With the 2016 season in the books for the Tennessee Titans, it is time to begin analyzing the roster for the coming season. TitanInsider.com will go through each position group to look at where the team is sound and where there are likely to be roster moves.
The transformation of the Titans offensive line from weakness to strength in 2016 was one of the primary factors in the team’s marked improvement this past season.
After struggling under Bob Bostad, the Titans brought in Hall of Fame lineman Russ Grimm, who simplified assignments, got players on the same page and instilled a hard-nosed, physical style of play that carried through the entire offense.
The end result is an offensive line that will return all five starters intact for the coming year and still has decent depth to work with as well.
The biggest metamorphosis has been with left tackle Taylor Lewan, who went from a talented player, whose emotions sometimes got the best of him, to a player who harnessed his skills, began learning to check his emotions as the season went on and earned an invitation to his first of what could be many Pro Bowls. On the right side, which had been a revolving door the previous year with Jeremiah Poutasi and Byron Bell, the Titans drafted rookie Jack Conklin and quickly saw him blossom into an All-Pro player, who should solidify that spot for years to come.
It doesn’t get noticed like the tackle tandem, but fixing the interior of the line was just as big an accomplishment as overseeing the tackles’ maturation. The Titans brought in free agent Ben Jones to anchor the line at center. Jones’ presence helped to stabilize the group and made sure the line calls and protections were executed properly.
At guard, Quinton Spain retained the job he had at the end of his rookie season and became a road grader on the left side, teaming with Lewan. On the right side, Chance Warmack turned out to be a disappointment, but landed on injured reserve after week two. Josh Kline, shrewdly claimed off waivers from the Patriots, stepped into the lineup and the group began to hit its stride shortly thereafter.
As for depth, Brian Schwenke, a former starter at center, provided quality on the interior when called upon at guard. He is a free agent, but the Titans might try to retain him at the right price.
Dennis Kelly did yeoman’s work as the third tackle and as the extra blocker when the Titans employed a six-man line.
Sebastian Tretola, a sixth-round pick this past season, is a project but could challenge for a starting spot in 2017.
Starters: Left tackle – Taylor Lewan; left guard -.Quinton Spain; center – Ben Jones; right guard- Josh Kline; right tackle Jack Conklin.
Backups: Center/guard Brian Schwenke (free agent), tackle Dennis Kelly, guard Chance Warmack (free agent), guard Byron Bell (free agent), tackle Tyler Marz; guard Sebastian Tretola; guard Karim Barton.
Likelihood position is addressed in free agency: Schwenke is a guy the Titans might have some interest in retaining at the right price. Warmack is gone, and Bell’s status is up in the air as he is coming off injury and won’t have a spot if Schwenke returns. It is possible the Titans would add a solid backup, but not a necessity..
Likelihood position is addressed in the draft: The offensive line is always a good place to spend a draft pick