With rookie mini-camps underway and each team preparing for the upcoming season, the Tennessee Titans will have some decisions to make for the final roster. The Titans key position battles could make or break the 2021 season.
The front office made a plethora of maneuvers to upgrade the defense. Doing so may have come at a cost though, as the team failed to acquire any exciting players to replace Corey Davis and Jonnu Smith. There are rumors the front office will trade for a receiver and/or tight end, but if that happens, we won’t see that come to fruition until post-June first.
The current roster is shaping up to be solid throughout, although several positions are up in the air for now. The offensive line, wide receiver, secondary, and linebacker positions will have some sturdy competition for starting roles. The outcome will have a major impact on Tennessee’s season, so may the best man win. With that said, here are the Titans key position battles to watch for.
2021 Titans Key Position Battles
RT | Kendall Lamm vs Dillon Radunz
After trading away Isaiah Wilson and cutting Dennis Kelly, the Titans’ right tackle spot was looking rather putrid. During free agency, the front office signed Kendall Lamm and then drafted Dillon Radunz in the second round of the NFL Draft.
Lamm is a six-year veteran entering his seventh year in the NFL. He’s spent most of his career as a rotational player but did play 13 games in 2018 for the Houston Texans. He has experience on his side and finally has a chance to prove he can be a starter in this league. Meanwhile, Radunz is an exciting prospect that protected Trey Lance in college. He’s a tough-as-nails tackle that fits the Titans scheme perfectly.
For now, Lamm is favored to win the starting role due to his experience in the league. However, Radunz is talented enough to win the job outright as a rookie. We likely won’t know who the starter will be until Week One of the 2021 season, so buckle up for an enticing position battle.
Slot CB | Kristian Fulton vs Elijah Molden
Assuming Caleb Farley is fully healthy, he should be starting on the outside opposite Janoris Jenkins. With that said, the corner spot is up for grabs between Kristian Fulton and Elijah Molden. This is the most important position battle on the Titans roster, as Tennessee’s secondary was pathetic a year ago.
Fulton dealt with injuries for most of his rookie campaign, but when he was on the field he was as advertised. The defense needed his abilities last season, but now that he’s heading into the new year healthy, Tennessee’s secondary unit should be vastly improved. Molden is called a “Slot-Jedi,” which means he could receive more playing time sooner rather than later.
Look for Fulton to win the job for now, as he’s a more polished prospect for the time being. He’ll be the outside starter if Farley isn’t ready by the beginning of the season. Molden needs some time to develop, but his role will primarily be in the slot. It’s clear that once Jenkins leaves after this year, Farley, Fulton, and Molden will make up the Titans starting cornerbacks. For now, Jenkins serves as a great one-year rental until these prospects develop.
Slot WR | Nick Westbrook-Ikhine vs Dez Fitzpatrick
Neither name pops off the page, but these two have the best chances of securing the slot position for now. We’ve seen Cameron Batson play as the Titans WR3 before and it was less than stellar seeing him there. Look for the competition to come down between Nick Westbrook-Ikhine and Dez Fitzpatrick.
Westbrook-Ikhine had few opportunities last year, but all three of his receptions were for a first down. He was at the bottom of the depth chart for most of the season but will have a chance to earn a larger role in 2021. On the other hand, we have Dez Fitzpatrick aiming to make some noise in his rookie campaign. Selected in the fourth round of the NFL Draft, Fitzpatrick seems to be a prospect the front office and coaching staff are excited about.
This should be a tight race between the two, as each brings similar skillsets to the table. Fitzpatrick is likely favored to win the job right now, as the Titans traded a decent amount of draft capital to acquire him. Tennessee will want the best route-runner to play, but whoever is the better run-blocker will likely receive the most playing time.
ILB | Rashaan Evans vs David Long Jr.
Jayon Brown is the outright starter as he’s balled out throughout his career. His season-ending injury prevented him from receiving a large contract this offseason, which allowed Tennessee to bring him back for cheap. During his absence, David Long Jr. played like a top linebacker. He filled in Brown’s role smoothly and was the best linebacker on the team by the time the year ended. For that reason, there should be a position battle between Rashaan Evans and David Long Jr. to see who starts alongside Jayon Brown.
Evans had an up and down season last year and opposing offenses took advantage of his faults. He’s not the worst linebacker by any means, but he’s hot-headed and serves more as a run-stopper than anything else. Evans made a lot of mistakes last year that cost Tennessee dearly, and his starting job should be in jeopardy. Long Jr. looked like a seasoned veteran once he stepped in for Brown. He was a tackle machine and was a bright spot on an otherwise dim-lit defense.
Based on how these two played last year, David Long Jr. should win the starting job. That means Tennessee would have an elite run-stopping linebacker to sub in when necessary. That would be the best-case scenario, as having Long Jr. starting alongside Brown, with Evans rotating in, would make the Titans front seven dangerous.
Thanks for reading my article about the Titans key position battles for the 2021 season! For more NFL content follow me on Twitter @VitaleTalks.
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