Top 5 Takeaways from Tennessee Titans 2021 draft class

Caleb Farley, Tennessee Titans (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Caleb Farley, Tennessee Titans (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /
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Bud Dupree #48, Pittsburgh Steelers (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Bud Dupree #48, Pittsburgh Steelers (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /

The Tennessee Titans think they fixed their biggest issue in free agency

Recent history hasn’t been kind to Titans fans that are craving a pass rush. Finding a season where Tennessee ranked in the top half of the NFL in pressure rate means you would need to travel back all the way to 2017 when edge rushers Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan led the team with 7.5 sacks and seven sacks respectively.

That year, the Titans tied for fifth for the most total sacks in the league with 43 and got all but 1.5 of those quarterback takedowns from players who are no longer on the roster.

Since that 2017 season, the Titans pass-rush has alternated between below average at best, to a detriment to the team at worst. Even in 2018, when Tennessee finished third in the league in points allowed and eighth in yards given up, the team finished just 19th in pressure rate despite blitzing on 29.8 percent of their defensive snaps, the ninth most in the NFL.

The Titans’ pass-rush bottomed out in 2020. Actually, it bottomed out, crashed directly through rock bottom, and drew up a $15 million Jadaveon Clowney contract along the way. The team finished third-worst in the league in total sacks with just 19 in 16 games. They finished third-worst in the league in quarterback hurry rate at 7.2 percent, and they finished second-worst in the league in pressure rate at just 17.6 percent.

The Tennessee pass rush hasn’t been a bright spot in a few seasons, but it hasn’t been this bad in a long time. Still, the Titans waited until the fourth round of the draft to address the issue, selecting Rashad Weaver out of Pitt.

Earlier in the offseason, Jon Robinson handed out an $85 million contract to former Steelers’ first-round pick Bud Dupree. He’s coming off a nice year with eight sacks in 11 games for Pittsburgh’s top-five defense. To bring some juice to the interior, Tennessee also brought in Denico Autry from the Indianapolis Colts who’s coming off a 7.5-sack season of his own.

Whether these players pan out for Tennessee is a question everyone’s hoping gets answered with a yes. Dupree’s career as a sack artist is relatively short. He’s only reached first-round level production in Pittsburgh once Maybe the recent success is a sign of things to come for the new Titan. Still, either way, Robinson and Vrabel are putting their absolute faith in his newfound skill.