Too Early to Write Off Nicholas Petit-Frere as Titans' Right Tackle

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – We’ve said all along the Titans had too many holes to fill with one free-agency period and one draft.

There will be spots where the team isn’t as talented as it would like to be. Even if the Titans can find a free-agent tackle, right tackle will be one of those spots.

Nicholas Petit-Frere
Nicholas Petit-Frere/ Courtesy Tennessee Titans

The free-agent list at this point is poor. Available guys are predominantly old or coming off injury. James Hurst, who played the most among these free-agent tackles, retired. Charles Leno is coming off serious hip surgery and may not play again. Andrus Peat, being touted by some, played a nice season at left tackle for the Saints last year but isn’t listed here because he built his career as a left guard.

Source: OverTheCap

The odds are pretty good that the Titans will have a three-way battle among Nicholas Petit-Frere, Jaelyn Duncan and Leroy Watson for the spot, just as they are likely to have a three-way fight at right guard between Daniel Brunskill, Dillon Radunz and Saahdiq Charles. 

You’d love to know your front liners in May. But it’s been too long since the Titans had true camp battles for starting spots, and such camp competitions can be healthy.

Petit-Frere’s 2023 season was a disaster, with a four-game suspension for a gambling violation to start, poor play in three games after his return, and then a season-ending shoulder injury. He played 62 snaps at left tackle, where he had not worked at all as a rookie in 2022, and 53 snaps at right tackle. As a rookie, he started 16 games and played 937 snaps at right tackle. He was a better run blocker than pass-protector, and seemed like he could turn into a long-term starter.

I think it’s a mistake to dismiss him given that last year was a wash and that he’s got a fresh new start with a much higher-level position coach.

We knew Duncan would be raw as a sixth-rounder out of Maryland last season. He got 10 games and five starts worth of experience. And Leroy Watson had been with the Patriots and 49ers before he played in seven games with the Browns under Bill Callahan last year. Callahan thought he was worth a seventh-round pick and the Titans traded for him.

Suppose we’re giving Bill Callahan the benefit of the doubt as a major upgrade over Jason Houghtaling as the Titans' offensive line coach, and we absolutely should. In that case, we should feel good about his chances to flip JC Latham from the right tackle he was at Alabama to the left tackle the Titans need him to be. 

We should also feel good about his chances to get NPF, who was the 69th pick in the 2022 draft without any uproar, back into form to be a serviceable-plus right tackle or to get Duncan or Watson into a very good place if they can overtake him.

Same at right guard where I feel there is less of a frontrunner as incumbent Brunskill and former tackle Radunz give up about 20 pounds to Charles. 

There are many wait-and-see questions with this team.

Right tackle and right guard are two of them. Bill Callahan surely has some feelings about what will unfold there. He’s also got a long time before he can see his candidates in pads, and that’s when things will really sort themselves out.

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