Are you a Tennessee Titans enthusiast who read this title and immediately thought “Mario Williams?”
For what it’s worth, the Buffalo Bills’ $100 million defensive end finished the 2012-13 NFL season with 46 tackles, 10.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. That was his first double-digit sack season since the 2008-09 season.
Are those numbers at $100 million preferred to Kamerion Wimbley’s numbers at $35 million?
Here are some position grades for defensive ends (DE). For defensive tackles, check this out.
16 games played, 59 tackles, 5 stuffs, 6 pass deflections, 6.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble
Derrick Morgan made significant strides as he remained healthy for the 2012-13 NFL season. Morgan led the team with 6.5 sacks. While that isn’t a great number, Morgan showed his value in run-defense. As Josh Gunnels mentioned in this piece, Pro Football Focus ranked Morgan as the eighth-best player at applying quarterback pressure; he just didn’t reach the quarterback often enough.
Since I don’t give minus grades, I’ll hand him a B+. Get those sack totals in the double digits and he’ll get an A. Become Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt and he’ll get the A+.
16 games played, 30 tackles, 1 stuff, 0 pass deflections, 6 sacks, 1 forced fumble
This past off-season, Kamerion Wimbley signed a five-year, $35 million contract. Management was expecting more than six sacks from their expensive free-agent pickup. Then again, his last double-digit sack season came in 2006. Maybe expecting more sacks was wishful thinking on their behalf (and mine, too).
Think about this: J.J. Watt had 16 pass deflections. Wimbley had zero. Wimbley is only 1” smaller. Got to get those hands up!
Wimbley is a player who probably shouldn’t play except on obvious passing downs. The Titans’ linebackers aren’t good enough to mask Wimbley’s vulnerabilities in run-defense, especially when Colin McCarthy is hurt. It’s hard to turn a $35 million player into a part-time role player—but that’s what needs done.
7 games played, 6 tackles, 1 stuff, 1 pass deflection, 2 sacks, 0 forced fumbles
Jarius Wynn did enough to earn another look during training camp. Although Wynn isn’t consistent enough to become a starter, he may add value as the fourth defensive end in the rotation or someone who plays on first downs. He’s valuable against the run and applies some quarterback pressure.
13 games played, four tackles, 0 stuffs, 0 pass deflections, 0 sacks, 0 forced fumbles
Scott Solomon appeared in 13 games. He certainly didn’t add anything to the defense. Nothing would’ve changed had he appeared in zero games. That’s a shame because the Titans could’ve used more production from their backup defensive ends, especially before Wynn played toward the end of the season.
Solomon needs a strong training camp to make the 2013-14 roster.
Keyunta Dawson, Pannel Egboh, Dave Ball
These players were either injured or didn’t contribute enough to merit an opinion
OVERALL GRADE: C+
The Tennessee Titans got more sacks from each of their starting defensive ends than they did during the 2011-12 season. While the overall unit was better, it wasn’t much better than average.
Moving forward, fans should expect more from this unit. As long as Morgan stays healthy, he should keep progressing. Add another pass-rush specialist while Jurrell Casey and Mike Martin play defensive tackle? It has the makings for very effective trench play.