Jon Robinson added eight new Titans via the draft and another nine rookies as undrafted free agents over the weekend (the UDFAs have yet to be confirmed by the team) so now seems like a good time to check in on the overall state of the Titans roster. Below is a list of the new additions:
Round 1, Pick 22 Overall: CB Caleb Farley
Round 2, Pick 53 Overall: OL Dillon Radunz
Round 3, Pick 92 Overall: LB Monty Rice
Round 3, Pick 100 Overall: DB Elijah Molden
Round 4, Pick 109 Overall: WR Dez Fitzpatrick
Round 4, Pick 135 Overall: EDGE Rashad Weaver
Round 6, Pick 205 Overall: WR Racey McMath
Round 6, Pick 215 Overall: S Brady Breeze
UDFA TE Briley Moore
UDFA K Blake Haubeil
UDFA OL Chandon Herring
UDFA G Cole Banwart
UDFA DL Justus Reed
UDFA TE Miller Forristall
UDFA DL Naquan Jones
UDFA FB Tory Carter
UDFA P James Smith
That would bring the Titans to 89 total players on the roster, leaving just one open spot that will likely be filled prior to training camp (though the team can always release a player or two to make room for other additions obviously). Below is my best guess at what a depth chart might look like if camp opened today.
Note: Lines read left to right then down for positions with multiple lines. For example, I’ve got the tight ends in order going Firkser, Swaim, Hudson, Moore, Hesse, Pinkney, Forristall.
|Role||First Team||Second Team||Third Team||Fourth Team|
|QB||Ryan Tannehill||Logan Woodside||DeShone Kizer|
|RB||Derrick Henry||Darrynton Evans||Jeremy McNichols|
|FB||Khari Blasingame||Tory Carter|
|TE||Anthony Firkser||Geoff Swaim||Tommy Hudson||Briley Moore|
|Parker Hesse||Jared Pinkney||Miller Forristall|
|WR||A.J. Brown||Nick Westbrook-Ikhine||Cody Hollister||Racey McMath|
|WR||Josh Reynolds||Dez Fitzpatrick||Marcus Johnson||Fred Brown|
|Slot WR||Cameron Batson||Rashard Davis||Chester Rogers||Mason Kinsey|
|LT||Taylor Lewan||Ty Sambrailo||David Quessenberry||Anthony McKinney|
|LG||Rodger Saffold||Aaron Brewer||Cole Banwart|
|C||Ben Jones||Daniel Munyer|
|RG||Nate Davis||Chandon Herring|
|RT||Kendall Lamm||Dillon Radunz||Elijah Nkansah||Brandon Kemp|
|DE||Denico Autry||Jullian Taylor|
|DT||Jeffery Simmons||Larrell Murchison||Bruce Hector|
|NT||Teair Tart||Daylon Mack||Woodrow Hamilton||Naquon Jones|
|OLB||Harold Landry||Derick Roberson||Wyatt Ray||Davin Bellamy|
|ILB||Jayon Brown||David Long Jr.||B.J. Bello|
|ILB||Rashaan Evans||Monty Rice||Jan Johnson|
|OLB||Bud Dupree||Rashad Weaver||Ola Adeniyi||Tuzar Skipper|
|CB||Janoris Jenkins||Kristian Fulton||Breon Borders||Chris Jackson|
|S||Kevin Byard||Mattias Farley||Maurice Smith|
|S||Amani Hooker||Dane Cruikshank||Brady Breeze|
|CB||Caleb Farley||Elijah Molden||Kevin Johnson||Kareem Orr|
|K||Tucker McCann||Blake Haubeil|
|P||Brett Kern||James Smith|
|LS||Morgan Cox||Matt Orzech|
A couple notes on the depth chart above. I have the base defense listed, but since NFL teams are only in base personnel roughly 30% of snaps nowadays, it’s worth noting that I’d have Jenkins, Farley, and Fulton — with Fulton likely in the slot — as the three starting corners in the Titans nickel package.
Also, I gave the edge to veterans at spots where there is likely to be competition. For example, I certainly think there is a chance that Radunz beats out Lamm at right tackle in camp, but I’d imagine that if camp opened today, Lamm — or maybe even Sambrailo — gets the first snap with the ones.
With that, let’s take a quick peek through the roster to see which spots are shaping up as interesting positions to watch when training camp opens in July.
The Titans seem pretty comfortable with Logan Woodside as Ryan Tannehill’s backup, though I wouldn’t totally rule out the idea that former second round pick DeShone Kizer could push Woodside in camp and preseason with a strong performance. Kizer joined the Titans practice squad late last year and was brought back on a futures contract at the end of the season.
One interesting note on Kizer… his quarterback rating while using play action at Notre Dame was tops in the nation, but that rating dropped substantially without the use of play action. Could Tennessee’s play action-heavy attack help unlock his immense physical traits? I’d still call Woodside the heavy favorite to enter the season as QB2, but it wouldn’t surprise me if Kizer provided some real competition.
Obviously, reigning Offensive Player of the Year Derrick Henry tops this group, but I’m most interested in 2020 third round pick Darrynton Evans for camp purposes. Last season when Peter King visited Titans camp, he left with this nugget regarding Evans:
The most interesting addition might actually be third-round offensive weapon Darrynton Evans of Appalachian State. He hasn’t practiced in a week because of an unspecified injury, but if he gets right, and if put in the hands and offensive brain of Arthur Smith, Evans, the 93rd pick in the 2020 draft, could be one of the most interesting rookies in the NFL this year. As someone close to the Titans told me the other day: “Not ‘could be.’ It’s ‘will be.’ Darrynton Evans has a chance to be a poor man’s Alvin Kamara.” After the failed Dion Lewis experiment as an all-purpose back, the Titans hope that Evans is the changeup back not to take touches away from Derrick Henry (20.1 touches per game in the regular season) but to be used all over the formation. Like Kamara. In a Smith game plan, Evans could be dangerous.NBC Sports Peter King
That “unspecific injury” turned out to be a hamstring strain that cost Evans most of training camp and the first two games of the regular season. He re-aggravated that injury in Week 5 and didn’t return until late in the season, preventing him from ever realizing the potential that King described above. Given the departures of Corey Davis, Jonnu Smith, and Adam Humphries, the Titans could get a huge boost if Evans can become an offensive playmaker in year two. His electric speed was on display in the limited touches he got in 2020.
Also… I like Khari Blasingame, but it wouldn’t totally shock me if former LSU fullback Tory Carter pushed him for his job.
Ahh yes, the position that keeps Titans fans up at night. Corey Davis signed a big free agent contract with the Jets and Adam Humphries was released in a cap clearing move after two injury-ridden seasons. Those two combined to contribute an average of 1,094 yards and 5.5 touchdowns per season over the past two years.
That’s not an insurmountable amount of lost production, especially when you consider the fact that A.J. Brown is likely to continue his ascent among the NFL’s elite wide receivers, but Tennessee hasn’t really added much outside help to plug that gap to this point. Josh Reynolds was signed from the Rams on a cheap one-year contract and the team selected Louisville receiver Dez Fitzpatrick in the fourth round last weekend, but it’s hard to really feel great about those two rising to the level that Humphries and — more critically — Davis provided.
I still think the Titans will be making at least one more move at this position before camp starts — and I broke down a few of the potential options they could be looking at here — but if they go to camp with this group it’ll be the most heavily scrutinized position on the roster alongside tight end.
You would expect Reynolds to be installed as the WR2 initially, but it wouldn’t be terribly surprising if Dez Fitzpatrick pushed him for the starting Z-receiver spot opposite A.J. Brown. Both Reynolds and Fitzpatrick have experience playing in the slot so it’ll be interesting to see if either of those guys get significant reps inside or if they’re put in direct competition with each other for the Z. Nick Westbrook-Ikhine could also get in the mix here.
In the slot, you’d figure Cameron Batson would get the first crack at taking that role. The former UDFA has been with the team for three years (though he missed all of 2019 with an injury) and played 130 snaps in the slot last season, taking over for Humphries as the team’s primary slot receiver from Week 9 on. The offense continued to produce at a high level with Batson in the lineup despite the speedy receiver not putting up big numbers himself (just 12 catches for 100 yards and one touchdown). Batson’s competition figures to be Rashard Davis, Chester Rogers, and Mason Kinsey. Marcus Johnson could also be involved here, as could one of the outside receivers mentioned above.
Like wide receiver, this is another spot that seems to be awfully thin for the Titans. Anthony Firkser has been a very good situational player for the team for the last three seasons and was rewarded with a one-year, $3-million contract extension this offseason. However, he’s never played more than 32% of offensive snaps largely because he’s not a high quality blocker in the run game. Geoff Swaim is the more traditional inline blocking tight end, but doesn’t offer a ton of pass catching chops (just 83 yards receiving last year) and has never topped a 48% snap count.
Behind those two, the Titans have five tight ends that have never played a snap in the NFL: Tommy Hudson, Parker Hesse, Jared Pinkney, Briley Moore, and Miller Forristall. It wouldn’t surprise me if one of these guys ended up making the roster out of camp. My bet would be on either Hudson — a 2020 UDFA who is known to be a strong blocker — or Moore, who was one of the more highly ranked UDFAs to be added by the team after the last draft.
I think another shoe drops here. Maybe it’s an exciting name like O.J. Howard or Zach Ertz. Maybe it’s a non-exciting name like MyCole Pruitt. Maybe it’s a comeback for Delanie Walker. But it’s just hard to see the Titans going to camp with just the seven tight ends currently on the team.
If the Titans don’t make an addition, the Hudson-Hesse-Pinkney-Moore-Forristall battle for the last roster spot or two at this position will be one of the most interesting battles to watch in camp.
The headliner will be the battle at the right tackle spot. We thought we were getting a competition for this position last offseason between Dennis Kelly and Isaiah Wilson, but the battle never materialized due to Wilson’s self-destructive behavior. This year, the contestants will be free agent signee Kendall Lamm, returning swing tackle Ty Sambrailo, and second round pick Dillon Radunz. Obviously, the Titans would love to see Radunz grab this job and run with it, but Lamm and Sambrailo both have more than a full season’s worth of NFL starts under their belts and won’t be total pushovers for the rookie from North Dakota State.
The other interesting battle will be for the backup interior offensive line positions. Aaron Brewer returns and figures to be the favorite to serve as the top backup inside, but Daniel Munyer and rookie UDFA Chandon Herring will both likely get looks there. Also, the Titans have a surplus of tackles on the roster and several of them have experience kicking inside to play guard . Tennessee usually keeps at least nine offensive lineman. It wouldn’t surprise me if we saw the four backup spots dominated by tackles who can kick inside to guard.
Jeffery Simmons and Denico Autry are locks to be the top two players in the defensive line rotation. The big question here is who gets the snaps at nose tackle in the Titans base 3-4 front and how the snaps are distributed among the backups.
The Cowboys just released former Titans nose tackle Antwaun Woods and he’d be a phenomenal fit for that role, but if the Titans stick with the players currently on the roster, I’d peg Teair Tart as the favorite to take the nose tackle snaps and be the third defensive lineman in the rotation behind Simmons and Autry.
The competition for the final roster spot or two would figure to be led by 2020 fifth round pick Larrell Murchison, but Jullian Taylor is an interesting talent that was added this offseason as well.
You’d figure Dupree and Landry to be the clear starters with Rashad Weaver likely slotting in as the top backup (assuming he’s not suspended or released in relation to his recent assault charges). My guess is free agent addition Ola Odeniyi will make the roster thanks to his high level special teams play and that Derick Roberson has a leg up to be Harold Landry’s primary backup (with Weaver behind Dupree).
It wouldn’t shock me if the Titans were looking at adding one of the high quality free agents that are left on the market right now, including Justin Houston, Ryan Kerrigan, and Melvin Ingram.
This is a pretty cut and dry position group. Rashaan Evans and Jayon Brown figure to be the starters again with Monty Rice and David Long serving as the top backups and B.J. Bello having a chance to make the 53 as a special teams conributor. The one way that this group could get interesting in camp would be if Rice begins to push Evans for a starting role on defense.
This might be the most exciting position on the roster heading into camp. First round pick Caleb Farley and third round pick Elijah Molden are joining 2020 second rounder Kristian Fulton and free agent signings Janoris Jenkins and Kevin Johnson atop a completely remade cornerback room. Breon Borders and Chris Jackson also remain in the mix as players that started multiple games for this team in 2020.
That’s seven players competing for three starting jobs and probably six roster spots. It would be pretty shocking if Jenkins didn’t hold down one of those starting roles given the contract he earned from the team and his outstanding performance with the Saints in 2020, but the other spots seem likely to be up for competition. As a first round pick, you’d expect Farley to make an instant push for a starting job and Fulton’s pedigree coming into year two would suggest that he should be getting a big role as well, but this is suddenly a very deep, competitive group for the Titans.
How the pecking order shakes out over the course of camp will be one of the biggest stories to watch.
Kevin Byard and Amani Hooker are likely to be the starters here with Dane Cruikshank and Mattias Farley both competing for snaps on defense while providing excellent special teams play. Sixth round pick Brady Breeze is also going to be in the mix here and could push for a back of the roster spot thanks to his special teams pedigree.
One wildcard to watch here is Elijah Molden. Molden is listed as a cornerback on the Titans official roster and I think that’s where he starts out, but he does have experience playing at safety thanks to his college defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski’s cross training of all slot corners and safeties at Washington. It wouldn’t surprise me if Molden edges out Cruikshank and Mattias Farley for that third safety role in big nickel/dime packages that Amani Hooker played the last couple seasons.
The Titans signing of Ohio State UDFA kicker Blake Haubeil is interesting for a couple reasons. For one, he was one of college football’s best kickers over the last few seasons, but also because that now puts the Titans at two kickers on the 90-man roster between Haubeil and Tucker McCann. I can’t remember Tennessee carrying more than two kickers into camp in the Jon Robinson era so I think we are likely going to get a Haubeil versus McCann battle early in camp with a call back to Stephen Gostkowski as a fallback option if things go poorly with both young kickers.
Tennessee also added a UDFA punter in James Smith from Cincinnati. The big Aussie is likely there just to help take reps off the plate of the 35-year old Brett Kern in training camp.
I’d imagine Darrynton Evans enters camp as the favorite to earn the kick return duties for the Titans in 2021, but the punt return spot seems wide open. Evans could get a look there, but he was a kick return only special teamer in college and didn’t get that role last year in Tennessee. Cameron Batson would seem like the best fit despite his disastrous cameo in that role back in 2018, but Rashard Davis and Mason Kinsey would be other options if they make the team.
Projected 53-man Roster
As things stand today — and a lot can change in the four months between now and roster cutdown day — here is how I would project the Titans 53-man roster:
QB: Tannehill, Woodside
RB: Henry, Evans, McNichols
WR: Brown, Reynolds, Batson, Fitzpatrick, Westbrook-Ikhine
TE: Firkser, Swaim, Hudson, Moore
OL: Lewan, Saffold, Jones, Davis, Lamm, Radunz, Sambrailo, Brewer, Herring
DL: Simmons, Autry, Tart, Murchison, Taylor
OLB: Dupree, Landry, Weaver, Roberson, Odeniyi
ILB: Evans, Brown, Long, Rice, Bello
CB: Farley, Jenkins, Fulton, Molden, Johnson, Jackson
S: Byard, Hooker, Farley, Cruikshank, Breeze
SPEC: Haubeil, Kern, Cox
Let us know which positions you’re most interested to watch in the comments!