We were asked to pick the most underrated defender on the Titans, and I think that’s an easy choice this year: Wesley Woodyard. Woodyard is currently 4th in the NFL with 80 combined tackles and will almost certainly surpass his previous career high of 117 tackles in the next 2-3 weeks. He’s also thrown in 2 sacks and a fumble recovery.
While those are obviously great numbers, I’ve never been a huge fan of using tackle stats as a way to evaluate defenders. After all, a linebacker who makes tons of tackles 10 yards downfield isn’t helping his team that much. However, in this case, the advanced stats agree with the counting stats. PFF’s Run Stop Percentage stat measures the rate of stops per snap in run defense with a “stop” being described as a loss for the offense. Woodyard ranks 2nd in the NFL among inside linebackers at 10.9% behind just Bobby Wagner of the Seahawks. Furthermore, he ranks 7th at his position in Tackling Efficiency and 12th in Pass Rush Productivity.
All these numbers just confirm what we’ve all seen with our eyes this year. Every time the opposition has a critical 3rd or 4th and short, it seems like #59 pops up in the backfield. Here are a few of my favorite Woodyard plays so far this year:
There were a few other good options to consider here. Kevin Byard probably would have been my answer prior to the Browns game, but five interceptions in two games kind of let that secret out. I considered the perennially underappreciated Jurrell Casey and Brian Orakpo here too, but just felt like Woodyard was the clear choice given his performance and the number of huge plays he’s made this season. What do you guys think? Is Woodyard the most underrated Titans defender or can you make an argument for someone else?