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What Tennessee Titans roster tells us about how they could stay competitive at top of AFC

The Tennessean (Nashville) logo The Tennessean (Nashville) 5/5/2022 Ben Arthur, Nashville Tennessean
Tennessee Titans defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons (98) and linebacker Harold Landry (58) sack Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) at Nissan Stadium Monday, Oct. 18, 2021 in Nashville, Tenn. © George Walker IV / Tennessean.com Tennessee Titans defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons (98) and linebacker Harold Landry (58) sack Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) at Nissan Stadium Monday, Oct. 18, 2021 in Nashville, Tenn.

The Tennessee Titans checked off boxes across the depth chart. 

In the 2022 NFL Draft, they addressed needs at receiver, tight end and the offensive line. Shored up depth at running back, inside linebacker and in the secondary. Even drafted their expected quarterback of the future. 

The one position group (excluding special teams) Tennessee didn’t address in the draft? The front four. 

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The team already sees it as a strength.

“I think we were able to get Ola (Adeniyi) back, and we have some guys coming back,” general manager Jon Robinson said. “Getting Harold (Landry) back. We'll continue to look at that position, but I think that position group paid dividends for us kind of toward the end of the season. We were able to kind of get those games going and get pressure on the quarterback, but we like it.”

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After becoming dominant for the 2021 Titans, the front four is poised to lead the team again next season. Including Harold Landry’s five-year extension worth $87.5 million, Tennessee has committed more than $202 million to its starters up front over the last year-plus. It’s further indication that Tennessee is banking on the defense, with 10 returning starters, to remain the strength of a team that hopes to close the gap with the AFC’s elite. 

It falls on the backdrop of an offense that already had major questions this offseason now needing to replace star receiver A.J. Brown, who was traded to the Eagles.

While the offense is in wait-and-see mode with a bevy of new faces needed to assume big roles immediately, the defense didn't need big changes. It has depth on every level following the draft. 

2021 fourth-rounder Rashad Weaver, who played just two games as a rookie due to injury, should provide an additional boost (if healthy) to an already strong front four. And if there was any uncertainty with the defense this offseason it was with the secondary, as the Titans ranked 25th in passing yards allowed last season. Veteran cornerback Jackrabbit Jenkins was released in March, a cost-saving move. 

With second-rounder Roger McCreary in the fold, Tennessee should have three starting-caliber outside cornerbacks, assuming 2021 first-round pick Caleb Farley stays healthy. It has four cornerbacks overall who were selected in the first three rounds of the draft since 2020. 

The Titans also lost backup safety and sub-package specialist Dane Cruikshank, but they should be able to replace his defensive value between free-agent acquisition A.J. Moore Jr. and sixth-round Theo Jackson.

“I hope that those guys will give us some flexibility and some opportunities to use their versatility and put them in positions to maybe give some matchup-type coverages for us,” Robinson said of McCreary and Jackson. “That's for the coaches to determine that, but I think from a skillset standpoint, we certainly like Roger and we like Theo, and we think they're going to be good football players and come in here and help us.”

Ben Arthur covers the Tennessee Titans for The USA TODAY Network. Contact him at barthur@gannett.com and follow him on Twitter at @benyarthur.

This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: What Tennessee Titans roster tells us about how they could stay competitive at top of AFC

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