|By Shawn Childs, Saturday, June 13, 2015|
The Titans finished with their worst record (2-14) since 1983 with Ken Whisenhunt as the head coach. They dropped to 30th in points scored (254) with the 29th-ranked offense in total yards gained (303.7 YPG). Their defense wasn't much better as they fell to 29th in points allowed (438) and 27th in yards allowed (373 YPG). Tennessee has been outscored by 344 points over the last three years. Whisenhunt is 47-65 in his coaching career with two playoff appearances. Jason Michael will run the offense for the second straight year. He's been a coach for 10 seasons with this being his first run as the offensive coordinator. Ray Horton gets his second run as the Titans' defensive coordinator. He's held the same position for three different teams over the last fours. The Titans haven't made the playoffs in six years. Their future depends on the right arm of franchise QB Marcus Mariota.
Tennessee's best additions this offseason came on the defensive side of the ball – S Da'Norris Searcy, LB Brian Orakpo, CB Perrish Cox, and LB Jonathan Massaquoi. Searcy offered a steady presence at safety last year for the Bills. He added value in run support with neutral success in passing coverage. Da'Norris missed most of December with a hamstring injury. Cox graded only league average across the board in 2014 as a starter. Orakpo will upgrade the pass rush with a nice bump stopping the run. Brian was selected in the first round in 2009. Massaquoi will add depth to the position.
OT Michael Oher left to sign with Carolina. He was a huge liability in both run and pass blocking. He was replaced by OT Byron Bell was coincidentally played with the Panthers in 2014. Bell allowed 11 sacks, six QB hits, and 43 QB hurries while playing left tackle last year.
WR Hakeem Nicks and WR Harry Douglas were added to the receiving corps. Nick has been a bust in back-to-back to years while Douglas has shown upside over the last two years as a part-time replacement for WR Julio Jones and WR Roddy White.
The Titans pounced on QB Marcus Mariota with their second pick overall in this year's draft. Mariota lit up the 2015 NFL combine like a Christmas tree. He flashed his elite speed and quickness while showcasing plus athletic ability. Marcus will have an edge in the run game at the next level, but he needs to prove he can read defenses while throwing in a much tighter window. Mariota shows the ability to look off the safety with a solid arm to make all the throws.
In the second round, Tennessee tried to add a plus weapon in WR Dorial Green-Beckham. He has immense size (6'5´and 237 lbs.) with exceptional speed (4.49 forty at the NFL combine), but he lacks strength. Dorial has a troubled past with questionable motivation and technique. DGB is a project with high upside.
G Jeremiah Poutasi showed growth in his senior season at Utah where he played left tackle. He is projected to play at guard with limited upside in run-blocking. The change in position will help stabilize his pass-blocking.
With their two picks in the fourth round, Tennessee selected DT Angelo Blackson and FB Jalston Fowler. Blackson will turn into a rotational run clogger at the next level with no real value when attacking the QB. Fowler is a converted RB who will need to improve his blocking ability to earn playing time.
RB David Cobb was drafted in the fifth. Cobb is a power runner with plus value breaking tackles. His lack of speed and quickness limits his upside in playing time with the Titans.
Tennessee added LB Deiontrez Mount, C Andy Gallik, and WR Tre McBride with their last three picks. Mount plays with strength and enough speed to have value to attack the QB, but his skill set is in between positions. He looks like a situational player. Gallik has upside as a quick hitting run blocker, but he has a short window in pass-blocking. McBride has 4.4 speed with very good quickness, but he struggled with his release and gaining separation out of his breaks. His speed and hands will create a reasonable opportunity.
Tennessee Titans WR Dorial Green-Beckham
Tennessee only gained 4.1 yards per rush in 2014 with just six rushing TDs. They finished 26th in rushing yards (1447) with only 22.1 rushing attempts per game.
Taylor Lewan is expected to start at left tackle after being selected in the first round in the 2014 NFL draft. In his six starts last year, Taylor allowed four sacks while only being a league average player. His season ended in December with an ankle injury.
LG Andy Levitre has graded highly in both run and pass blocking over the last three games, but never both in the same season. Last year he allowed six sacks with neutral value in run blocking.
C Brian Schwenke will compete with rookie C Andy Gallik for the starting job. Schwenke has been unimpressive in his 20 career starts over the last two years after being selected in the fourth round in 2014. Last year Brian allowed one sack, seven QB hits, and 10 QB hurries in 11 games with below average value in the run game.
RG Chance Warmack played well over the last seven games in 2014 with positive value in each game. He only allowed two sacks on the year with upside value in run blocking. Chance was drafted in the first round in 2013.
RT Byron Bell was overmatched at left tackle in 2014 and his value was much better at right tackle in 2013 (10 sacks, six QB hits, and 34 QB hurries). The Titans best option at this position may be rookie Jeremiah Poutasi.
The Titans allowed 50 sacks last year with the 22nd-ranked passing game (3,412 yards), which led to 20 passing TDs and 16 INTs.
This line has two elite upside players and one player that will add value to the line. They have two questions marks with one being repairable if their third draft pick Poutasi is ready to make a run at the starting job.
Game score was big part of Tennessee only running the ball 41.1 percent of the time. They completed the exact same total of passes (74) to RBs and TEs. WRs caught only 150 passes for 2,168 yards and 12 TDs.
Tennessee really only has one tough matchup in the run game – New York Jets. They have four games against weak run defenses – CLE, NO, and JAX (X 2). Their toughest matchups against the pass are: CLE, BUF, and MIA. The Titans have three favorable games against the pass – TB, ATL, and NO.
QB Marcus Mariota - Sleeper (undervalued)
In his three years with Oregon, Mariota passed for 10,796 yards with 105 TDs and 14 INTs while completing 66.8 percent of his passes. In each season, Marcus ran for 700-plus yards (337 carries & 2,237 rushing yards in his career) with 29 rushing TDs. He has excellent size (6'4' and 222 lbs.) with great speed and quickness. His skill set has high upside, but he needs to prove he can read defenses and throw in a tighter window. Mariota did a great job limiting his mistakes, but he'll face more pressure at the next level. Last year the Titans threw for 3,412 yards with 20 passing TDs and 16 INTs. Overall, Marcus won't have elite options in this passing game early in his career. His legs will create big play opportunities downfield, plus give him steady value in the fantasy market. I expected him to start from day one and he has all the tools to be an elite QB. The transition from shotgun to behind center will change his pre-snap looks with some adjustments in his timing on his drops. Mariota will rank highly in rushing yards with value in rushing TDs. He will pass for 3,500-plus yards with 600-plus rushing yards and 25 combined TDs, which makes him a candidate to finish among the Top 12 QBs.
Tennessee Titans QB Marcus Mariota
QB Zach Mettenberger - Not Draft Worthy
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RB Bishop Sankey - Gamble (high risk)
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Tennessee Titans RB Bishop Sankey
WR Kendall Wright - Quality Backup
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WR Harry Douglas - Super Sleeper (high risk/potential)
Over the last two years, Douglas has emerged as a viable WR option when given a starting opportunity. In 2014, he had two impact games (9-116 and 10-131). His highlight season was 2013 when he caught 85 balls for 1,067 yards with two TDs on 132 targets. This season he will compete with Nicks for the starting job. His resume of success over the last two years gives him a boxer's chance of getting starting stats. Harry has low value in TDs and he'll turn 31 in mid-September. I don't see him as starting piece of a winning fantasy team on draft day, but he will have value as a bench option.
WR Dorial Green-Beckham - Super Sleeper (high risk/potential)
In his freshman and sophomore seasons at Missouri, Dorial caught 87 passes for 1,278 yards with six TDs. He has immense size (6'5" and 237 lbs.) with plus speed (4.49 forty at the 2015 NFL combine). Surprisingly, he lacks strength with weak route-running skills. Green-Beckham also has some character issues, which led to him missing last year. Dorial has upside when he develops his technique, but 2015 will be a learning experience.
WR Justin Hunter - Bust (overvalued)
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Tennessee Titans WRs Kendall Wright & Justin Hunter
TE Delanie Walker - Sleeper (undervalued)
Walker has really blossomed into a top-12 TE option over the last two years with the Titans after escaping the shadow of TE Vernon Davis. Last year, he set career highs in catches (63), yards (890), and targets (106). He finished as the No. 1 passing option for Tennessee. Delanie had two games with over 100 yards receiving and three games with 10 targets or more. Over his last 11 games, Walker only had one TD. This year Delanie will drop to the No. 2 or possibly No. 3 receiving option if WR Hakeem Nicks reemerges. The key for him to hold value will be the development of the QB position, which ultimately may lead to growth in TDs. His success last year was due to his ability to make big plays in the passing game (12 catches of 20 yards or more and two of 40 yards or more). I expected a solid 60 catch for 600 yard season with a handful of TDs, which makes him a borderline top-12 TE in PPR leagues.
Tennessee Titans TE Delanie Walker
PK Ryan Succop - Deep-league Only
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Tennessee Titans K Ryan Succop
Tennessee - Not Draft Worthy
Tennessee has a favorable schedule against both the run and the pass. They have nine above-average run matches with only three tough games – CAR and HOU (X 2). On the passing side, the Titans face four top passing teams – ATL, NO, and IND (X 2). They have 10 games against below-average passing teams.
The Titans allowed the second-most rushing yards (2,195) with 17 rushing TDs. Teams gained 4.3 yards per rush, which is about the league average. Their lack of success against the run game was due to the most rushing attempts per game allowed (32.2).
Tennessee has one elite defensive end – Jurrell Casey. He has played well over the last two years, which has resulted in 16 sacks, 22 QB hits, and 67 hurries with neutral value against the run. The nose tackle position is wide open with Sammie Lee Hill, Al Woods, and Angelo Blackson competing for the job. I don't think any these players will offer an impact. DE Ropati Pitoilua is coming off his best season defending the run with no value in the pass rush. Pitoilua was signed as undrafted free agent in 2008.
Their top linebacker is Derrick Morgan who was drafted in the first round in 2010. His strength is rushing the QB (seven QB sacks, eight QB hits, and 34 QB hurries). They have two weak middle linebackers – Wesley Woodyard and Avery Williamson. Both players offer below average skills. The best upside at the position will come from LB Zack Brown (second round in 2012) and LB Zaviar Gooden (third round in 2013). LB Brian Orakpo will offer plus value rushing the QB with talent stopping the run game.
Last year Tennessee had 39 sacks, which was the league average total. They allowed 28 passing TDs with 12 INTs with league average passing yards allowed (3,773).
Jason McCourty is their top cornerback, but he allowed the second-most receiving yards (1,041) in 2014 with three TDs and three INTs. In addition, CB Perrish Cox finished ninth in passing yards allowed (830) with three TDs and five INTs. S Da'Norris Searcy played well in both run support and pass coverage.
Overall, this defense has three strong players and two CBs with more upside that can place more pressure on the QB. They have a chance to be league average against the run if their offense can keep the defense off the field. I see them as a value backup fantasy defense with upside in the right matchups.