The Tennessee Titans have built an offensive line worthy of blocking for the great Derrick Henry in past years. In fact, their O-line remains one of the biggest reasons Henry continues to record monster numbers every season.
Heading into 2021, however, the Titans’ O-line has some issues that need to be fixed before the start of the regular season. For one, head coach Mike Vrabel still hasn’t named a starter at right tackle or given a timeline for doing so.
David Quessenberry, Ty Sambrailo, and Kendall Lamm were listed as co-starters (in that order) on the Titans’ depth chart, with rookie Dillon Radunz potentially becoming the Titans’ right tackle of the future. For now, Radunz will likely play backup right guard behind Rodger Saffold.
Radunz was recently named as Tennessee’s X-factor going into 2021, which puts plenty of pressure on the North Dakota State product to perform this season.
But the other right tackle options on the O-line have barely gotten any recognition and will be the Titans’ weakest link heading into Game 1. PFF currently has the Tennessee Titans’ offensive line ranked 15th in the league and gave the unit a pass-blocking grade of 59.4 in 2020.
We think PFF may have been a tad harsh with their grade given that the Titans allowed 25 sacks (tied for sixth-fewest) in the NFL last season. Plus, Derrick Henry was still able to run for 2,000 yards in 2020, so the O-line is clearly doing something right.
Might the Tennessee Titans’ O-line let the team down this season?
Even if PFF may have gotten the minutiae wrong, they’re still pointing toward an area of much-needed improvement for Tennessee. The aforementioned linemen competing for the right tackle position each has his strengths and weaknesses, but the fact that Vrabel hasn’t chosen the starter yet should be very, very concerning.
Quessenberry beat cancer to stay in the league, but without sounding too corny, his fight isn’t over. He played in 12 games last year, starting the final six when Sambrailo sat out due to injury, and allowed three sacks to earn a PFF grade of 61.7.
Sambrailo has similar plug-and-play experience in Tennessee’s O-line when he replaced Taylor Lewan at left tackle in 2020 before getting hurt himself. He played in 10 games last year, allowing four sacks and earning a PFF grade of 65.6.
Average Quessenberry’s and Sambrailo’s 2020 grades together and you still get…a failing right tackle option.
Those two have more chance of breaking into the starting lineup than Lamm, who was signed as a free agent this offseason but spent most of the preseason injured on the bench. Lamm is the only one of the three to have started double-digit games as a tackle, though.
Aside from the looming question mark at right tackle, the Titans do have some small victories to celebrate: Ben Jones and Nate Davis were recently activated from the COVID-19 list this week, and Taylor Lewan and Rodger Saffold should hold down the left side of the fort just fine. The only probably is Jones and Davis haven’t practiced in a while. Might that lead to some issues, or will the rest do them some good?
Hopefully, right tackle is the only position of concern this season. Vrabel may treat the situation as a revolving door, trying out different starters in right tackle every week, but you don’t have to be a football genius to know that will likely hurt team morale and cohesiveness as the season progresses.
In a perfect world, one of the Titans’ right tackle options will step up in Week 1 and solidify his starting spot on the roster. If none of them prove to be consistently reliable, the O-line — and the entire Tennessee offense – will suffer the consequences.