Coming into the season, the Titans were expected to compete for the AFC South title. When Andrew Luck never returned and the Texans dealt with key injuries all over the roster, it appeared the path was open. But Tennessee couldn’t prevail over the upstar Jaguars, leaving the team to compete for a wild card at the end of the season rather than get a home game in the playoffs. Will they find the right formula in the offseason to get over the hurdle in 2018? Let’s dive in.
2018 draft picks
Round 1: Tennessee
Round 2: Tennessee
Round 3: Tennessee
Round 4: Tennessee
Round 5: Tennessee
Round 6: Tennessee
Round 7: Tennessee*
The Titans haven’t done much on the trade front involving draft picks, but they could end up sacrificing their seventh-rounder, which was dealt to the Chiefs on a conditional basis for defensive lineman David King before the season. King has played around 100 snaps for the team this year.
Biggest offseason needs
The Titans are pretty set on offense, where they could save some money by jettisoning DeMarco Murray and Delanie Walker and going with the younger Derrick Henry and Jonnu Smith at their positions, if they desire. The one spot that definitely needs attention is at guard, where they could be looking for two starters to pair with Taylor Lewan and Jack Conklin at tackle and Ben Jones at center.
Jurrell Casey is a beast on the defensive line, and while he’s locked in at one 3-4 end spot, DaQuan Jones is heading into free agency after an excellent season. The Titans do have some depth to handle the loss, but if Jones isn’t re-signed, at least one fresh face has to be brought in.
At the next level, Avery Williamson is also set to become a free agent, and he’d be a big loss for the unit. Pass-rushers Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan each carry 2018 salaries and small dead cap numbers, so if there’s a squeeze to create some space and the front office is confident it can find cheaper help for the pass rush elsewhere, it’s not out of the realm of possibility the team could move on from one of their starters.
In the secondary, the Titans could get out of the Johnathan Cyprien deal and save $4.5 million in cap space if they choose, but if he sticks around, the focus will likely be on finding a third corner to play alongside rookie Adoree’ Jackson and Logan Ryan.
Prospects to watch
Ross Pierschbacher, OG, Alabama
Pierschbacher moves exceptionally well for a 6-foot-3, 304-pound interior lineman, and he’s powerful at the point of attack. He seems like the type of blue-collar player that Titans would want at one of their guard spots.
Taven Bryan, DE, Florida
Bryan’s size — 6-foot-3, and 290-ish pounds — leads him to being able to play many roles along a defensive line. He’s probably best as a base 3-4 end who can kick inside to win battles against guards in a nickel package. He has a rare blend of size, bulk, athleticism, and hand usage.
Kendall Joseph, ILB, Clemson
Joseph wasn’t able to rekindle the magic from his spectacular sophomore season in 2017, but he’s been a tackling-machine for Clemson behind an outstanding defensive line during his time with the Tigers. He’s a quick-twitch downhill run-stopper who has the physical gifts to eventually be a good coverage linebacker.
M.J. Stewart, CB, North Carolina
Stewart has been a versatile play-maker for the Tar Heels during his entire career in Chapel Hill. He has six interceptions and 41 pass breakups to go along with 199 tackles in his four-year tenure. At 6-foot-0, and 205 pounds, he’s played on the outside and in the slot.