Ranking the Tennessee Titans needs: #4 offensive line

CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 27: Akiem Hicks
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 27: Akiem Hicks /

A look at one of the Tennessee Titans more overrated needs.

There is a lot of talk about how the Tennessee Titans need a guard, and while that is true I just absolutely can not see them spending a 1st or 2nd round pick on a guy that is strictly an interior OL.

There are a lot of people who want to get cute in mock drafts and give the Titans a center or guard because he is the “best player available” and now Tennessee would have a dominant line. Makes sense right? No.

For one thing, the Titans are switching to a ZBS (zone blocking scheme) which historically minimizes the importance of the interior OL. If you can reach one gap over (all of the current Titans OL can including Brian Schwenke and Corey Levin) then you are good.

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The hardest thing for the OL to do in a ZBS is for the playside tackle to reach the outside shoulder of the EDGE and hook him to seal the edge. Outside of that the system is pretty simple if you can work in tandem with the other OL.

Let me give you a great example. If you are a fan who knows a lot about the Titans division and some of the history you should remember Gary Kubiak’s time with the Houston Texans. That has a LOT of the same principles that we will see from Matt LaFleur’s offense next year in Tennessee.

They had a center for a long time name Chris Myers who got a lot of credit. In fact, he was a two-time Pro-Bowler. However he was drafted as a 6th rounder by the Broncos in 2005.

Ok sure, maybe he was a draft steal right? Nope. The Broncos had him for three years and then moved him to the Texans for a 6th round pick. If he was that great then he would have been a lot harder to trade for and he would have commanded a bigger price tag.

If you are smart and an above average athlete you have all the tools you need to be a great IOL in this scheme.

Current status of the position

The Titans are set at one guard spot and at center thanks to Quinton Spain and Ben Jones respectively. While Spain struggled some with injuries early in the year, he has shown that he can be a very good offensive lineman and he is an above average athlete.

Not only is Ben Jones a good center (if a bit undersized) but he is a fun guy to be around and he is a bonding agent in that locker room. He is part of the glue that makes this offensive line a “unit” and not a collection of guys.

Behind them they have two solid fringe starters in Brian Schwenke and Corey Levin. I am high on Levin because he has all the athleticism you could want in a guard and he had some nice games in his long college career including one vs Alabama.

The depth is more than find on the interior of this OL.

Cap situation

Right now the most “expensive” IOL the Titans have is Ben Jones. Even then, Jones is the 14th highest paid center in the NFL with guys like J.C. Tretter, Justin Britt and Corey Linsley all getting paid more than he is.

Spain and Levin are still on their rookie contracts, while Schwenke and Josh Kline are on expiring contracts.

What should they do?

Sign Josh Sitton. They should do it now. I don’t know if he is cut or if the Bears are declining his option and he won’t be available until later, but either way the first day they can contact him they need to fly him in for a visit.

Sitton can play either guard spot and he is a ZBS veteran that can help everyone get on the same page in their first year in the scheme.

If he is too expensive, then the Titans are probably also out on Andrew Norwell from the Panthers.

A guy like Justin Pugh could make sense depending on his market, and if they wanted to get cute the Titans could go after Jonathan Cooper who has all the tools to be a good ZBS guard, but who has the stink of bust on him after being a top-10 pick in that terrible Chance Warmack draft class.

Jack Mewhort is a guy I liked a lot coming out of college, but he has had his ups and downs on that Indianapolis Colts OL. Still, he has been versatile and athleticism shouldn’t be an issue for him.

In the draft I just don’t know who I would target. Quinton Nelson has bust written all over him (when was the last time you saw a guard get this much hype pre draft and then actually live up to it) and he won’t be there when they pick anyway.

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I have argued that the only 1st round OL I would take is Isaiah Wynn because I think he can have a Cordy Glenn-like career. Sloppy, but effective OT who would be really good at guard. Other than that I wouldn’t even look at IOL until round 4 or later unless it was just a steal in terms of value and if there were no other players I liked on the board.

I think the Titans would be better off letting Levin step in and start rather than paying big money for anyone other than Josh Sitton. He would be cheap and he should have a year of familiarity with the Titans OL and the NFL in general.

This was always supposed to be a redshirt year for him as he got used to the level of competition, now he can step in and contribute to this team much like Aaron Wallace was going to this year before he got hurt.