After being unanimously named to the All-American team in his final season with Northwestern, Peter Skoronski was selected by the Tennessee Titans with the 11th overall pick in the NFL Draft on Thursday night. The Maine South product will head to Nashville and will be expected to be a day one starter for a Titans offensive line in need of help.
Unforgettable.#NFLDraft | #ProCats pic.twitter.com/f6IvBeDH5g— Northwestern Football (@NUFBFamily) April 28, 2023
What Skoronski Brings to the Table
Skoronski, listed at 6-foot-4 and 313 pounds, brings an ideal frame to the tackle or guard position. He is an explosive athlete who tested in the 98th percentile for offensive linemen in the vertical jump and 96th percentile in the broad jump. He is a smooth mover in space and has a powerful anchor to absorb contact from pass rushers. Throughout the draft process, the biggest knock on Skoronski was his 32 1⁄4 inch arms, which many teams deem to be below the requisite arm length for NFL offensive tackles.
At Northwestern, Skoronski started 33 games and was a two-time first-team All-Big Ten member, the 2022 Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year and an All-American, despite Northwestern’s 1-11 record. He made all of his starts at left tackle, replacing NFL Pro Bowler Rashawn Slater after he was drafted to the Los Angeles Chargers.
During his time in Evanston, Skoronski showed off his acumen in pass and run blocking. Skoronski has a quick get-off at the start of the play and displayed above-average abilities to mirror pass rushers and remain calm and balanced. He has a low base and uses his hands to bother edge rushers. In the run game, Skoronski has the strength to stun potential tacklers and has enough speed and hip flexibility to contort his body and get downfield. Additionally, Skoronski’s Northwestern brain is on full display with his fast processing skills and ability to ID stunts and respond accordingly.
Off the field, Skoronski was voted a team captain for the 2022 season. According to Dane Brugler’s draft guide, NFL scouts referred to Skoronski’s work ethic as “elite” and Northwestern coaches raved about his humble demeanor and drive.
Where Skoronski Fits on the Titans
Somewhat surprisingly, Skoronski was the third offensive lineman taken in the draft behind Ohio State tackle Paris Johnson Jr. (Cardinals) and Tennessee tackle Darnell Wright (Bears). The Titans scooped up the blocker who many analysts called one of the safest prospects in the draft, making him general manager Ran Carthon’s first draft pick at the helm of the organization. After the departures of left tackle Taylor Lewan, center Ben Jones and right guard Nate Davis, the Titans offensive line went into the draft looking like one of the weakest units in football. Skoronski will be relied on to help build up the trenches in Tennessee.
The Titans gave former Eagles tackle Andre Dillard a 3-year, $29 million contract in free agency, but Dillard often struggled in Philadelphia. The hefty price tag should not prevent the Titans from attempting to play Skoronski at left tackle, the position he manned for all of college. However, Skoronski’s versatility allows the Titans to play him wherever needed to ensure the five best men are blocking. 2022 third-round pick Nicholas Petit-Frere showed enough flashes during his rookie season to get another stab at right tackle, so Skoronski may initially be asked to play at left guard.
During media availability, GM Ran Carthon and head coach Mike Vrabel praised Skoronski’s versatility, but did not explicitly say where they expect him to line up. I imagine they may use Skoronski similar to the way the Packers have used Elgton Jenkins, who has started games for Green Bay at tackle, guard and center, on both sides of the offensive line to fill holes and injuries.
In a more general sense, Skoronski is a perfect fit for the culture Mike Vrabel has built in Tennessee. Vrabel preaches a tough, gritty and blue-collar mentality that keeps the Titans competitive and has led to consistent over-performing of expectations during his tenure. At first, Skoronski will be blocking for Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry, but sooner rather than later, the guard in Tennessee will be changing.
The Titans traded up for Kentucky quarterback Will Levis in the second round, ending the slide of what many prognosticators projected to be a top 10 pick. Tannehill becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2024 and Levis seems to be the natural successor after the Malik Willis experiment did not go as planned. Henry is also a free agent in 2024 and the Titans snagged Tulane’s Tyjae Spears in the third round of the draft, who could be the next in line as Henry turns 30 this upcoming season. With the selection of Skoronski, Titans brass is planning on him being a stalwart on the offensive line for the next decade of football in Tennessee, regardless of where he lines up or who he’s protecting.