2023 NFL Offseason: Tennessee Titans


Tennessee Titans (Last Year: 7-10)



2023 NFL Season Preview:

Veteran Additions:
WR Chris Moore, OT Andre Dillard, DE Arden Key, LB Azeez Al-Shaair, LB Ben Niemann, LB Luke Gifford, CB Sean Murphy-Bunting.
Early Draft Picks:
OT/G Peter Skoronski, QB Will Levis, RB Tyjae Spears, TE Josh Whyle. Titans Rookie Forecast
Offseason Losses:
QB Joshua Dobbs, RB Dontrell Hilliard, WR Robert Woods, TE Austin Hooper, OT Taylor Lewan, G Nate Davis, C Ben Jones, C Corey Levin, DE Bud Dupree, DE Tarell Basham, DT DeMarcus Walker, LB David Long, LB Zach Cunningham, S Andrew Adams, K Randy Bullock.

2023 Tennessee Titans Offense:
There was speculation this offseason that the Titans would completely begin their rebuilding process by trading Ryan Tannehill, Derrick Henry, and Kevin Byard. None of this occurred, so unless some deals take place later during the summer, it appears as though Tennessee will give it one more shot with this current group. This is likely the final chance, as Tannehill is entering his contract year.

Tannehill has been a solid regular-season quarterback for the Titans, but he has let the team down in the playoffs. He’s not the long-term answer, especially now that he’s 35. If Tannehill struggles at all, Mike Vrabel could have a quick hook and replace the veteran with Will Levis. Chosen atop the second round, Levis has a big arm, but is extremely raw. His accuracy is woeful, while his pocket presence is poor. He needs to be coached up, so he almost certainly isn’t the answer either.

Henry, at the very least, should continue to perform well. He rushed for 1,538 yards and 13 touchdowns last year despite missing his starting left tackle for all but one game. There is some concern with Henry now being 29, but he should still be great for another year or two.

Another potential problem concerning Henry was the offensive line, as Tennessee lost the entire left side of its blocking unit. Taylor Lewan, Nate Davis and Ben Jones are all gone, but the Titans did well to find some replacements. They initially signed former first-round pick Andre Dillard to replace Lewan. Peter Skoronski was chosen with the No. 11 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft to be the new left guard. Center looks like a liability, as the pedestrian Aaron Brewer will try to fill Jones’ shoes.

As for the right side of the offensive line, Nicholas Petit-Frere will reprise his role as right tackle. Petit-Frere played relatively well there despite being a third-round rookie, so he should improve with experience. Another young lineman, Dillon Radunz, will have a chance to unseat Daniel Brunskill as the starting right guard, but Brunskill played well there last year.

Speaking of young players, Treylon Burks will be the Titans’ clear-cut No. 1 receiver this year with Robert Woods gone. Burks had a rough start to his rookie year, but had some nice outings down the stretch. He figures to make a big leap in his second season. The rest of the receiving corps is rather pedestrian, however, as Burks will be joined by Nick Westbrook-Ikhine and Kyle Phillips. The Titans needed to make an upgrade in this area, but failed to do so.





2023 Tennessee Titans Defense:
As mentioned earlier, Kevin Byard was a player who was also connected to the trade rumor mill. Byard wasn’t dealt, which ensures that the Titans will have a top-five NFL safety in their defensive backfield once more. This will give the Titans a stellar safety tandem, provided that Amani Hooker can remain healthy. Hooker played well in 2020 and 2021, but was on the field for just seven full games last year.

Byard and Hooker will be paired with several young cornerbacks in Tennessee’s secondary. The best of the bunch appears to be Roger McCreary, who did well for a second-round rookie last year. Ideally, he would start across from 2021 first-rounder Caleb Farley, but Farley’s career has been derailed by injuries thus far. He has played in only 12 of 34 possible games, and he has not performed well in those contests because he hasn’t been healthy. If, by some miracle, Farley can put together a strong season, he would make a nice tandem with McCreary, with Kristian Fulton playing in the slot. It’s more likely, however, that Fulton will have to play out of position across from McCreary. The Titans would at least have a strong slot option with Sean Murphy-Bunting being signed over from the Buccaneers.

Regardless, a young cornerback group needs as much help from the pass rush as possible. The best hope for that is defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons, who has recorded a combined 16 sacks in the past two seasons. Denico Autry put together a strong season with the help of Simmons, logging eight sacks. The two will sandwich Teair Tart, a jack-of-all trades nose tackle.

The Titans’ pass rush will receive a huge boost this season in the wake of Harold Landry’s return from injury. Landry tore his ACL in late August and never played a single snap in 2022. Tennessee certainly missed him and his 12.5 sacks from 2021. Landry and the newly acquired Arden Key will be the Titans’ two pass rushers this season, as Key will replace the departed Robert Woods. Key is a journeyman who has a total of 11 sacks in the past two years playing for the 49ers and Jaguars. The Titans should have obtained some competition for him.

Tennessee was also able to acquire a new linebacker to fill the shoes of another departed player. That was David Long, who signed with the Dolphins. Long was a quality player, but he’ll be replaced by Azeez Al-Shaair, who is strong in run support but weaker in coverage. It’ll be ideal if Al-Shaair plays on run downs along with 2021 third-rounder Monty Rice. Ben Niemann can play in sub packages when the Titans try to defend the pass.





2023 Tennessee Titans Schedule and Intangibles:
Randy Bullock is no longer on the team. Tennessee’s kicker battle will be between a pair of undrafted free agents: Caleb Shudak and Trey Wolff.

Punter Ryan Stonehouse has one of the strongest legs in the NFL. He was fourth in net punting and did a great job of pinning the opposition inside the 20.

Though the Titans are supposed to be rebuilding, they’ll have a good chance to accumulate wins because they will battle the Texans and Titans twice, as well as the NFC South.




2023 Tennessee Titans Rookies:
Go here for the Titans Rookie Forecast, a page with predictions like which rookie will bust and which rookie will become a solid starter.



2023 Tennessee Titans Positional Rankings (1-5 stars):
Quarterbacks
Offensive Line
Secondary
Running Backs
Defensive Line
Special Teams
Receivers
Linebackers
Coaching


2023 Tennessee Titans Analysis: This is likely the final season for the Titans in the Ryan Tannehill-Derrick Henry era. They’ll be competitive in a weak division, but they are underdogs to the Jaguars for the AFC South crown. Something close to a .500 record is possible, but it’s more likely that a disappointing season is in the cards.

Projection: 6-11 (Tied 2nd in AFC South)

2022 Projection: 9-8. 2022 Actual Result: 7-10.
2021 Projection: 9-8. 2021 Actual Result: 12-5.
2020 Projection: 9-7. 2020 Actual Result: 11-5.
2019 Projection: 7-9. 2019 Actual Result: 9-7.
2018 Projection: 7-9. 2018 Actual Result: 9-7.
2017 Projection: 11-5. 2017 Actual Result: 9-7.
2016 Projection: 6-10. 2016 Actual Result: 9-7.

NFL Draft Team Grade: A- Grade

Goals Entering the 2023 NFL Draft: The Titans are in a complete rebuild. They lost their three best offensive linemen and a talented linebacker this offseason. There are talks of them trading Derrick Henry and Kevin Byard as well. Tennessee has to find a new franchise quarterback and acquire new pieces for the future, which includes a starting receiver, several blockers and a successor for Henry.

2023 NFL Draft Accomplishments: It appears as though the Titans agree that they are in a complete rebuild. Two of their first three selections were used on players who will potentially replace their backfield tandem of Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry. Tennessee traded up for Will Levis in the second round to be the successor for Tannehill. I’m not a fan of Levis as a prospect because of his horrible accuracy and lack of touch, but he was at least worth a gamble in the second fame. Henry’s replacement, meanwhile, could be Tyjae Spears, taken in the third round. Spears is a talented back, but has no ACL in one knee, so his career could be brief.

Of course, it doesn’t matter who the quarterback and running back are if there’s no offensive line in front of them. That’s where the first-round pick comes in, as Peter Skoronski has the potential to be a perennial Pro Bowl guard over the next decade. Sixth-round pick Jaelyn Duncan, meanwhile, is raw, but has very high upside. It shouldn’t surprise anyone if he develops into a starting left tackle.

Aside from the Spears pick – and only because of his worrisome knee – I’m a fan of what the Titans accomplished in the 2023 NFL Draft. They’re officially in their rebuild, but it’s a promising start to a new era at the very least.

NFL Draft Individual Grades:

11. Peter Skoronski, G/OT, Northwestern – A+ Grade
Paris Johnson is the best tackle in this class, but it could be argued that Peter Skoronski is the No. 1 offensive lineman. He was docked for his short arms, but he’s going to be an elite guard for Tennessee over the next decade. The Titans desperately needed blocking help after losing three offensive linemen this offseason, and Skoronski will provide a huge boost.


33. Will Levis, QB, Kentucky – B Grade
The Titans caught a falling quarterback last year in Malik Willis, so they’ll be hoping that this signal-caller pick is more successful. It’ll be difficult for Levis to be worse than Willis, but he has an extremely low floor. Levis has major flaws in his game and couldn’t beat out Sean Clifford at Penn State. Some believe Levis fell, but I had him at this very pick in my mock draft, so I don’t think this is a value selection. It’s fine though.


81. Tyjae Spears, RB, Tulane – C- Grade
The rebuilding process is about to begin for the Titans, who could be trading Derrick Henry in the near future. Tyjae Spears is a complete back who could take over as the starter in the near future. He makes sense in this range, except for his horrible knee history. He has no ACL, which is a big problem.


147. Josh Whyle, TE, Cincinnati – B Grade
Josh Whyle played well last year despite inconsistent quarterback play at Cincinnati in the wake of Desmond Ridder’s departure. Whyle makes sense at this selection, though this doesn’t exactly fill a big need.


186. Jaelyn Duncan, OT, Maryland – A+ Grade
I had Jaelyn Duncan in the first round of my mock draft not too long ago! Duncan isn’t a finished product, but he’s super athletic and possesses a ton of upside. It seems as though he slipped because of character and work ethic concerns, but he’s worth the gamble here.


228. Colton Dowell, WR, UT-Martin – B- Grade
Colton Dowell has plus size and hands, but doesn’t have much speed or run-after-the-catch skills. Still, given the Titans’ poor receiving corps, he might be able to make the final roster.




Season Summary:
The Titans were 7-3 heading into Thanksgiving weekend, as they looked poised to win yet another divisional crown. The final seven weeks proved to be disastrous, as major injuries derailed Tennessee’s playoff chances.






Offseason Moves:
  • Titans sign WR Chris Moore
  • Titans sign LB Ben Niemann
  • Titans sign TE Treyvon Wesco
  • Titans sign CB Sean Murphy-Bunting
  • Titans sign DE Arden Key
  • Titans sign LB Azeez Al-Shaair
  • Titans sign LB Luke Gifford
  • Titans sign OT Andre Dillard






    Team Needs:
    1. Quarterback: The Titans needed a quarterback to challenge Ryan Tannehill last season, and they still need one.

    2. Two Offensive Tackles: Tennessee’s offensive line is in shambles. Taylor Lewan is always injured, while the right tackle spot is a big weakness. Two new tackles are needed. Signed Andre Dillard

    3. Wide Receiver: Treylon Burks showed some flashes, but the Titans really missed A.J. Brown last year. Another receiver is needed to replace him. Signed Chris Moore

    4. Edge Rusher: Bud Dupree has been a big disappointment. Tennessee needs to find an upgrade for him. Signed Arden Key



    5. Cornerback: The Titans have a weakness at cornerback that must be addressed, especially with the Jaguars getting Calvin Ridley back from suspension. Signed Sean Murphy-Bunting

    6. Safety: Here’s more needed secondary help, as a new starter has to be obtained to play next to Kevin Byard.

    7. Guard: Nate Davis is Tennessee’s top free agent. There will be a big hole at guard if he leaves.

    8. Linebacker: David Long is another free agent who needs to re-signed or replaced. Signed Azeez Al-Shaair, Ben Niemann and Luke Gifford


      Follow me @walterfootball for updates.






    2023 NFL Free Agent Signings:
    1. Sean Murphy-Bunting, CB, Buccaneers. Age: 26.
      Signed with Titans (1 year, $5 million)

      Sean Murphy-Bunting is an excellent slot cornerback, but he’s had trouble staying healthy recently. He’s missed 12 games in the past two years.

    2. Andre Dillard, OT, Eagles. Age: 27.
      Signed with Titans (3 years, $29 million)

      Andre Dillard is a former first-round tackle who has performed well recently when given the chance to play. He didn’t get much of a chance in Philadelphia, however, because he’s been blocked by Jordan Mailata and Lane Johnson.

    3. Arden Key, DE, Jaguars. Age: 27.
      Signed with Titans (3 years, $24 million)

      Arden Key is a solid rotational pass rusher. He has accumulated 11 sacks in the past two seasons.

    4. Azeez Al-Shaair, LB, 49ers. Age: 26. — Signed with Titans
    5. Chris Moore, WR, Texans. Age: 30. — Signed with Titans
    6. Ben Niemann, LB, Cardinals. Age: 28. — Signed with Titans
    7. Luke Gifford, LB, Cowboys. Age: 28. — Signed with Titans
    8. Trevon Wesco, TE, Bears. Age: 27. — Signed with Titans





    Tennessee Titans Free Agents:

    Salary Cap: TBA.
    1. Nate Davis, G, Titans. Age: 26.
      Signed with Bears (3 years)

      Nate Davis has emerged as one of the best guards in the NFL. He’s just 26, so he has a bright future ahead of him.

    2. Ben Jones, C, Titans. Age: 34.
      Ben Jones has been one of the better centers in the NFL, but he’s 34 now. Centers can play well into their mid-30s, but Jones should decline soon.



    3. David Long, LB, Titans. Age: 26.
      Signed with Dolphins

      David Long is undersized, but he has done well to make something of himself after being a sixth-round pick. He’s coming off a tremendous season that ended in Week 13.

    4. Bud Dupree, DE, Titans. Age: 30.
      Signed with Falcons (1 year, $5 million)

      Bud Dupree hasn’t been the same since his torn ACL. However, he’s now two years removed from that injury, so he could rebound in 2023.

    5. Robert Woods, WR, Titans. Age: 31.
      Signed with Texans (2 years, $15.3 million)

      It’s very odd that the Titans would obtain Robert Woods when he was coming off a torn ACL, then cut him when he’s expected to have a bounce-back season. Woods should have a solid 2023 campaign.

    6. Taylor Lewan, OT, Titans. Age: 32.
      Taylor Lewan would be a four-star player under normal circumstances, but he has missed 30 games in the past three years. Perhaps he’ll be healthier in the future, but things are looking bleak for him.

    7. Randy Bullock, K, Titans. Age: 33.
      Randy Bullock has hit 83.9 percent of his field goals or better in three of his past four seasons, but he’s just 8-of-15 from 50-plus since 2018.

    8. Zach Cunningham, LB, Titans. Age: 28.
      Zach Cunningham was a solid player prior to 2022, but he’s coming off an injury-ravaged season.

    9. Corey Levin, C, Titans. Age: 29.
    10. Andrew Adams, S, Titans. Age: 30.
    11. Tarell Basham, DE, Titans. Age: 29.
    12. Austin Hooper, TE, Titans. Age: 28. — Signed with Raiders
    13. DeMarcus Walker, DE/DT, Titans. Age: 28. — Signed with Bears
    14. Dontrell Hilliard, RB, Titans. Age: 28.
    15. Joshua Dobbs, QB, Titans. Age: 28. — Signed with Browns (1 year)
    16. Joshua Kalu, CB, Titans. Age: 28.
    17. Lonnie Johnson, CB, Titans. Age: 27. — Signed with Saints
    18. Geoff Swaim, TE, Titans. Age: 29.
    19. Mario Edwards, DE, Titans. Age: 29. — Signed with Seahawks
    20. Dylan Cole, DE/OLB, Titans. Age: 29.
    21. Terrance Mitchell, CB, Titans. Age: 31.
    22. Dennis Daley, OT, Titans. Age: 27. — Signed with Cardinals
    23. Chris Conley, WR, Titans. Age: 30. — Signed with 49ers
    24. Le’Raven Clark, OT, Titans. Age: 30. — Signed with Steelers
    25. Trenton Cannon, RB, Titans. Age: 28.
    26. Da’Shawn Hand, DT, Titans. Age: 27.
    27. A.J. Moore, S, Titans. Age: 27.
    28. Greg Mabin, CB, Titans. Age: 29.
    29. C.J. Board, CB, Titans. Age: 29.
    30. Andre Smith, LB, Titans. Age: 26.
    31. Davontae Harris, CB, Titans. Age: 28.


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