Next up in the grading system for the 2016 season is the cornerback unit.
On to the other half of the Tennessee Titans secondary after we graded the safeties, we now take a look at the cornerbacks. This unit had an abysmal 2016 season and were to blame for the Titans sporting one of the league’s worst pass defense last year. Change will be coming (and has already come) for 2017.
Arguably J Mac’s worst season from an effectiveness standpoint, McCourty’s play was brought down by the ineffectiveness of the whole secondary. He wasn’t terrible, but we’ve come to expect a really good performance week in and week out from McCourty. That didn’t happen this year, and he got torched at an uncomfortable rate. That said, he was still the second best corner on the team and picked off two passes while defending 12 passes. 2017 could very well be his last year in Tennessee, but he still has at least one good year left in his legs to give the team.
Sims was legitimately the best corner on the team in 2016. It took a while for Sims to get the amount of playing time he deserved, but he showed his worth once Cox and Blake fell by the wayside. A long, physical corner, he displayed great technique on several occasions and didn’t get beat nearly as often as his counterparts. His interception of Alex Smith in the end zone was crucial in one of the most memorable Titans wins in quite some time. Sims has a lot of tools to work with, and he’ll go into 2017 with a leg up on all the other Titans corners from the 2016 season.
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McCain’s season was a tale of two halves. He was not good at all through the first half of season, but became a reliable slot corner as the season progressed. He isn’t flashy, fast, or big, but he did his job decently enough and made enough stops to be competent. He picked off two passes and defended 10 passes. The Titans could do worse at slot corner in 2017, but they’ll probably still try to upgrade that position anyway.
Cox was picked on so much throughout the season and was so poor that he was cut mid-season. An indictment on the entirety of the Titans secondary, Cox ended up as the Titans’ interceptions leader despite playing in just 11 games. Cox would get a failing grade if not for a few important interceptions, with the game-sealing one against the Detroit Lions in particular.
Antwon “Valentino” Blake
Not even a last-minute name change could save Blake from a dwindling NFL career. A liability during his time with the Pittsburgh Steelers, his former defensive coordinator there, Dick LeBeau, brought him to Tennessee. Blake responded with an atrocious display of coverage ability, horrid tackling, and poor awareness. Blake has signed with the New York Giants after just one year with the Titans.
“Mr. Irrelevant” from the 2016 draft, Reed was only used in four games throughout the season and contributed primarily on special teams in those appearances. This was kind of a red shirt year for Reed, but he still has a good amount of potential and could fight for playing time beginning in 2017.