Despite Tennessee Titans HC Mike Vrabel hating it, the NFL requires that all 32 teams release a depth chart before their first preseason game.
That depth chart was released on Monday morning.
For a while, people would overreact to the rankings, but all of the Titans’ success has earned this team the benefit of the doubt on some of the things that don’t really matter that much.
Recently one of the more valid concerns was that the “starters” listed would indicate that the Titans were going to run a 3-4 on defense (like when Brent Urban was listed as a starter and Adoree Jackson was listed as a backup here) or 3WR sets on offense despite what fans thought they knew about the team.
For the most part, those concerns have calmed down because the Titans have become a team that can show several different looks with different starting combinations, specifically on defense. Vrabel and company have always been multiple on defense and I would say that they really don’t have a “base” defense because everything is situational to this coaching staff.
For example, the Titans will frequently use a strange look that has three defensive tackles and only one EDGE (Harold Landry) on the line of scrimmage. They don’t do it every play, but they do it enough to notice it on early downs.
If that group succeeds, then it is highly likely that Shane Bowen will take out one of those defensive linemen and send in Bud Dupree, Denico Autry, Rashad Weaver, or Ola Adeniyi.
All of that has to do with the matchups on a week-to-week basis, down and distance, etc. but when it is just names on a page people forget that context and start to have questions.
Even with all of that, there is one interesting thing to take away from this depth chart.
Tennessee Titans rookies are earning serious respect
Typically Mike Vrabel buries rookies on the depth chart throughout the preseason. It isn’t a surprise to see rookies listed as third and fourth stringers even though they are going to ultimately make the team and play a fair amount.
However, that has not been the case this year and it is nice to see a depth chart that actually reflects that.
Treylon Burks and Kyle Philips are rightfully listed as the WR3 and WR4 ahead of older players like Racey McMath, Dez Fitzpatrick, Cody Hollister, and Mason Kinsey. Burks has been as dominant as you could hope for, and Philips is so shifty that he has forced the Tennessee Titans to cover him with Kevin Byard in one-on-ones.
Nicholas Petit-Frere is listed as a “co-starter” with Dillon Radunz at right tackle. We all know that Radunz is going to be the starter, but what that tells me is that they think that he is a swing tackle and that they have been impressed by his work.
A more believable “co-starter” is Roger McCreary who is sharing a spot with Caleb Farley. Again, I don’t think this indicates a position battle as much as it indicates a sub-package player. Elijah Molden hasn’t practiced in a little over a week, and while I expect that it is mostly precautionary, McCreary is making every practice count.
I don’t know if he will be the nickel corner, but until Molden is back on the field it seems like the team is going to prepare for McCreary to be a starter.
Chig Okonkwo is listed as the TE3, though I fully expect him to be a weapon in this offense sooner rather than later.
The Tennessee Titans have always made their rookies earn playing time, and this year isn’t any different. What is different, is how quickly this class seems to have adapted to the NFL and how well they have all done.
It is hard to say whether this class looks like the best class that Tennessee Titans GM Jon Robinson has ever had because he drafted multiple All-Pro caliber players in 2016 and 2019, but this class is off to an outstanding start.