The Titans’ defensive line played a significant role in the unit’s 2021 success, and the top of the depth chart is relatively settled heading into this season. One starting spot is up for grabs, though, and the team has a number of depth options to consider during training camp.
Terry McCormick of TitansInsider.com notes that Jeffery Simmons is set to once again anchor the team’s d-line. He enjoyed a breakout campaign in 2021 with 8.5 sacks, earning him a Pro Bowl nod and Second-Team All-Pro honors. The Mississippi State product will be 25 this season, making him a prime candidate for the team to make a long-term commitment to sometime in the near future.
Another first-team role will belong to Denico Autry. The veteran’s first year in Tennessee was one of the most productive of his career. He matched a personal best with nine sacks and set a new mark with 18 QB hits, leading to optimism for the remaining two seasons of the deal he signed with the Titans last offseason. Who will join Simmons and Autry as a starter remains to be seen, though.
McCormick writes that former UDFAs Teair Tart and Naquan Jones are the likeliest candidates for that spot. Tart registered 10 starts in 2021, seeing a defensive snap share of nearly 50% along the way. Jones, meanwhile, offered more pass-rushing potential with 2.5 sacks as a rookie; he is also a player the Titans “are high on” to take a step forward in 2022. The rest of the position group is set to be rounded out by some combination of former Lions Da’Shawn Hand and Kevin Strong, and free agent signee DeMarcus Walker.
One interesting name in this positional competition is Larrell Murchison. A 2020 fifth-rounder, the NC State alum has yet to claim a full-time starting role, and has totalled just 13 tackles so far in the NFL. Considering the talent and depth ahead of him, McCormick points out that Murchison’s roster spot could be “in jeopardy.” How the depth chart shakes out will depend on his training camp performance, and those of several intriguing options the Titans have at the position.