Underrated: Jurrell Casey
This is a small-market team that hasn’t had a whole lot of success. Casey came out of USC without a whole lot of fanfare. He is a disruptive presence and has flashes of dominance at times. He is a tough guy for opponents to deal with. If you saw him walking around the street, you might not even know he played football. He is not one of these guys that looks like a Greek god or anything like that, but the guy is just a football player and a hell of one at that. He is the strength of their defense. And be it by the small market or by not a whole lot of winning, he is underappreciated on a national scale. But his opponents know who he is, and they know they need to come up with a plan to get him blocked to be successful.
Overrated: Taylor Lewan
He is really athletic, ran a 4.87 coming out of college. He can really move, has really good feet. But he just has a way of being inconsistent, and some of that has to do with his detail in terms of how he prepares day in and day out. Mike Mularkey stripped him of his captaincy midseason last year. He is somebody that was the No. 11 pick, came in with a bunch of fanfare, but when you watch him he has not produced as you would want from your left tackle. They have hopes that Jack Conklin out of Michigan State will be able to take over as left tackle. He’s a little bit more of a reliable guy. He’s not nearly as athletic as Lewan, though.
The Titans are really trying to build their foundation on a strong, physical running game. Trading for DeMarco Murray, drafting Derrick Henry. Bringing in Conklin who is a mauler, can move guys against their will—that is his specialty as a run blocker, a big, physical, nasty guy. Craig Stevens was one of the better blocking tight ends in the NFL, so his retirement will affect them in a negative way. With what they are trying to do, you’d love to have a guy like that in there to help out the run game. But it seems they are dead-set on building a strong running game.
Their defense has performed at a level to where they could have won more games than they did, but they didn’t have an offense to support them. They will grind it out and are not going to go away, so if they can build a run game and have a defense that is capable, you can win with that. Now you are not asking a young quarterback in Marcus Mariota to do it all on his own. He can make the throws when he has to. And he will end up being a part of the run game, just the plays that he can make with his legs. That is something that just kills a defense. This team should be able to make a little jump here this year.