NASHVILLE – Chig Okonkwo became a fan favorite during his rookie season.
The Titans tight end proved early he could be a dynamic playmaker, and folks across the league noticed. At the end of the season, in fact, Okonkwo was named to the Pro Football Writers Association's All-Rookie team.
What did Okonkwo think of his first NFL season?
"I definitely think it could have been better," Okonkwo said on Wednesday. "I think it could have been way better if I just had the sense of myself that I had later on in the year. If I was able to play like that at the beginning of the year, I would have done a lot more.
"But that obviously comes with time, and reps, and getting it in."
A year later, Okonkwo has more familiarity in the system.
He thinks his ceiling is even higher for 2023.
"I feel like I showed last year what I can do," Okonkwo said. "And I feel like this year, it is coming out the same and making plays again, making sure everybody in the offense can trust me with the ball. Just getting smarter, upping my football intelligence and understanding the big picture of plays, things like that.
"I feel like I have all the ability in the world, but for me it is just having the confidence to go out and do it."
A fourth-round draft pick in the 2022 NFL Draft out of Maryland, Okonkwo finished the 2022 season with 32 catches for 450 yards and three touchdowns.
Heading into Year 2, Okonkwo is focused on the little things to make him better.
He has a new position coach – Tony Dews switched from running backs coach to tight ends coach this offseason – and the Titans have added three new tight ends to the group, including veteran Trevon Wesco, fifth-round pick Josh Whyle, and Justin Rigg, who played at Kentucky and previously spent time with the Bengals and Steelers.
Okonkwo said he loves the diversity of the group.
His focus this offseason is to get even better as a blocker, to develop in the passing game as a route-runner, and to be a better leader.
"Not just relying on my speed all the time on routes, but being able to set guys up and break guys off, and being able to get open in shorter spaces," Okonkwo said. "And I definitely see myself leading the tight end room. I see myself as being the guy to bring us all together for sure."