, which have been expanded to include 14 teams beginning in 2020. Whether or not that is a fair assessment of their prospects for the coming campaign given that they reached the AFC Championship game last season is plenty debatable.

At this point, though, there is no question that Tennessee will need to add a tight end – or more – prior to 2021. The current roster includes only three veterans at that position – Jonnu Smith, MyCole Pruitt, and Anthony Firkser – and none are signed beyond 2020. Cole Herdman, who has no regular-season experience, also was added this offseason on a two-year contract.

Friermuth is a two-year starter for Penn State who will be a true junior this fall. At 6-foot-5, 259 pounds, he is a well-rounded tight end who is capable as a blocker and proficient in the passing game. He was the Nittany Lions’ second-leading receiver each of the last two years and his 15 touchdown receptions (eight in 2018, seven in 2019) already rank ninth in program history and equal the most by a tight end. He was a team captain as a sophomore.

Says Hanson, in part: “Along with Brevin Jordan [Miami] and Kyle Pitts [Florida], Freiermuth is one of a few tight ends that could be first-rounders next April. Among those three tight ends, Freiermuth might make the most sense for the run-first Titans, given his in-line experience and ability as a blocker.”

Whether the Titans actually will be in a position to select him remains to be seen.