It's entirely too early to think about 2016 team needs, right? Wrong. These summer months offer us very little in terms of on the field content, so why not look to the future?
It's extremely early and things are bound to change multiple times, but the needs are already clear to me. Much like the 2015 draft, I believe the 2016 Titans' class will have another centralized theme. This time, it's all about the defense.
Ruston Webster did just about everything he could possibly do to help the offense this offseason. He added to literally every positional group on the offensive side of the ball. We'll see if he can get early returns on his investment this year.
Next season, it looks like he is set up to take a similar approach -- only in reverse. It's time to add to the defense. I think Webster was able to add enough to this group via free agency to at least get them to a respectable point. However, this roster lacks difference makers. Webster has assembled some nice pieces throughout the defense, but outside of Jurrell Casey the roster lacks cornerstone pieces. That could change in 2016. Here are my top three needs headed into the season.
1. Nose Tackle
Sammie Hill has done a nice job manning this position so far in the Titans' brief 3-4 history. However, Hill is set to hit free agency after the 2015 season. The Titans may be forced to bring Hill back on a short term deal unless they can find a better option in free agency. There are a host of names set to hit the open market at the end of the season.
Unfortunately -- unlike this season with Danny Shelton -- there isn't a sure-fire top nose tackle talent in this class. Dick LeBeau may have to get creative and rotate DaQuan Jones or rookie Angelo Blackson from their defensive end positions. Both players have enough size to at least get a look at nose.
2. Edge Rusher
Ruston Webster is taking a big chance on Brian Orakpo. If he flops, there is virtually nothing behind him on the depth chart. One more pectoral tear and his career could be finished. I think it's vital that Ruston Webster add something behind Morgan and Orakpo next season, if for nothing more than rotational depth. Maybe Jonathan Massaquoi or Deiontrez Mount is that guy, but I'm not comfortable enough with just those two.
3. Inside Linebacker
This position could actually turn into a strength if Zach Brown can stay healthy. Avery Williamson will slide into the "Mike" role this season with Brown manning the "Will" spot. I think Brown is going to flourish in this role, but if he can't stay healthy this season it may be time to move on.
Brown's rookie deal is set to expire after this season. The linebacker class for 2016 appears to be one of the strongest groups in the entire class. Myles Jack, Scooby Wright and Jaylon Smith headline the top of the group.
Clearly this is a very fluid situation and things are bound to change, but this is a rough look at some of the issues Ruston Webster must be thinking ahead to. Obviously positions like right tackle, running back and even cornerback have some unanswered questions, but hopefully the new additions can solidify those spots. The 2016 class has a lot of defensive talent, mainly at linebacker and cornerback. Hopefully the offensive picks from 2015 do enough in their rookie seasons so that Webster can fully focus on defense in 2016.