Position Spotlight: Linebackers
As we head into the 2016 season, the Titans linebacking core appears to be one of the most established positions, filled with productive veterans as well as talented young players.
In the Dick Lebau, 3-4 Blitz heavy scheme, a heavy reliability on linebackers is a necessity.
Who We Got
Williamson led the Titans with 102 total tackles in 2015. At only age 24, Williamson is entering his third season in the league but has already proven to be one of the most productive and dynamic players for the Titans.
The veteran compliment to Williamson at the inside linebacker position, Woodyard had a productive 2015 season with 87 tackles, although found himself thriving in rushing the quarterback. Woodyard had 5 sacks in 2015, the most since his breakout year in 2012 when he had 5.5 sacks and 117 tackles with Denver.
Other than quarterback Marcus Mariota, Orakpo shouldered the most buzz and questions heading into 2015. Orakpo answered many doubts by staying healthy throughout the whole season and playing well. Unlike in Washington, Orakpo was forced into more than just rushing the quarterback on a porous Tennessee defense, being relied upon in run stoppage and tackling. Orakpo was still the Titans best edge rusher, finishing with a nice bounce back number of 7 sacks.
A big question for Tennessee will be how Morgan bounces back after a disappointing year. At age 27, Morgan still has life in his step but the key will be to avoid injury. Morgan missed 6 games in 2015 due to injury. The veteran out of Georgia Tech managed 4.5 sacks on the year and will hold a major role in mentoring rookie Kevin Dodd.
An under the radar free agent signing, Spence is a quality backup behind Wesley Woodyard. Defensive coordinator Dick Lebau can never have enough linebackers and especially one’s who know his system. Spence has experience playing in complex coverage’s and in the playoffs for the Steelers. His pedigree and durability fit the new culture in Nashville.
Guy to Watch Out for: Aaron Wallace
The Titans drafted Wallace in the seventh round with the 222nd pick. Wallace was a one-year starter at UCLA, playing alongside fellow draftees Myles Jack and Kenny Clark. Wallace comes from a great football blood line with his father, Aaron Wallace a former 8 year linebacker for the Los Angeles and Oakland Raiders.
Wallace has a special burst and finish at times, showing the ability to demolish quarterbacks. However, his inexperience of snaps in college and his unreliability in coverage situations will most likely limit his opportunities. Wallace could be the perfect experiment for Dick Lebau’s heavy blitz packages as an outside linebackers. Feedback about his effort to get better and learn through rookie mini camp has been evident.
Best Case Scenario: Wallace makes the roster as a second or third string linebacker.
Worst Case: Practice squad or released by training camp.