2019 IDP Projections: Tennessee Titans

Tom Kislingbury

As per last year, I’ll be sharing projections for every team in the NFL. I use past production in specific roles for each team’s scheme to work out realistic production profiles. You can see how accurate I was in 2018 in my IDP Projection Marking series.

The Titans have had a dull defense for a couple of years now. Under the tutelage of Mike Vrabel and Dean Pees (who worked for the Patriots and Ravens before coming to Tennessee) there’s a lot of potential for this defense to really make some noise. 2019 might be a year too early but there’s talent and intelligence here and at some point, we may see an elite unit.

Defensive tackle

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Johnson is still just 25 years old. He’s been fairly average in his three seasons so far but the former second-round pick has a good opportunity to shine with a few more playmakers around him. Even so, it’ll be a stretch for him to be relevant in most IDP leagues.

Defensive end

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Jurrell Casey is the first to tell everyone how underrated he is as a player, but everyone knows that already. Even if he’s not been fully healthy to start camp, he’s going to be the best player on this line again. He’s not an elite IDP (outside of true position leagues) because of how he lines up but he’s definitely still useable in the majority of setups.

Jeffery Simmons will hopefully turn into a bookend across from Casey but 2019 is likely to be almost a write-off. He’s got a handful of snaps here because it would be nice to see him play but really you shouldn’t expect anything.

That would leave DaQuan Jones as the second starter. We know what he is and it’s average, but volume means some points at least.

Inside linebacker

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Now this is a puzzle. Rashaan Evans is full of talent (although he underwhelmed as a rookie), Wesley Woodyard remains a good player and Jayon Brown is the most mobile of these three and seems poised to enjoy a nice career. All three of them are good enough to play but there are really only two roles.

Everyone reading this probably has a different idea of exactly how these snaps will be shared out but here they’ve been done fairly evenly with Evans bringing up the rear as the worst coverage player – at least until he shows us something else.

There’s the potential for one of these three players to be a top-12 LB – but it’s very tough to work out which one it’ll be.

Outside linebacker

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The one thing holding the Titans back last year on defense was their pass rush. By adding one of the better edge rushers of the past decade in Cameron Wake, they improved it drastically. If Harold Landry can develop as expected, then they should at least be better.

Of course, neither of these are a given. Wake is 37 and Landry was frankly fairly average as a rookie. But again, Vrabel and Pees are excellent coaches and we should see better production.


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The Titans have three big-name corners but none of them justified their reputation in 2018. They all produced fairly average seasons in NFL terms but the two outside players (Malcolm Butler and Adoree’ Jackson) at least piled up good tackle numbers. Logan Ryan far less so, but given this column told you a year ago he’d be playing in the slot, you saw that coming.

It’s worth noting that in the past two seasons, Jackson is second among all NFL players in targets thrown into his primary coverage while Malcolm Butler is sixth. That is impressive for a pair of corners to both be so heavily attacked.


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Kevin Byard has recently become the highest-paid safety of all time and he’s an excellent player, but he’s not a great IDP. He’s a natural deep safety which is bad enough for his tackle efficiency, but he also plays in a scheme that heavily uses two-deep concepts. This just means that as good as Byard is, his tackle opportunities are limited by positioning. This explains the fact he’s yet to hit 8% tackle efficiency in his career.

On the other side, Kenny Vaccaro continues to enjoy an inflated reputation based on his first-round draft capital, tattoos, and recognizable name. He hasn’t even managed 50 solo tackles since 2015 and he holds very little value. If you own any shares you should be selling.

Stud – Jurrell Casey, DE

Casey is really good at football. Expect him to be a disruptive influence in both the run and pass games again.

Disappointment – Kevin Byard, S

In 2017 Byard hit 70 solos (the entry level to top-12 safety production) and led the league with eight interceptions. Both of those numbers were ripe for regression. Going into 2019, regression isn’t as likely but even if he holds steady, he’s looking at being an S2. He’s a good IDP but in a world of interchangeable safeties, that’s not enough.

Darkhorse – Rashaan Evans, LB

Evans was disappointing as a rookie, but he also showed flashes of first-round talent towards the end of the season. In particular, he proved he has the timing and physicality to shoot gaps in the run game. He needs to work on his pass-rushing (which is surprising given how he played in college) but if he continues on the same trajectory he showed last year, he’ll be a good starter before long.


The Titans defense is no longer boring. It’s certainly not flashy and some of the players are always going to remain low-profile but there is quality here. Don’t be shocked if a lot more people are talking about them soon.

Thanks for reading.

tom kislingbury