The offensive line is one of the most under appreciated positions in sports. Luckily for Tennessee, they have one of the best offensive lines in football. Lately, there has been a lot of talk about how great the Dallas Cowboys’ offensive line is and how that seems to be the recipe for success. The Cowboys look like the best team in football (as long as they do not play the Giants).
Last year, the Titans probably had one of the worst offensive lines in football, but this year they are in the top 3. What has changed?
Well, first of all the only real holdover from last season is Taylor Lewan, who is the heart and soul of this revitalized offensive front. Lewan was the 11th pick in the 2014 draft for the Titans out of Michigan. Throughout his time in Tennessee, Lewan has been recognized for his grit on the field. He is known as the tough leader of the Titans’ offensive line. With all the good that Lewan has brought, he has had some issues with discipline on the field. Lewan is not afraid to express his anger with other players on the field and that grit can get him in trouble, but it also shows the desire he has to play the game.
The other holdover from last season is Quinton Spain. Spain is probably the most unlikely holdover from last year’s squad, but he finished the season as the starter. Being undrafted out of West Virginia, Spain signed with the Titans last year and has impressed as a physical lineman this year. The lanes that are opened up by Spain and the rest of the offensive line have helped to revive the career of Demarco Murray after a down year in Philadelphia.
Next going down the line are three newcomers to Tennessee. First is starting center Ben Jones. Jones is no stranger to the NFL or the AFC South. After being drafted in the fourth round of the 2012 NFL draft, Jones spent four seasons in Houston with the Texans. During that time, he started 43 games out of the 64 games he was a part of. That means that Jones has played in every game since he was drafted. The past two years, he started every game for the Texans and has been an excellent addition to the Titans offensive line on a four year contract. He brings a veteran presence that this line was lacking last year. Jones has been around the game for a while and has proven to be a consistent figure in front of Marcus Mariota.
Moving down the line, another newcomer to Tennessee is Josh Kline. This signing was from General Manager Jon Robinson’s roots. Kline was claimed off waivers from the New England Patriots on September 8th of this year. Robinson worked in the New England Patriots organization from 2002-2013 and had a strong history of player scouting. He really found a diamond in the rough with this move. Kline has started since he was activated against the Raiders in week 3.
Finally, The last piece to the offensive line puzzle in Nashville is rookie Jack Conklin. The 22 year old has fit in nicely since being drafted 8th overall out of Michigan State. It’s amazing Conklin and Lewan even agreed to play on the same line based on where they went to college. I guess it’s better to have 3 large guys between them. Conklin has anchored the right side of the line and has started every game this season for the Titans. He is young and tough, which is a great recipe for an offensive lineman.
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Overall, this line has played spectacular as of late. Mariota has more time in the pocket and you could fit a truck through the holes being opened up for the running game. There is no wonder why Murray is having a career resurgence: the offensive line is spectacular. This core group of linemen have the makings to be a great line for years to come. The oldest member of the line is Jones at 27, which means that they all have a real opportunity to mesh and build a group that will continue to protect Marcus Mariota. The Titans are building big things and it is exciting to watch, even if they do not get enough credit for it.