Recent reports have iterated a common theme in Tennessee over the past couple of years. Build from the offensive line outward. It's a philosophy I wholly endorse. That foundation makes everything easier: bigger lanes for running backs, better protection for the QB (and more time for the WRs to get open), and finally, the increased consistency of the offense taking the heat off the defensive side of the ball. We've seen numerous clubs devote their attention to this offensive line first strategy, and many of their teams fans would tell you they don't regret it. While the Cowboys slipped on the NFC East this year, its easily arguable that they are poised for a quick turnaround with a massively talented crew up front to grease the wheels of the offense and keep their QB upright. They are but one club who saw the benefit of their investment.
Tennessee started this Oline overhaul several years ago when it was obvious that the era of Michale Roos and David Stewart was coming to an end. They sank money into Andy Levitre, drafted Chance Warmack and Brian Schwenke, then later they brought in Michael Oher and drafted Taylor Lewan. The next year the team added Jeremiah Poutasi and Andy Gallik. So the Titans should be in great shape then, right?
Just as in other position groups, the quality of evaluators affects the offensive line group in a big way. Levitre and Oher were FA busts, Schwenke was subpar before suffering a horrific leg injury, and Chance Warmack has been infuriatingly average since he was drafted as the "surest thing" that year. Taylor Lewan has been up and down, Poutasi was thrown into the fire far too soon, and Gallik was decidedly average. Where does that leave the team? Do they continue this relentless quest to fix the offensive line through the draft?
There are arguements to be made, but Delanie Walker wasn't far off base when he said that adding another young gun to thus group wouldn't be the wisest move. Admittedly, he's no front office guru. But he has seen good teams, including some great offensive lines. For most of the 2015 season the Titans offensive line was made up of one year pros and rookies. That isn't a recipe for immediate success, but time and consistent coaching can do a lot to improve a units play. In an environment which success comes as much from trust and teamwork as it does from individual ability, time is everything. If the Titans believe in this young crop of talent, then the last thing they should be thinking about is adding another "sure thing" to the mix. The addition of talent should come in the form of veteran players who can add their mental accumen and help these young guys along.
As we just witnessed in Super Bowl 50, and the last few championship games, defense plays an equally important role in the success or failure of a team. Outside of the quarterback position, the most impact can be felt from quality on the other side of the ball.
So why not go defense at #1? Even if the Titans trade down, they have a host of needs on defense, and depth is razor thin across the board. The team finally cut ties with underperforming safety Michael Griffin, and other lackluster starters like Zach Brown could soon be following him out the door. The team has a star quarterback; now they need difference makers in defense. As we have seen, it is often a talented defense who comprise the the best support for a young QB.
So while many are speculating that the Titans will be gunning for Laremy Tunsil, I believe their best interests lie elsewhere. Draft some premier defensive talent, and bring a physical hard-nosed presence back to Nashville.