Tennessee Titans Offense: Projected 2014 Starting Lineup
NFL Free Agency and the 2014 NFL Draft are now officially in the rear-view mirror. The speculation of who the Tennessee Titans would bring in and also let go is in the books as well. Tennessee’s roster is finally starting to come together, so I thought now would be a great time to predict what the starting offfense might look like. There are still multiple starting positions that will be up for grabs throughout training camp and the preseason, and the roster still needs to be trimmed down to the final 53. That being said, the majority of the offense is in place, so let’s take a look at what the Titans offense might look like come Week 1.
QB: Jake Locker– Barring a setback in his recovery from last seasons Lisfranc injury, all signs point towards Jake Locker as the Week 1 starter at quarterback. When healthy, Locker is a superb athlete who can make plays outside the pocket. Intangibles, leadership, arm strength, all the physical tools are there. Unfortunately, there are still questions regarding his accuracy and durability. Can Locker finally put it all together and become the franchise quarterback this team desperately needs?
RB: Bishop Sankey– I am incredibly excited to see what Bishop Sankey brings to the table in his rookie year. Sankey is an all-around back who can excel running inside and outside, has above-average hands out of the backfield, and gives effort in pass-protection. He tested extremely well at the NFL Combine, reassuring he has the natural physical ability needed for the position. I do expect a backfield by committee approach to an extent, with RB Shonn Greene and the newly acquired Dexter McCluster factoring into the game-plan each week. Sankey should get more touches than either of the aforementioned players, and he is poised to make a major impact this season.
WR: Kendall Wright, Nate Washington, and Justin Hunter– I expect a ton of three wide-receiver sets this season. Wright, Washington, and Hunter all should see their fair share of snaps this season. Kendall Wright is the de-facto number No. 1 receiver for this team, and rightfully so. He is a dynamic player with the ball in his hands and has already established himself as one of the NFL’s top slot receivers. His route tree should expand in his third season. Hopefully, Wright gets some more looks downfield this year.
Nate Washington is a nine-year veteran who is still going strong at the age of 30. His awareness and mentorship of his teammates is something that gets overlooked. He has had a positive impact on Wright’s and Hunter’s young careers. Even at this stage of his career, Wright can still make plays when called upon. He seems to make a couple highlight reel type catches each year.
Justin Hunter has immense potential. He made some incredible plays last season, including the first reception of his career, a game-winner against the San Diego Chargers. He showed flashes of greatness despite having a somewhat inconsistent rookie year. He reminds me a lot of Chicago’s wide-out Alshon Jeffery, who made an enormous leap from Year 1 to Year 2. Could Hunter also take that next step in his sophomore season?
TE: Delanie Walker– The Titans brought in Walker last season to replace former tight end Jared Cook. It turned out to be a smart decision, as Walker had a career year at a fraction of the cost compared to what Cook is making in St. Louis. Delanie is a two-way tight end that is growing as a pass-catcher and is a willing blocker. He has a great attitude towards the game and seems to be a good presence in the locker room. I expect Walker to take another step forward not only as a player, but as a leader as well.
OT: Michael Roos and Taylor Lewan– Here is where things get a little tricky. The Titans already have an established left tackle in Michael Roos, albeit on the last year of his contract. They signed Michael Oher in free agency to play right tackle, giving him over $9 million guaranteed. Then they proceeded to select OT Taylor Lewan with the 11th overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. One of these guys is going to have to come off the bench, barring an unforeseen trade or injury. Roos will hold down his left tackle spot for one more year, while Lewan and Oher battle this summer for that right tackle position. Lewan reportedly has never played right tackle in his life, and Oher struggled mightily last season while with the Baltimore Ravens. In the end, I think Lewan beats out Oher and becomes the starting right tackle this season before switching to the left side as early as 2015.
OG: Andy Levitre and Chance Warmack– Levitre and Warmack are virtually locked in as the Titans starting guards for 2014. Both players have been heavily invested in, with Levitre making north of $6 million this season, while Warmack was selected with the 10th overall selection in the 2013 NFL Draft. Both Levitre and Warmack were inconsistent last season, with the former struggling due to injuries, and the latter trying to adjust to life in the NFL. Both are expected to make major strides this year.
Expect this offensive line as a whole to be one of the NFL’s better units.
C: Brian Schwenke– Tennessee didn’t bring in any competition for the center position, so it looks like second-year pro Brian Schwenke will man the spot for 2014. Schwenke came in midway through the season, and predictably didn’t make an impact. He was one of the top centers coming out of the 2013 NFL Draft, and with another offseason under his belt, he could become a competent starter. A productive sophomore season would help solidify his starting job for the future.
And there you have it, what the Tennessee Titans offense might look like in the 2014-15 NFL season. Thanks for reading. Tune in later this week as I unveil my projection on who will start on defense for the Titans in 2014.