Second year Tennessee Titans tight end Jonnu Smith knows he’s playing behind one of the best in the game in Delanie Walker, but that isn’t stopping him from gunning for the top spot on the depth chart.
Smith recently told Titans Online “I think he’s the best at what he does, but I’m coming for that position, that’s for sure.”
While Walker is still performing at a high level, there’s no doubt he’s in the twilight of his career.
Walker will turn 34 just before the start of the 2018 season. He probably only has a couple of years of high production left, which will leave an opening for Smith.
In 16 games, Smith caught 18 passes for 157 yards and two touchdowns. Those numbers aren’t impressive by any means, but it’s nearly impossible to judge a rookie tight end on their rookie statistics. Tight ends, generally, take bit a longer to develop than other positions.
Take Walker for example. He didn’t catch more than 30 passes in a season until his eighth year in the league. Since then, however, Walker has been one of the best tight ends in the NFL. He hasn’t caught fewer than 60 passes in a season since the 2012 season (which coincides with his arrival to Tennessee).
Smith is already ahead of where Walker was as a young tight end. And he’s already showed Titans fans that he’s capable of being an explosive playmaking tight end.
You don’t see a lot of tight ends score 32 yard touchdowns on screen passes. Smith displayed some nice field awareness and some savvy moves on that play.
I don’t know exactly what the future holds for Smith. Maybe he’ll pick up where Walker leaves off in a couple of years. Or maybe he’ll fail to make an impact for the Titans. It’s still way too early to know for sure.
For what it’s worth, however, I think the future is bright for Smith. As a rookie, I think he showed he can be an offensive weapon for the Titans — he just needs the opportunities.
Maybe we’ll start to see a changing of the guard at the tight end position in the near future in Nashville.
Images via USA Today and Getty