The Titans have made a lot of changes over this offseason, both in the form of player personnel and coaching staff additions/subtractions. After a quick look at the team's new roster, I got to thinking who I would pick out as "breakout" candidates for 2014. While that term is certainly overplayed, I thought it would be a worthwhile exercise looking at certain players and projecting their new roles on the team.
For the record, Jurrell Casey has already broken out, regardless of what people may say. He is one of the best at his position in the league, so we'll comfortably leave him off this list, along with the likes of Kendall Wright, and the other embedded Titan contributors.
1. Justin Hunter, WR
The most obvious choice. I've written recently about the tendencies of Ken Whisenhunt's offenses in the past, and how their makeup favors players like Kendall Wright and Dexter McCluster. Though he had tools like Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald to work with in the past, Whisenhunt's scheme isn't necessarily vertically oriented.
Then OTA's rolled around and Locker, as well as some of the wideouts, talked about being able to push the ball down the field more. Whatever the case may be, Justin Hunter has gotten a season under his belt, and should be in a perfect spot to have a "breakout" season. Rookie years for wideouts are notoriously difficult, and that we have already seen some impressive returns from Hunter is encouraging.
2. Coty Sensabaugh, CB
With Verner's departure, there is a void at corner to fill. Where some see loss, others see opportunity. Coty Sensabaugh should be primed to take command of that vacated position barring an impressive camp from sophomore Blidi Wreh-Wilson. Whatever the outcome at the starting corner spot, Sensabaugh should be in position to have a big year.
He has impressed whilst defensing the slot in the past campaign. He ended last season on IR after the week 14 game against the Cardinals, but will be 100% for training camp.
3. Zach Brown, ILB
While Zach Brown is more well known than the others on this list and has had some impressive flashes, he's failed to make those feelings last in coaches and fans alike. After an impressive beginning to the 2013 season, Brown faltered down the stretch, eventually leading to his benching.
With an ideal combination of size, speed, and pass rushing savvy, Brown should be the perfect weapon for new DC Ray Horton. With questionable quality the issue with the last staff, especially at the linebacker spot, Brown should be in a position to turn some heads come game day in 2014.
4. Dexter McCluster, RB
After several seasons in Kansas City, McCluster's resume is all over the place. He has been used primarily as a runner, then as a receiver, and all along as a dangerous kick returner. He is likely to do more of the former in Tennessee. I expect Ken Whisenhunt to use him as a receiver out of the backfield early and often into games, taking advantage of his versatile skillset. This should allow Locker some easy completions and cause plenty of match-up problems for defenses.
Because of his excellent fit, I pegged McCluster as a prime candidate to impress in 2014. With a high potential for effectiveness and a low guaranteed price tag, he might be the biggest surprise of the year for the Titans when all is said and done.