In 2019, once again, the strength of the Tennessee Titans offense looks to be in the trenches with the offensive line. Tennessee cannot afford to have a lackluster year up front as they look to continue Derrick Henry‘s late-season success in 2018 and keep Marcus Mariota healthy over the course of a full season for the first time in his career. As training camp approaches, four of the five starting jobs look to be filled as right guard is up for grabs.
Taking a Look at the Tennessee Titans 2019 Offensive Line
Starter: Taylor Lewan – The former Michigan Wolverine, Lewan is set to begin his sixth season with the Titans. Lewan is as good as it gets at the left tackle position and has been the most consistent man up front over the past three-plus years. Coming off three straight Pro Bowl selections, Lewan looks to take the next step into the elite of the elite at the position.
Back-up: Tyler Marz – Marz, entering his fourth NFL season, and third with the Titans has rarely seen the field in his short career and Titans fans can hope for more of the same. If Marz sees a start in 2019, something disastrous has happened.
Starter: Rodger Saffold – The Titans signed Saffold on March 12 on a four-year, $44 million dollar deal after letting Quinton Spain walk this off-season. Saffold was a significant contributor in the success of Rams’ running back Todd Gurley en route to an NFC Championship. In the 2018 season, the Titans interior offensive line was a glaring issue as they struggled to get Henry to the second level in between the tackles. Saffold was brought in to sure up the left guard position, propelling the left side of the Titans’ offensive line one of the best in the league.
Back-up: Aaron Stinnie – Stinnie was an undrafted free agent out of James Madison that made it on to the roster in 2018. The Titans are optimistic in his growth and hope he can provide depth at the guard position for years to come.
Starter: Ben Jones – The eight-year veteran center returns to the Titans in a contract year. After some struggles in 2018, Jones needs to show he’s still got it and can anchor the middle in the trenches.
Back-up: Corey Levin – The third-year center from right down the road at Tennessee-Chattanooga has provided solid depth in his two years with Tennessee. Levin has appeared in 16 games as well as one start in relief at guard and on special teams. If he can improve, he will likely push for the starting center job as Jones’ contract runs out.
This is where things get interesting. After the departure of Josh Kline, this guard spot is wide open.
Contender: Kevin Pamphile – If the season started today, Pamphile would likely be the starter. He has appeared in 56 games with 35 starts, mostly in Tampa Bay, but has an extremely low ceiling and surely isn’t someone who fans are going to get excited about.
Contender: Nate Davis – The Titans took Davis in the third round of the 2019 NFL draft out of the University of Charlotte. Davis is a mauler who can hold his own in the run game. There are questions about his pass blocking that may be answered in training camp and pre-season. Since the Titans took Davis so high in the draft, it is presumed they have a plan for him to start at some point this season or in the near future.
Doubtful: Corey Levin, Jamil Douglas, Hroniss Grasu – These three young linemen may be given a shot but it is unlikely one of them is seriously considered for the job. It is most likely that either Douglas or Grasu will not be on the roster come the start on the 2019 season.
Starter: Jack Conklin – After a tremendous rookie season as a first-team All-Pro, Conklin has had his fair share of struggles due to injury and inconsistency. In his second season in 2017, Conklin tore his ACL in the AFC divisional game against the New England Patriots. At the start of the 2018 season, Conklin missed the first three games of the season, still dealing with his ACL. Upon returning to the starting line-up, he struggled for a few games before sustaining a concussion in a Week Nine victory versus the Dallas Cowboys. He would then miss the next games against the Patriots. Conklin would return Week 11 against the Colts, only to suffer another knee injury in week 14, effectively ending his season. The Titans have decided to decline Conklin’s fifth-year option. In order to earn an extension, Conklin must return to being a top tier right tackle in 2019.
Back-up: Dennis Kelly – Kelly has been one of the more solid back-ups in the NFL over the past few years. After the numerous injuries of Conklin, Kelly has come in and actually played fairly well in holding up the offensive line. Kelly often fills in at either tackle spot in relief of Lewan or Conklin if needed as well as coming in as a sixth lineman in heavy packages. He adds great value and fits in well with the offensive philosophy in Tennessee.
As with every team, a lot rides of the success of the guys up front for the Titans in 2019. There are a lot of brights spots as well as a few unknowns with this group and much will be cleared up by the start of the regular season.