Austin Hopper is critical to the Tennessee Titans’ offensive line

The Tennessee Titans signed a 27-year-old traffic guard who had already gone to the Pro Bowl twice, and they did so with a contract well below market value.

Although Titans fans are already beginning to appreciate Jon Robinson’s signing of Austin Hooper, it’s hard to realize just how important the move is to the attack.

Part of that is because Robinson wasn’t afraid to go into free agency, and most people in the national media lose momentum/interest in free agency after the first 48 hours are over and huge contracts are signed.

Although the Tennessee Titans desperately needed help at the receiver and tight end, the team didn’t sign a major signature on Day One…or Day Two…or Day Three, until they finally made two big moves on Days 4 and 6 of the agency free.

First, the team signed Hopper, then they traded the pick for receiver Robert Woods, both of whom were OTA and junior camp takers.

Woods will play a huge role this year including potentially being WR1 until Treylon Burks is ready to take the role from him.

Without trying to downplay the impact that Bobby Teresa would have on this offense, it became very clear that Hopper would have more influence than anyone outside of Derek Henry and Ryan Tanehill.

What the Titans of Tennessee will ask Austin Hopper to do

The tight ends make the Pro Bowl for one reason only, and that is to catch the ball.

Like it or not, letting fans vote in the Pro Bowl results in fans voting for everyone on their favorite team or the players they own in fantasy football leagues. It’s rarely about the best players in the NFL, and you can see that based on how many Indianapolis Colts players have made it to the Pro Bowl even though the Colts have been an example of mediocre walking over the past few seasons.

For Austin Hopper, his consecutive years in the Pro Bowl came in seasons in which the Atlanta Falcons allowed him to be a weapon in the action-packed passing game, resulting in him being an eventual Top 7 player.

This is great and the Tennessee Titans would be smart to use Hooper as a weapon in a scrolling game, but that’s only one thing they will do to attack.

He will help Ryan Tanehill by being an easy target in a passing game, he will help other tight ends by allowing them to take on smaller roles where they can succeed more easily, Derek Henry will help by being an amazing running blocker, but the biggest impact will be how much he helps Dillon Radunz On adjusting to being an NFL player.

Taylor Liwan will be back at 100% this season, Ben Jones will be solid as always, and Nate Davis looks like he’s in great shape and ready to get back to playing at a high level this year. There are many reasons to be optimistic about players returning on this streak, but the two question marks are Jamarco Jones (who is supposed to start in the left guard) and Dillon Radunz.

The good news is that both Jones and Radeons should help out on either side, which should take a lot of guesswork out of the game for them both. Jones will have Lewan on his left and Ben Jones on his right, and on most offensive shots, Radones will have Davis on his left and Hopper on his right.

How do we know Hopper will essentially line up with Radunz? All you have to do is go back to the last time the Tennessee Titans developed a young offensive tackle in 2016 with Jack Conklin.

While Conklin was growing into the triple All-Pro he would become, the Titans put him next to Delanie Walker early and often. In Conklin’s junior year, Walker spent 53% of his inline shots on the right-hand side and 67% of his shots in the slot on the right-hand side.

Not enough to tell the defense if it’s going to be a run or a pass, but enough to make sure he’s got help when he needs it.

In 2022, it’s hard to imagine the Titans straying so far from the plan that was so successful just a few years ago, especially since Hopper is a shrewd veteran of selling bans on play plays and opening up.

Since the Tennessee Titans’ wide receivers lack a clear WR2 at this point, a lot will fall on the shoulders of an exceptionally talented narrow end group. Hopper is at the height of his career and can do whatever he needs to in the running game and in the passing game is one of the rare players who will be able to fill a baseline while also helping out in ways that aren’t immediately obvious.

If I was the Titans, I’d make sure I was in constant contact with his agent to make sure they were in the same field for future negotiations because he’s one of a handful of free agents that Tennessee should plan to re-sign after this season.

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