Tennessee Titans: 2015 All Pro Candidates
By P. L. Colter
With training camp set to start later this week, the Tennessee Titans can finally put to bed the train wreck that was the 2014 season. New schemes, erratic quarterback play, injuries, and a host of other bad breaks led to the worst season in the history of the franchise.
By season’s end, there was plenty of blame to go around…but two players should be absolved…
Defensive tackle Jurrell Casey and tight end Delanie Walker.
Tennessee’s record last year overshadowed their performances, but Casey and Walker are the real deal. In fact, both should be considered early candidates for this year’s coveted All Pro team.
Jurrell Casey has proven to be one of the best up and coming defensive tackles in the league, leading the NFL in tackles at that position last year with 68. Over the past two seasons, Casey has more tackles (123) than last year’s first team All Pro tackles Marcell Dareus (119) and Ndamukong Suh (102).
Casey was equally effective getting to the quarterback in that span. His 15.5 sacks are second only to Dareus’ 17.5, and ahead of Suh’s 14. And he did that with two completely different defensive schemes in 2013 and 2014.
A Pro Bowler in 2013, Casey was the only Titans player to make the NFL Network’s Top 100 players for 2015. Look for Casey to improve in year two of the 3-4 scheme, and with Dick LeBeau now at the helm, he’s poised for a potential All Pro season.
Dec 14, 2014; Nashville, TN, USA; Tennessee Titans tight end Delanie Walker ((82) carries the ball against the New York Jets during the last play of the second half at LP Field. The Jets beat the Titans 16-11. Mandatory Credit: Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports
Tight end Delanie Walker was a Top 100 snub. Not only did he lead the Titans in targets, receptions, and yards last year…but he finished the season as a top 5 tight end in targets, yards, and yards per catch.
And he did so while receiving passes from the likes of Jake Locker, Charlie Whitehurst, and rookie Zach Mettenberger last season.
Not exactly Tom Brady lookalikes.
With the uncertain status of several high profile tight ends, Walker could find himself leading the pack by season’s end.
Reigning All Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski could be without his Hall of Fame qb for the first month of the season. San Diego’s Antonio Gates will miss the first month of the season due to a suspension. Julius Thomas goes from the Broncos high powered offense…to the Jaguars’ anaemic one. And newly acquired Seattle tight end Jimmy Graham goes from being the primary option of the Saints’ pass happy offense, to an unknown role in the Seahawks’ run first offense.
If rookie qb Marcus Mariota watched any film from last season, then he already knows that Walker has safety blanket written all over him. Walker could see an up-tick in each of the above mentioned categories this year as Mariota’s go-to guy, and find himself right in the mix for All Pro tight end by season’s end.
Next: Tennessee Titans: Six must wins in the 2015 season