Predicting the Tennessee Titans' Depth Chart, Post-OTAs
Competition abounds among the Tennessee Titans with only a few days remaining in Organized Team Activities and the usual stream of abject positivity to go along with it.
So far, all the pieces of the 2013 Titans' puzzle are coming together in a matter that has pleased the coaching staff and their collective pursuit of improvement.
There have been some interesting position change developments in the cases of Scott Solomon, Karl Klug and Alterraun Verner while the positional battles have struck up some interest in the cases of Moise Fokou and Colin McCarthy as well.
We're still a long ways away from the team roster becoming official, but here's the latest prediction of what the 2013 Tennessee Titans will look like.
- Jake Locker
- Ryan Fitzpatrick
Nothing has changed at quarterback for the Titans since organized team activities started. By all accounts, Jake Locker's shoulder that hampered him for much of the 2012 season is fully healed and he has been a full participant at team OTAs
New offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains has thrown last season's playbook into the fire pit and has completely made it his own. One new facet of the offense we should all expect to see is the read-option.
Locker has shown the speed and athleticism to be a serious weapon when rolling out, but injuries are still a concern. More of a concern, however, are the accuracy issues that plagued him throughout last season.
Despite all of the additions the Titans' roster has seen this offseason, this team will only go as far as Locker can carry it. If he continues to struggle, Ryan Fitzpatrick may get to become a starter once again.
Rusty Smith would hold down the third-string quarterback job for another year if not for the incredible depth at other positions
Running Back (4)
- Chris Johnson
- Shonn Greene
- Jalen Parmele
- Darius Reynaud
We have a running back (Chris Johnson), that every time he touches the ball, he has a chance to take it to the house, so we’re going to give him every opportunity to do that.
— Shawn Jefferson, Titans wide receivers coach
For the first time since LenDale White was on the roster, there is a legitimate change-of-pace back on the Titans' roster in the form of Shonn Greene. Despite that development CJ2k made his annual proclamation of rushing for 2,000 yards again on the Jim Rome radio show.
The Titans' offseason focus on overhauling the interior of their offensive line has made the unit a point of strength rather than the glaring weakness it had become.
Many expect to see a return to a more run-heavy approach, circa 2008 when Johnson had 251 carries and White toted the ball 200 times.
Darius Reynaud showed himself to be a quality receiver out of the backfield and a major threat as a return man. Jalen Parmele had the most carries of his career in 2012 after stepping into a more prominent role due to the injury bug that struck down seemingly all of the Jacksonville Jaguars' running backs.
When given the opportunity, Parmele proved himself to be a capable backup who is also able to contribute on special teams.
Wide Receiver (6)
Split End (X): Kenny Britt, Damian Williams
Flanker (Z): Nate Washington, Justin Hunter
Slot (Y): Kendall Wright, Kevin Walter
Everything at wide receiver seems to be a question mark, including whether Kenny Britt, who is heading into his fifth season, will finally put together a full season.
Is Nate Washington on his out of Tennessee? Was Justin Hunter worth trading up for? Can Kendall Wright improve on a strong rookie season?
The Titans' receiving corps has more talent than it has maybe ever had. But rather than reading and hearing about all the talent at the position, seeing results on the field would persuade more people to actually believe it.
Having a healthy Britt would go a long ways toward making this receiving corps downright scary. Britt has been the team's No. 1 receiver by title only. Nate Washington has been the true key to the Titans' passing game for the last two years.
Kendall Wright dropped 14 pounds during the offseason by changing his eating habits. Being a little lighter on his feet could help to improve his abysmal 9.8 yards per catch from a season ago..
Justin Hunter has yet to see the field during OTAs due to a hamstring injury. There's still plenty of time for him to round into form before the season starts, but a lingering hamstring injury is never a good sign.
Tight Ends (4)
- Delanie Walker
- Craig Stevens
- Taylor Thompson
- Jack Doyle
The Titans seem to have decided to a take a Swiss Army knife approach to the tight end position this offseason.
Delanie Walker has the ability to line up at tight end, receiver and H-back and Stevens has seen some time at fullback this offseason while Thompson saw action at the position last season.
All three are solid pass-catchers who excel in both pass-blocking and run-blocking. Having three tight ends that are so versatile and adept at blocking and being an aerial weapon makes the offense that much more difficult to read.
Jack Doyle has performed well during team activities so far and could contribute to the unit as well.
Offensive Line (8)
Tackle: Michael Roos, David Stewart, Byron Stingily
Guard: Andy Levitre, Chance Warmack, Robert Turner
Center: Fernando Velasco, Brian Schwenke
That's was Chris Johnson's immediate, and very public, reaction to the Titans selecting Chance Warmack with the 10th overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft. The same reaction could be applied to the Titans complete overhaul of the position too.
The turnover amongst the offensive line as a unit has seen perhaps more change than any other on the team. There's a possibility that there will be three new starters in the group, but I am still projecting just two for now.
The major improvements made at offensive line will give Johnson the type of running lanes he saw in 2009.
The battle between Fernando Velasco and Brian Schwenke is sure to be tight until the pads go on, but the rest of the offensive line has some clear characteristics. Michael Roos has always been the finesse tackle of the Titans' talented duo.
Having Roos paired with Andy Levitre, who is an impressive pass-blocker but merely average when it comes to opening up space for running backs, is an interesting fit.
On the right sight of the line are two maulers in Warmack and feisty David Stewart. Expect to see Johnson and Shonn Greene pulling up behind these two often for some big gains in 2013. Run-blocking is their pride and joy.
Regardless of who starts at center, this will be the best offensive line the Titans have seen since Kevin Mawae was on the roster.
Defensive Line (9)
End: Derrick Morgan, Kamerion Wimbley, Ropati Pitoitua, Lavar Edwards
Tackle: Jurrell Casey, Sammie Lee Hill, Mike Martin, Antonio Johnson, Stefan Charles
There are a few new faces in the defensive line unit that are sure to provide the team with some quality depth to rotate on and off the field at the very least.
Sammie Lee Hill steps into the Titans' vacated starting defensive tackle role with hopes of big things come from him. Hill was stuck behind Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley in Detroit, but should flourish with more playing time in Tennessee.
Mike Martin had a great rookie season as a third tackle and will reprise that role in 2013. At end, the coaching staff would like to play Ropati Pitoitua on first and second downs to help stop the run and give starters Kamerion Wimbley and Derrick Morgan some time to rest.
The biggest thing to look forward to with this unit is the development of Jurrell Casey and Derrick Morgan and how their play allows each to feed off one another.
Casey has been a beast in his first two seasons, but it's the third year that prospects really can make a big jump. If Casey can continue to improve his play, it will force double-teams and help open things up for pass-rushers.
With Morgan on the brink of breaking out as well, he is sure to be the prime beneficiary of Casey's double-teams. Teams will be forced to decide which of the two to double a per-play basis.
Much like the receiving corps, the Titans have a lot of quality depth in this group, but need someone to break out to make things work.
Strongside: Akeem Ayers, Scott Solomon
Middle: Colin McCarthy, Moise Fokou, Tim Shaw
Weakside: Zach Brown, Zaviar Gooden
Moise Fokou has been impressing during OTAs and has been running with the first-team defense ahead of Colin McCarthy. I don't see him finishing training camp with the starting job, but it should push McCarthy to become better.
On the outside, Zach Brown and Akeem Ayers round off a young starting group that should only continue to gel and get better.
Zaviar Gooden, Fokou and the transitioning Scott Solomon provide an above-average group of backups at the position.
According to the Tennesseean's Jim Wyatt, Solomon blew past a defender during Monday's practice. The switch for Solomon should provide options as the Titans opt to run some 3-4 formations or if the team wants to use both him and Ayers at the same time for stopping the run.
Defensive Backs (10)
Corner: Jason McCourty, Alterraun Verner, Blidi Wreh-Wilson, Tommie Campbell, Coty Sensabaugh, Khalid Wooten
Safety: Michael Griffin, Bernard Pollard, George Wilson, Robert Johnson
Jason McCourty, Michael Griffin and Bernard Pollard all appear to be locked into starting roles, but the battle for second corner and nickel are wide open.
The Titans' new emphasis on playing press and man coverage has put Alterraun Verner at a bit of a disadvantage. Tommie Campbell has been taking reps with the first team and has been battling Alterraun Verner and Blidi Wreh-Wilson
Campbell has impressed defensive coordinator Jerry Gray early on, but similar things were said last year only to never see Campbell on the field.
If either Campbell or Wreh-Wilson are able to take Verner's starting position, perhaps Verner could see some time at free safety where he saw some practice reps recently.
At nickel, Coty Sensabaugh is sure to challenge for playing time again. Verner will also battle for the slot coverage position. It's one that he excels in.
Special Teams (3)
Kjcker: Rob Bironas
Punter: Brett Kern
Long Snapper: Beau Brinkley
Brett Kern and Rob Bironas both rank near the top of their respective positions over the past five seasons, with the exception of Bironas having a bit of a down year in 2012.
Despite the outlier, the two should be able to maintain the high quality of play for another year. In Brinkley, the Titans have a player who goes unnoticed every game, but that's a good thing, considering the only reason a long snapper would garner any attention is after a botched snap.