NASHVILLE, TEnn. (AP) — The Tennessee Titans have ended Malik Willis' wait, trading up to make him the third quarterback taken in this NFL draft.
In their third trade of this draft, the Titans dealt the 90th and 169th selections to Las Vegas to move up to No. 86 and use the pick to select the Liberty quarterback Friday night. They already have Ryan Tannehill, who has the highest salary-cap number in the NFL, with Logan Woodside as his backup.
The Titans started Friday night selecting cornerback Roger McCreary of Auburn at No. 35. McCreary was the third pick in the second round after trading out of the first round from the No. 26 selection with the New York Jets on Thursday night. They picked Ohio State offensive tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere with the 69th overall pick for an option at right tackle before making Willis their third offensive player in this draft.
The 6-foot, 219-pound Willis threw for 2,857 yards and 27 touchdowns last season at Liberty with 12 interceptions. He also ran for 13 TDs. For his career, Willis finished with 48 TD passes and 29 touchdowns rushing.
Tennessee cut left guard Rodger Saffold and reserve lineman Josh Kline to create salary cap space in March. David Quessenberry, who started every game last season at right tackle, was a restricted free agent the Titans chose not to tender from a unit that gave up 47 sacks last season.
They signed Jamarco Jones from Seattle and also have Dillon Radunz, a second-round pick from North Dakota State a year ago.
Petit-Frere was a two-year starter for Ohio State at right tackle, starting 20 of 35 games played. The 6-foot-5, 315-pound Petit-Frere was first-team All-Big Ten in 2021 and played on three straight Big Ten title teams. A strong run blocker, he helped the Buckeyes rank first nationally in total offense and scoring offense.
The new offensive lineman is ecstatic at the thought of being able to block for Derrick Henry, calling it a "blessing."
"There's only a few people that you can say, 'Hey, I got a chance to block for that would make you be able to have stories about and to be able to block for someone like Derrick Henry, one of the best running backs in the league, one of the best running backs ever to play college football," Petit-Frere said.
He and McCreary join Arkansas' receiver Treylon Burks, who the Titans drafted at No. 18 after trading A.J. Brown to Philadelphia. The Titans made two trades on the opening night, adding three more selections giving them 10 in this draft. They still have the 90th pick overall Friday night with six more Saturday.
McCreary was a first-team All-American who had 135 career tackles with six interceptions and 32 passes broken up. He joins a young secondary with Caleb Farley, a first-round selection a year ago who's recovering from a torn ACL; Kristian Fulton, a 2020 second-round pick; and Elijah Molden, a third-round pick a year ago.
"I feel like I will come in and do great with my skillset because I'm a corner that can play a lot of zone too," McCreary said.
McCreary joins a defense that tied for the fifth stingiest scoring defense but ranked 25th against the pass allowing 245.2 yards per game.
The Titans still could use another receiver to help an offense that ranked 24th in the NFL last season with their top receiver now in Philadelphia. Tannehill also was intercepted 14 times, his most since his second season in the NFL in 2013.
Tennessee tried to give Tannehill more help last June, trading for seven-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Julio Jones. But Jones was released in March after struggling with a hamstring issue that limited him to 10 games, and he had the worst season of his career with 31 catches for 434 yards and one touchdown.
The Titans traded for Robert Woods from the Rams and also signed tight end Austin Hooper. Woods is recovering from an left ACL torn in practice last November, putting his availability at the start of the season in question.