As the Titans get set for what should be an odd 2020 season, there’s one player on their roster that could be due for a big season, that being tight end Jonnu Smith.
NFL.com today has a piece out with breakout stars from around the NFL, and Smith. is right at the top of the list.
Here’s what Michael Silver had to say about the tight end.
Last season on Dec. 15, I returned to my seat in the front row of the Nissan Field press box after an end-of-the-third-quarter coffee break, eager for some action. Two playoff-bound teams, the Houston Texans and Tennessee Titans, were waging a tight, relatively unremarkable battle for AFC South supremacy, and the caffeine infusion seemed exceedingly necessary.
Trailing 14-7 with the ball at their own 27-yard line, the Titans called a run-of-the-mill toss to running back Derrick Henry, who expertly sashayed through a series of small openings and raced to the right sideline. Except — as I finally noticed about 20 yards in, with the action unfolding right in front of my vantage point — it wasn’t Derrick Henry.
Rather, the ball-carrier was a guy wearing No. 81 who looked like Henry, ran like Henry and, as he pulled into the secondary, seemed like he might be even faster than Henry.
The man who’d taken the pitch from Ryan Tannehill and rambled 57 yards before being dragged down from behind by Texans safety Justin Reid was, in fact, tight end Jonnu Smith. I sat there with my mouth open, watching the replay over and over. By game’s end, Smith had caught five passes for 60 yards, blocked his face off and basically convinced me he’s the Next Big Thing.
The Titans selected Smith, a former Florida International standout, in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft. He has steadily increased his production and, by all rights, 2020 will be the season he breaks out and becomes a bona fide star.
My reasoning: He’s too good not to. The 6-3, 248-pounder has incredible speed and athleticism for his size, and the Titans are a team still searching for consistent weapons in the passing game. Wideout A.J. Brown had a promising rookie season in 2019 and should continue to improve, but if I’m Tannehill, I’m looking for No. 81 early and often this year.
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