Tennessee Titans' Defense Will Need to Mature This Season

Jason HallAnalyst IAugust 29, 2013

NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 4:  Jay Cutler #6 of the Chicago Bears is tackled by Akeem Ayers #56 of the Tennessee Titans at LP Field on November 4, 2012 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

The Tennessee Titans ranked 28th in total defense amongst NFL teams last season. During the offseason, they acquired safety Bernard Pollard, defensive tackle Sammie Hill and several backups to shore up the defensive line's depth.

Tennessee also named former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams the team's senior assistant defensive coach in hopes of having a more aggressive unit this season.

However, the biggest factor in the Titans' defensive production will be the maturation of young players.

Excluding defensive end Kamerion Wimbley, free safety Michael Griffin and Pollard, none of the Titans' projected defensive starters have over five years of NFL experience.

Many of the Titans' defensive starters were acquired during the early rounds of the NFL draft. Assuming they reach their full potential, the Titans defense could see a major improvement in production this season.

However, to do so, the core group of young players must mature into true NFL standouts.

Derrick Morgan must continue his development into an elite NFL pass-rusher. Morgan has seen an increase in productivity since being selected in the first round of the 2010 NFL draft. In 2012, he recorded a career-best 6.5 sacks and 59 total tackles.

The Titans will also need to see production from their young linebacking corps. However, they have struggled to find a healthy answer at linebacker during the preseason.

Akeem Ayers is coming off a 102-tackle season and will likely produce, if healthy, this season. Colin McCarthy and Zach Brown are also facing injuries, but should be major factors in the team's defensive scheme.

The cornerback position also has major questions entering the regular season. Alterraun Verner and Tommie Campbell have competed for the No.2 starting position opposite Jason McCourty throughout the preseason.

Unofficial depth charts—such as those on the team's website and CBSSports.comsuggest that Verner has done enough to take Campbell's position. However, the team has yet to make an official decision.

Neither player has more than four years of NFL experience and could be entering the prime of their career this season.

The Titans defense could see a major improvement in its development this season. Many of its core players are entering the prime years of their NFL careers and have the potential to become a surprising group this season.