For 2022, the level of uncertainty for the Tennessee Titans varies drastically by position.
There should be a lot of comfort in the defensive front, which paced a defense that ranked No. 2 in the NFL against the run and top 10 in sacks. But then there are positions like cornerback which have some questions. And there are bigger question marks at various spots on offense.
Three weeks from the draft, how should we assess the Titans’ holes?
The Tennessean ranked each position for Tennessee by need, from most to least. Here’s the breakdown:
Projected starters: Harold Landry, Bud Dupree
Depth: Rashad Weaver, Ola Adeniyi, Nate Hall, Kobe Jones, Justin Lawler
Landry and a healthy Dupree are double-digit sack threats. Defensive lineman Denico Autry, who tied a career-high nine sacks last season, also plays outside linebacker occasionally.
Adeniyi, known primarily as a special-teamer, brought more than expected pass-rush value last season, and that could continue. There will be at least some concern with the depth here if Weaver, a 2021 fourth-rounder who broke his leg in Week 3 last season, doesn’t have a healthy second season.
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Projected starters: Jeffery Simmons, Denico Autry, Teair Tart
Depth: Larrell Murchison, Naquan Jones, Kevin Strong, Da’Shawn Hand
Simmons and Autry formed one of the NFL’s most disruptive interior defensive-line tandems last season, and that should stay the same in 2022.
Murchison and Jones shore up the depth, though the Titans could benefit from the addition of another key contributor in the next two seasons.
Projected starters: Kevin Byard, Amani Hooker
Depth: A.J. Moore, Jamal Carter, Rodney Clemons
The Titans have one of the best starting safety tandems in the NFL with Byard, a two-time first-team All Pro, and Hooker, an ascending starter. But depth at the spot took a hit with the departure in free agency of Dane Cruikshank, who was the No. 3 option.
Projected starters: Zach Cunningham, David Long Jr.
Depth: Monty Rice, Dylan Cole, Tuzar Skipper, Joe Jones
Rashaan Evans and Jayon Brown are gone, but Cunningham and Long showed last season that they are Tennessee’s inside linebacker tandem for 2022 and beyond. Rice, a 2021 third-rounder, figures to take a step next season as a No. 3 option.
Projected starter: Morgan Cox
Cox has been one of the NFL’s best long snappers for the last few years. He was a Pro Bowl alternate last season.
Projected starter: Brett Kern
Kern is still one of the top punters in the game, but his play has declined the past couple seasons from his All-Pro 2019 campaign (He ranked 22nd in punts downed inside the 20 and 18th in punting average last season). Coach Mike Vrabel said the 36-year-old needs to play better at the NFL’s owners meetings.
Projected starter: Ryan Tannehill
Depth: Logan Woodside, Kevin Hogan
Tannehill is the Titans’ starter (for right now), but Tennessee needs to start looking at long-term options at the most important position. General manager Jon Robinson has acknowledged that.
To many team observers, Tannehill’s three-interception performance in the AFC divisional-round loss to the Bengals adds to a resume that suggests he’s not the quarterback who can lead the Titans to the Super Bowl.
Projected starter: Randy Bullock
Armed with a new two-year deal, Bullock brought stability to the Titans’ kicking in 2021 after inconsistency in 2019 and 2020. But there’s room for improvement. His 83.9% field goal success rate ranked 21st in the NFL last season.
Projected starter: Austin Hooper
Depth: Geoff Swaim, Ryan Izzo, Tommy Hudson
Tight end was a significant concern until the Titans added Austin in free agency, a versatile No. 1 option. Tennessee might still draft a tight end relatively high, keeping the future in mind.
Projected starters: Derrick Henry, Tory Carter (fullback)
Depth: Dontrell Hilliard, Jordan Wilkins, Trenton Cannon
Henry might still be a superstar, but the Titans would be wise to start thinking about his long-term replacement after he missed nine games in 2021 with a Jones fracture. Tennessee’s offense revolves around a strong run game, and D’Onta Foreman, who led the committee approach that kept Tennessee’s run game afloat without Henry, signed with the Panthers in free agency.
Projected starters: Kristian Fulton, Caleb Farley, Elijah Molden (nickel)
Depth: Buster Skrine, Chris Jackson, Shyheim Carter, Kobe Jones, Justin Lawler
The Titans could be in trouble at cornerback if 2021 first-rounder Caleb Farley doesn’t stay healthy (and produce). Tennessee drafted him high last year despite health concerns, banking on his talent. He played just three games as a rookie due to injury.
Projected starters: A.J. Brown, Robert Woods, Nick Westbrook-Ikhine
Depth: Dez Fitzpatrick, Racey McMath, Josh Malone, Cody Hollister, Mason Kinsey
The wide receiver room was a major issue last season outside of Brown. And the group subtracted Julio Jones and added Robert Woods, who could be a quality No. 2 receiver – but he’ll be 30 next season, and he tore his ACL in November. More receiver depth should be one of the Titans’ biggest priorities in the draft.
Projected starters: Taylor Lewan, Jamarco Jones, Ben Jones, Nate Davis, Dillon Radunz
Depth: Aaron Brewer, Christian DiLauro, Derwin Gray, Daniel Munyer, Jordan Roos
Pass protection was one of Tennessee’s biggest issues last season – Tannehill was sacked 47 times, second-most in the NFL – and two starters need to be replaced, with left guard Rodger Saffold released and right tackle David Quessenberry not tendered as a restricted free agent.
A 2021 second-rounder, Radunz had a disappointing rookie season and must make a big leap for an offensive line that’s going through big change.