Quietly, the Titans had an impressive offense last year, with an eight-game stretch in which they averaged 30.8 points. What stood out was their schematic diversity. They mostly went with an old-school, smashmouth approach that regularly included extra running backs and tight ends. But late in halves, when they were great, they used a spread with three or four receivers.
• They've added talent at WR, drafting COREY DAVIS of Western Michigan with the fifth pick and signing ERIC DECKER from the Jets, but it's still not a fast group. Tennessee will have to continue manufacturing deep shots through play design. That means a first-down play-action passing game—something the Titans developed well last season.
• MARCUS MARIOTA has the makeup to be a star, especially if he's a complementary QB in a run-first offense. That said, he must be more consistent. His accuracy wavers, which is unusual for a passer with such a compact delivery. Early last season he also made too many poor, improvised decisions late in the down.
• Twelfth-year tight end DELANIE WALKER is invaluable. The Titans can line up in "13" personnel (one-back, three tight ends) and not sacrifice many of their offensive concepts because Walker can act as the second wide receiver. Last season the Titans played 87 snaps of 13 personnel, second to only the Chiefs (101). Their QB rating on 26 passes from this package was 125.8. Being able to play in 13 is a huge advantage for a run-based offense, because having three tight ends creates additional gaps for the backs.
• Coordinator DICK LEBEAU'S defense is defined by amoeba fronts (in which most box defenders stand up), and complex five-man blitzes on passing downs. In the secondary LeBeau now prefers man coverage—which is shocking for one of the founders of the zone blitz. That's a gargantuan change for the 79-year-old.
• A name to remember: safety KEVIN BYARD. The 2016 third-round pick thrives as a blitzer (especially versus the run) and has shown hints of man coverage ability. The Titans like to play with three safeties, and it will be interesting to see how Byard meshes with free-agent pickup JOHNATHAN CYPRIEN (Jaguars), who has a similar skill set.
"MARIOTA HAS THE MAKEUP TO BE A STAR, BUT HIS ACCURACY WAVERED AND IN 2016 HE MADE TOO MANY POOR DECISIONS."
SI'S 2017 PREDICTION
ANDY BENOIT'S 400 MMQB ON.SI.COM/400
41 JURRELL CASEY DE
181 DELANIE WALKER TE
225 LOGAN RYAN CB
236 SYLVESTER WILLIAMS NT
251 TAYLOR LEWAN T
280 JACK CONKLIN T
297 MARCUS MARIOTA QB
312 BRIAN ORAKPO OLB
316 KEVIN BYARD FS
336 AVERY WILLIAMSON LB
365 DERRICK MORGAN OLB
377 AUSTIN JOHNSON DE
385 DERRICK HENRY RB
392 DEMARCO MURRAY RB
396 ERIK WALDEN LB