NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Tennessee Titans aren’t immediately tabbing No. 8 overall pick Jack Conklin as their right tackle, leaving open the possibility he could press Taylor Lewan for the left tackle post.
No matter the alignment, the two players are the team’s bookends now: A newcomer from Michigan State and the 11th pick from 2014 out of Michigan obligated to protect Marcus Mariota and make room for DeMarco Murray.
And the hope is that Conklin’s attitude is contagious for the entire line. Lewan spoke plenty prior to last season about leading a tough, nasty line that would finish defenders.
In practice, it never evolved into that.
“Get my job done, and then put my guy on the ground,” Conklin said of his style. “I want people to remember they played me and then the thing I like to do is just get up and go back to the huddle and get ready for the next play. I pride myself on being a mauler, but I pride myself more importantly on being that player every play of the game.”
The Titans need his playing style and the one free-agent center Ben Jones brings to spread to their linemates: Lewan at the other tackle, Chance Warmack at right guard and Jeremiah Poutasi or whoever beats him out at left guard.
“When I got the job we talked about tough, accountable, team-first guys,” general manager Jon Robison said. “We thought [Conklin] embodies that to the Nth degree.”
Robinson and the Titans expect the attitude to be infectious.
“When somebody sees a guy playing really hard and trying to finish guys, it sort of catches on and becomes a lot more fun,” Conklin said. “If you’re just dancing around as an offensive line, it’s just not as contagious in the offensive line room. When guys are getting into competitions about how many guys they knock down in a game, it becomes more of a camaraderie and just a great line to be around.”
Conklin said the offense he played in at Michigan State is just like the one the Titans want to be in terms of line play.
He had a good feeling about the Titans and offensive line coach Russ Grimm, a Pro Football Hall of Fame offensive lineman, from when he visited the team in Nashville.
“Ever since I took a visit down to Tennessee, I fell in love with the program and everything they are trying to build there,” he said. “I just had a sense after I left that that was going to be the organization I was going to end up with.
Conklin watched the Titans trade down to No. 15 a couple of weeks ago. When he heard Thursday night the Titans traded back up to No. 8 he just knew his name was about to be called.