Pro Football Focus believes Tennessee Titans right tackle Dennis Kelly will struggle in his transition to the left side for the first four games.
We all know Tennessee Titans right tackle Dennis Kelly played well on the right side last season, but can he make the move to the left side in place of the suspended Taylor Lewan successfully?
Pro Football Focus is not so optimistic that he can do a good job based on his past grades. As Thomas Frank Carr of PFF notes, Kelly’s past overall grade on the right side is vastly better than his grade on the left.
In 187 career snaps with the Titans at left tackle, Kelly’s overall grade is a 44.7. He posted pass- and run-blocking grades of 53.0 and 29.7, respectively. That’s compared to his numbers at right tackle, of which he’s earned a 72.9 overall grade, with pass- and run-blocking marks of 65.2 and 75.8, respectively, in 1,140 snaps.
On the surface, this looks like a major concern because the Titans have a tough slate of pass-rushers in the first four games. There is a silver lining to these grades, though.
The first thing you’ll notice is the vastly different sample sizes in the two. Obviously Kelly’s grades on the left side aren’t encouraging, however he did play far fewer snaps there than on the right while with Tennessee.
What’s also important to note is that the last time Kelly filled in for Lewan at left tackle was in two games back in 2017, as Carr wrote in his article.
The last time that Kelly was asked to fill in for Lewan was in 2017 — Week 5 against Miami and Week 14 against Arizona. Kelly surrendered seven pressures in those two games combined and had a pass-blocking grade of 41.0 and 52.5, respectively. In fact, Kelly has surrendered two or more pressures in every game in which he played at least 20 snaps at left tackle.
Those games were before Kelly really came out of his shell in 2018 when he was ranked as the No. 18 tackle in the NFL, per PFF. Of course, that was in place of Jack Conklin.
Bottom line: take these numbers with a grain of salt. Kelly is vastly improved from what he was a few years ago, and despite there being a pretty big difference between right and left tackle, Kelly should perform better than PFF’s numbers would indicate.
With that said, he isn’t Dad, who is an elite left tackle in the league and has been for a few years now. Nobody can replace the caliber of player that Lewan is, but the Titans will be better off than most teams in this same situation would be with Dennis Kelly filling the void.