The Tennessee Titans used their second third-round pick (No. 100 overall) on Florida International tight end Jonnu Smith.
Smith’s selection makes three offensive player in Tennessee’s first four picks, joining wide receivers Corey Davis and Taywan Taylor. All three of those offensive players are from non-power five conference schools.
Smith overcame a tragic incident last season, when on Halloween 2016 his pregnant girlfriend threw boiling water on him during an argument. He returned from the mishap and missed just one game. The woman, Mary Gaspar, was charged with aggravated battery in the incident.
Smith said he has done his best to move past the incident, which he discussed on his pre-draft visit with the Titans.
“That’s just how the world is today,” he said. “Social media kind of runs a lot in the world today. But it happened. We discussed it. They wanted to know my side of the story, but we’re past it, and we’re looking forward to coming in and winning football games.”
Titans GM Jon Robinson spoke of the matter as well, and Smith’s ability to persevere through it.
“That’s kind of a personal thing with him. I would just say that I respect the heck out of him. He wanted the mother to be a part of the child’s life. He went through it in detail with me – I would like to keep that between he and I – but he is a phenomenal young man,” Robinson said.
Smith again fits the team-first, self-made type of player the Titans have seemingly targeted in this draft. Florida International was the only school to offer him a scholarship coming out of high school.
He led all college tight ends in receptions in 2014 with 61. Smith suffered a torn ACL in 2015 and battled back from that.
The Titans have Delanie Walker, who has made the Pro Bowl in each of the past two seasons, but need another tight end after the departure of Anthony Fasano, their primary blocking tight end, as a free agent to the Miami Dolphins.
And while Smith was regarded as a receiving tight end, the Titans believe he can help to fill that blocking tight end role opposite Walker.
“There’s a misconception that he gets slated as an ‘F’ tight end or move tight end. He runs a 4.5, but the film we watched, he’s a pretty good blocker at the point of attack,” Titans Robinson said. “He gets into guys with pretty good technique and works to finish. Again, he’s another guy that just kind of fit us from an overall fit standpoint.”
Smith said he likes playing with a physical style like the Titans employ.
“I pride myself on being physical and I feel like that’s a huge part in winning championships, and not just physical toughness but mental toughness as well,” Smith said.