PFF has a bunch of interesting stats about the Tennessee Titans.
If you follow Pro Football Focus, or Titan Sized, on twitter, then you’ve seen plenty of interesting statistics about NFL teams and players throughout the offseason. The Tennessee Titans have gotten their fair share of love from the analytical football site, and odds are that you’ve encountered a good amount of those noteworthy tidbits.
But if you haven’t, we’re here to compile them into one article. Let’s take a look at which Titans players were better or worse, or will be better or worse, than we expected.
Walker might be heading into his age 33 season, but the man is still an upper echelon tight end in the league. Over the last three seasons, Walker is the only tight end in the entire NFL to record 450 or more receiving yards out of the slot in each season. His ranks in terms of yards out of the slot for the position over the last three years have been second, first and fourth, respectively. He was no slouch in 2013 either, when he ranked 10th. Jonnu Smith was drafted to eventually replace Walker, but he has shown no signs of slowing down in his early 30s.
Mariota is the greatest quarterback to ever live, but just for fun, he decided to outdo every other quarterback in terms of improving his deep ball from one year to the next. In reality, it was pretty clear that Mariota had a much better feel throwing deep in his second year. Off the top of my head, I remember him hitting Rishard Matthews and Kendall Wright twice each on beautiful bombs, and Tajae Sharpe on a precise long touchdown. Mariota was great last year and the sky is the limit.
The Titans’ two wide receiver draft picks are paired together here because they were the two most efficient wide receivers in college football last year, at least in terms of yards per route run. Taylor led the nation in 2016, with Davis the runner-up. Davis edged out Taylor in yards per route run out of the slot though, with Taylor coming in second. What does this tell us for the future? Both receivers are adept at playing inside and outside, and will be able to create mismatches and allow versatility in play calls.
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Byard enjoyed an impressive first season in Nashville, and was PFF’s third-ranked rookie safety in 2016. While most of Byard’s good grade could be attributed to his solid work in run defense, where he was used more than anticipated, his work in coverage was equally as impressive. Byard allowed the second-fewest yards per coverage snap by a rookie safety during the PFF era (since 2006). Byard is in line for a big sophomore season, as he’s expected to take on even more responsibility as a free (more free) safety.
The issue with Williamson has never been his play in run support. He’s very good at dissecting run plays and making tackles, highlighted by him making the highest percentage of run stops of any linebacker in 2016. He’s that good when it comes to stopping the run game. His question marks are squarely in coverage. Tight ends and running backs have field days against him, and other Titans linebackers. If Williamson can improve in that area, he can become one of the best inside linebackers in all of football.
To cover (pun) for Williamson’s deficiencies in the passing game, the Titans drafted Brown, who will come in and contribute from day one. Brown earned the third-best coverage grade of any college linebacker in 2016. Slightly undersized at linebacker, Brown moves like a strong safety in coverage and has good instincts when playing the ball. He will be tasked with covering running backs and tight ends, and even some slot receivers. The Titans will welcome his coverage ability at the linebacker position.