Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel has traditionally been a man of few words when asked about 2021 second-round pick Dillon Radunz.
Offensive coordinator Todd Downing has followed suit, usually defaulting to highlighting the 24-year-old’s versatility to play any spot along the offensive line.
But as the team gets into the thick of OTAs, pieces of the Radunz puzzle have begun to fall into place. And Vrabel, albeit briefly, offered a tiny shred of insight as to where Tennessee sees Radunz’s long-term future.
“He’s been working predominantly at right tackle,” Vrabel said. “We’ll kick [him] there inside based on the rotation that [offensive line coach] Keith [Carter] wants, or who he wants to look at. I don’t think that right now is really the time [to tie Radunz to one position].”
As he heads into his second season, a lot of eyes are on Radunz — the man who can play every position but can’t seem to lock one down. Having taken Radunz with the 53rd overall selection in 2021, the Titans picked had an eye toward transitioning him to take over at right tackle — a spot that has seen Isaiah Wilson, Dennis Kelly, Ty Sambrailo, Kendall Lamm and David Quessenberry come and go with little to no contributions made by any of them.
Radunz came to Tennessee behind the curve, so to speak, having played just 215 true passing downs over 33 games in three years at North Dakota State. He competed in just one game during the 2020 season, and when the Titans drafted him, he hadn’t played a down of football in over a year.
Playing only 22 offensive snaps through the first 15 weeks of last season, Radunz finished his rookie year with just 124 offensive snaps — the bulk coming in Week 16 against the 49ers at Nissan Stadium. He also allowed two sacks.
“We didn’t have an opportunity to see him grow [during his rookie year],” Vrabel said. “I think his conditioning level is really good and I think that he’s recognized that that can be a huge advantage for him over the course of 65 or 70 snaps. You’re going to lose a couple matchups, that’s the nature of this business, and that’s why it’s great.
“So, I think he’s going to take care of his conditioning, and that that’s one area where he can consider it a strength and continue to develop the other skills needed to play offensive line.”
Despite Downing’s reluctance to pigeon-hole Radunz, right tackle seems like the best fit as tackle is his natural position. The benefits of him getting a year of starting experience under his belt can’t be understated as the Titans could realistically be in the market for a new starting left tackle in 2023 with Taylor Lewan and his $14.8 million cap hit a prime candidate to be a salary cap cut.
While it’s tough to quantify exactly how Radunz has been performing during OTAs, it seems he will get first crack at the starting job on the right side.
“It’s hard to evaluate offensive and defensive linemen without pads on,” Vrabel added. “We’re running these plays in a jog through to install and gets guys to know what to do. Evaluation for offensive and defensive linemen isn’t something that’s going to happen before June 13. We’ll identify guys that we think have potential to help us.”
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