We are in the thick of NFL inactivity, so ESPN rolled out a future power rankings post to help us all pass the time. It's a look at the current roster, coaching and front office situation for each franchise while trying to project how each organization will grow over the next three seasons. I thought the Titans might have a shot to be ranked generously given the fact that Marcus Mariota put up such a great rookie season, but that wasn't the case.
The Titans came in at number 23 on the list, right behind divisional foe Jacksonville. ESPN marked every area as an improvement, except for coaching. Mike Mularkey was the target of their "low point" section with good reason. The 18-39 record will haunt him until he proves those numbers to be inaccurate.
Everything else was up from last season. The quarterback spot, overall roster, draft and front office all improved from last season's marks. So why didn't the Titans move higher up on the list?
I think the unknowns of this staff and the offensive line held the Titans back in these ranks. Mike Mularkey has shown us who he is, so why should anyone believe he will do anything differently this time around? The offensive line should improve in theory with the additions of Ben Jones and Jack Conklin, but we still don't know if the Titans will be able to sustain a rushing attack.
I'm not one to get upset about power rankings, but it's reasonable to assume that the Titans will be able to make somewhat of a jump forward simply because of Marcus Mariota. He has a shot to really move this franchise forward over the next few seasons as he enters his prime -- even if Mike Mularkey sticks around. Don't forget about those two first round picks next year either. That has to be considered in the formula.
A deeper front seven and a more experienced secondary could provide a lift defensively too. Dick LeBeau can now go to Kevin Dodd and Deiontrez Mount as depth rushers. He can insert Brice McCain into a slot role. He can rely on Rashad Johnson to step into Michael Griffin's role. Rookie talent like Kevin Byard and Austin Johnson should step in and fill a role immediately.
Jon Robinson was able to add small pieces here and there, bringing the Titans more depth virtually everywhere. I'm not sure if that strategy will bring immediate wins, but Robinson has the Titans much better off than they were this January. I'm not entirely sure where I would place Tennessee on this futures list, but I do know that Marcus Mariota is going to make things fun around here for the next several years.