Tennessee Titans: Full Position Breakdown at Quarterback

Chad MintonCorrespondent IJune 2, 2014

Tennessee Titans: Full Position Breakdown at Quarterback

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    Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

    You can't help but circle quarterback as the biggest area of concern on the Tennessee Titans' roster heading into the 2014 season. 

    The Titans have struggled to find any stability at this position for several seasons now, and it's a big reason why the Titans haven't made the playoffs since 2008.

    A successful NFL team has to have a reliable quarterback, and there's major questions if the Titans currently have that on their roster.

    The depth chart is locked into place for now, but it has the potential to change before Week 1 against the Kansas City Chiefs. Here's a full breakdown of the position.

1st String: Jake Locker

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    Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

    Patience has to be wearing as thin as possible with Jake Locker right now. No matter how much potential he may have, he offers zero value if he can't stay healthy.

    As of now, Locker is still the team's starter for Week 1, but odds aren't good that Locker makes it through 16 games, per Paul Kuharsky of ESPN.com.

    The Titans didn't pick up Locker's option for 2015, meaning that they're not married to him as the future. However, Locker still gives the Titans a better chance to win over the other options.

    Locker played well to start the 2013 season before getting injured, and the Titans were sitting pretty at 3-1. The most encouraging stat through his first four games of last season was zero interceptions. It shows that Locker is learning how to manage games effectively.

    The rest is history, but you can't dismiss the chances of that happening again.

    Playing under the more offensive-minded Ken Whisenhunt will also greatly benefit Locker's progress.

    Craig Peters of the Titans' official website reported that Locker is already competing with the offense's other starters at OTAs. 

    This is a make-or-break year for Locker, and his leash will be relatively short over the first half of the season. There's nothing that can happen before the season opener, other than another injury, that will force Locker out of his starting role.

2nd String: Charlie Whitehurst

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    Mark Zaleski/Associated Press

    It's hard to say where Charlie Whitehurst fits into all of this at the moment. He's basically a career backup quarterback who has limited experience as a starter.

    However, Whitehurst does have a leg up in Whisenhunt's offense that everyone is trying to learn. Whitehurst played under Whisenhunt last season with the San Diego Chargers.

    David Climer of The Tennessean (h/t KnoxNews.com) considers Whitehurst as virtually a player/coach to Locker and the other young quarterbacks.

    History suggests that Locker will go down with another injury and force the Titans to turn to whoever their backup quarterback would be. It needs to be Whitehurst at this point thanks simply to being a veteran who knows what Whisenhunt wants.

    The Titans will be in a world of trouble no matter who the backup quarterback is if Locker suffers another long-term injury. Think about how bad last season was with Ryan Fitzpatrick being forced in, and double it.

    Whitehurst would have to play damage control the best he can if he's thrust into a starting role. 

    This could all change halfway through the season, but Whitehurst is the primary backup for now.

3rd String: Zach Mettenberger

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    Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

    Zach Mettenberger is purely a project quarterback right now, and that puts him as the tentative third quarterback on the depth chart. His strong arm alone is not enough to put him ahead of Locker and Whitehurst.

    There is plenty of time this offseason for that outlook to change dramatically. Mettenberger has to prove that he's make progress from his knee injury he suffered in his last season at LSU.

    Mettenberger also has to show that he's able to read NFL defenses in game situations, and that skill takes time to master for most rookie quarterbacks.

    The Titans can't risk throwing Mettenberger to the wolves too early and shatter his confidence moving forward.

    Kevin Patra of NFL.com said that Mettenberger looked sharp in rookie minicamp and will probably learn from the bench in 2014. 

    This approach most notably worked for the Green Bay Packers with Aaron Rodgers, and the Titans need to do the same.

    Mettenberger is the long-term backup to Locker, but not the short-term one. He needs time to develop and build a foundation off of some of the great skills he already brings to the position.

Practice Squad: Tyler Wilson

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    Mark Zaleski/Associated Press

    Without the drafting of Mettenberger, Tyler Wilson would be looking at a solid opportunity to land a roster spot.

    There's not much room for him now, and he hasn't been able to develop quickly enough for the Titans to skip drafting a quarterback. It tells me that he's not close to being anything more than a practice squad contributor.

    Wilson will see plenty of competition in the early going with Mettenberger for third-string quarterback, per Mike Wilkening of NBCSports.com.

    We will get a chance to see Wilson some in preseason to see how far he has come along since his collegiate days at Arkansas. 

    The Titans should start planning for the first overall pick in next year's NFL draft if Wilson is needed as a starter, or even a backup, in 2014.