Rexrod: The Titans’ next quarterback is approached, and his identity becomes clear

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NASHVILLE, Tennessee — Titans general manager Run Carthon confirmed one report Monday (yes, the team asked Kevin Byard for a pay cut) and refuted another (no, Byard didn’t ask for a transfer because of it). It’s always refreshing this time of year to see someone put their name and some honesty into things.

Carthon, at a press conference reviewing his first draft as general manager, had more to say—more than is said of most of these things—even though the discoveries were limited to players under contract. He basically killed the idea that Derrick Henry might be transferred. He said Ryan Tannehill “knows where he stands” with the Titans: in the pocket, throwing passes for them, for another season. The less robust market for each of these players and their 2023 salaries has always made their returns safe money.

Dane Brugler’s The Beast, the complete 2023 NFL Draft guide, is now available.

I think one of them will be prepared as a successor to his future duty. It’s time for the Titans to take on quarterback. And though Karthon made sure to avoid dropping hints of that or anything else regarding the draft strategy, the Titans’ actions suggest they’re ready to strike. Their roster status and the AFC’s roster indicate that they should.

Tannehill, Henry, a very good defense, a very questionable receiving room and an offensive line that’s been retooled with largely unproven players are unlikely to do much harm in this conference, draft additions notwithstanding. This group also won’t lose nearly enough in 2023 to be in a prime position for a higher-respected 2024 quarterback crop.

Follow all of The Athletic’s NFL Draft 2023 coverage.

From the 11th pick, the Titans can maneuver — or maybe stick — and swing their latest swings into the quarterback position. The last successful cut fell in 1995 when the late great Floyd Reese selected the late Steve McNair as Alcorn’s third-place selection. Three high first-round misses followed: Vince Young’s third-place finish in 2006, Jake Locker’s eighth-place finish in 2011, and Marcus Mariota’s second-place finish in 2015.

Five draft quarterbacks as prospects on Thursday. I think we can find out about the selection of the Titans through the elimination process. We do not have internal Titans ratings for these players. Despite this, we have relevant information.

Bryce Young will not be from Alabama. The Carolina Panthers are expected to take him first. They have to, because he’s the best recruiting player, and I think they will.

CJ Stroud will not be from Ohio. He’s been a fall guy lately, with reports that the Houston Texans have soured on him and You wouldn’t take it No. 2, and other reports indicating the cause. One was some naivety about not attending Manning Basing Academy. Another had to do with his S2 Cognition test score.

For those who haven’t been paying attention, the S2 test has become a staple of the draft conversation. This was predicted in the 2020 story at the athleteAnd it came true. The Nashville-based company, which was started in 2016 by former Vanderbilt neuroscientists Brandon Alley and Scott Wiley, runs a battery of tests to formulate expectations (and athletes of all ages in a variety of sports) to assess cognitive processing. These tests are especially important in football for quarterbacks and safeties, situations where rapid diagnosis requires a lot of information to perform effectively.

Young, previously reported and confirmed the athlete, scoring at the 98th percentile in the S2 test. This matches the way he played at Alabama. But the Stroud score reported by Bob McGinn in a Story – Quoted from an anonymous league executive – does not match the way he plays Ohio State. This reported score was 18, as ranked Stroud 18th among those who took the tests.

I don’t think that’s his real test score (it’s actually nine different cognitive tests for one score). This does not at all match his performance on the field.

I spoke to Ally on Monday, shortly after he said this about recent reports of his S2 scores on “The Pat McAfee Show”: “What I’m going to say is the list of scores I’ve seen, two of those scores are not accurate; not accurate at all. It might be Some reasoning is for narrative purposes. Other reasons are that they don’t have context. So, someone could have gotten a list of very early results.”

Those scores are the property of NFL teams that have contracts with S2, which is why you haven’t heard anything from Stroud or his agent about the report of 18 on the test. They do not have access to its results. Ally made it clear that he wouldn’t discuss an individual athlete’s score, but most take the test multiple times, and I think Stroud has a much better score to his name. I know the 15 teams that can reach the results of Season 2 know the full story.

One such team is Indianapolis, and the Colts pick the fourth spot. If Stroud falls on them, I can’t see him fall any further. So I rule him out, because I also can’t see the Titans doing whatever it takes to go from No. 11 to No. 3 (a pick owned by Arizona Cardinals and new GM Monty Osenfurt, who recently worked for the Titans) and jump ahead of the Colts.

It makes sense to eliminate the two guys who didn’t come to Nashville for the Titans’ Top 30 visit and are the consensus two best quarterbacks in the draft. The other three candidates — Anthony Richardson of Florida, Will Levis of Kentucky and Hendon Hooker of Tennessee — have done so.

I think Richardson will come off the board a little higher than the Titans can move. He’s the quarterback with the highest cap in this draft, and he’s horribly high.

Hooker, a second-round pick is expected the athlete Draft analyst Dane Brugler is a strong candidate to be drafted late in the first round by a team that wants a fifth-year option. Maybe the Titans can take a step back from #11 and put it somewhere that makes sense.

The bigger question with Hooker, aside from his recovery from a torn ACL, is how his game in Josh Hubbell’s high tempo, spreading offense on the sidelines will translate to the NFL. This offense, pioneered by Art Briles, still has not produced a solid NFL player. This does not mean that she will not.

But listening to Karthon talk on Monday about conversations with backfield players about their university concepts and seeing what translates helps shed light on the answer here. Levis is the man.

He played at Kentucky in the same offense as the modern West Coast Titans and thrived in 2021 under OC Liam Coen, who came from the Los Angeles Rams and then returned to the Rams last season to be offensive coordinator. Levis’ performance suffered, thanks in part to the loss of Quinn, due to a poor offensive line in front of him and multiple injuries.

He has physical features. Received a score of S2, 93, and confirmed it the athleteJoe person. He had Karthon say very little about him when asked on Monday. Things that are said and not said at the same time can be interesting during draft week.

Also, Levis can be available in an area that the Titans would feel better visiting. Brugler said he’s heard from several teams that the Giants have made calls about moving to the No. 2-to-6 range. Detroit picks the sixth, and Lions GM Brad Holmes works with Carthon in the Rams organization.

It all makes a lot of sense. If the Titans like the Levies, if they’re willing to look towards the next era at the hottest spot on the field, if they can make it to the bottom 11 – or if they get lucky and it falls on them there. It’s the right time, it’s the most reasonable in terms of cost and convenience, and Titans fans are ready for a shock of excitement after watching their team’s decline in 2022.

All of which is to say, get ready for (to be named) with Pick #11.

(Photo by Run Karthon: Trevor Roskowski/USA Today)

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