Tennessee Titans Free Agent Interests: Cliff Avril


Dec. 16, 2012; Glendale, AZ, USA: Detroit Lions defensive end Cliff Avril (92) against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the Lions 38-10. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

It’s no secret that the Tennessee Titans are in need of help at the defensive end position.  While the defenses sack numbers did increase this year compared to last, a large part of that was due to the blitzing linebackers.  Akeem Ayers pass rush abilities and the emergence of rookie Zach Brown had a lot to do with those numbers.  You can only get away with blitzing so often before the better quarterbacks in the league will pick you apart, which is why getting consistent pressure from your front four is so important.  The secondary is in major need of help, but we all know a good pass rush can send mediocre defensive backs to the Pro Bowl.

Cliff Avril is one of the bigger name Defensive Ends that are set for free agency in a few weeks.  As you can see, his production is off the charts as he’s had almost 30 sacks in the past three years.

Some say he’s merely a product of head coach Jim Schwartz, who we all know from his days as a Titans defensive coordinator.  He also has the benefit of playing beside two of the best defensive tackles in the game.  PFF has Avril rated incredibly low with a score of -11.6.  They aren’t the end all of evaluation, but I do hold their analysis with a good bit of regard.  All I can imagine is that they see Avril as a one trick pony.  His sack numbers are great, but I’m not sure how he holds up against the run.

As you can see in the video below, most of his sacks come from simply running by the left tackle.  His burst off the line is stellar but you never see him swim inside, run a stunt or just bulldoze the Offensive Tackle backwards.

Avril’s price tag may prove too high for the Titans once he explores free agency, especially considering the number of needs the Titans have.  I can’t see why it would hurt to bring him in though.  If the Titans do spend big money on any one free agent this could be the one.  Adding a proven edge defender would essentially eliminate any need at the end position, but I’m not convinced Avril is the guy.

I know the draft has a lot of rush end talent at the top, but they are all unproven.  Why not take a sure thing, improve your defensive immensely, take pressure off your weak secondary, and open up your draft options all at the same time.  The question is whether Avril is that sure thing or not.

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