Corey Levin was the Titans best offensive player last Thursday in Green Bay according to Pro Football Focus. In fact, Levin graded out as PFF’s top center overall from Preseason Week 1.
They weren’t the only ones that noticed the Titans second-year center/guard though. Mike Vrabel singled Levin out as having “his best game as a Titan” against the Packers. While that’s a relatively small sample size, it’s clear that Levin got the attention of his head coach and after reviewing the film it’s not too hard to see why.
Coming out of UT-Chattanooga, Levin was known as an athletic interior lineman who did his best work blocking on the move. The Titans’ new zone blocking scheme really fits Levin well and it showed on Thursday. On this first clip, the call is an outside zone run to the left side. Levin (#62) is lined up at center with the nose tackle shading to his right. Since the nose tackle is away from the play side, Levin is considered “uncovered” and by traditional outside zone rules, is responsible for helping the right guard — Xavier Su’a-Filo in this case — reach the nose and then getting to the second level to cut off a linebacker. He performs these tasks to perfection here as he is able to help Su’a-Filo get an angle on the nose (Su’a-Filo finishes him off in impressive fashion as well), but he’s also able to quickly reach the inside linebacker and get him on the ground.
Levin’s ability to move in space is an asset in the screen game. You can get a little feel for that here as he gets outside to block for the wide receiver screen here. I actually think Devin Ross may have missed a big play here because he didn’t follow Levin, who looked like he was angling outside to block the defender who ends up making the tackle. He ended up not getting a chance to do much here, but you can see some of his athleticism as he gets downfield.
Now for the fun stuff though. Again, the Titans are running outside zone, but this time Levin is covered by the nose tackle who is lined up on his play side shoulder. That means his responsibility is to reach the nose’s outside shoulder and/or drive block him downfield. Levin goes for both here as he quickly gains outside leverage and then drives his opponent back a couple yards before ultimately putting him on the ground. It’s hard to ask for a better rep than that from your center.
Here is another outside zone concept, but this time the Packers defensive lineman shifts late and changes Levin from uncovered to covered just before the snap. Levin quickly adjusts to reach and drive the play side defensive tackle about 3 yards downfield again.
Another similar play, another great block from Levin. This time, again, he’s covered and asked to reach/drive the nose tackle who is lined up on his playside shoulder. Levin not only puts the defender on skates, but drives him 5 yards downfield before finishing the job with another pancake.
Levin was excellent in pass protection as well, allowing no pressures and generally looking to be in command of the blitz pickups in the middle of the line. I have figured him to be a player that was squarely on the roster bubble — somewhere around the 8th or 9th best offensive lineman on the team — but if he can keep putting together performances like this one, he should absolutely be on this roster. In addition to playing as the second-team center, Levin also go in the game at right guard later on in the contest. That versatility should be helpful to his hopes of making the opening day roster as well.
If he can keep this going he might even have an outside shot to get in the mix at left guard (though Quinton Spain certainly seems to have tightened his grip on that spot during the early days of camp). One interesting thing that I found when going back and studying Levin is that playerprofiler.com lists his “best comparable” as Josh Kline, a player that the Titans just gave a pretty good sized contract to this offseason. If Levin turns in to Kline 2.0, I’m sure the Titans would be more than happy with that, particularly in the new offensive scheme that will require offensive lineman to be on the move far more often. That plays right in to Levin’s strengths as a player and Thursday night may have been the first sign of things to come for the 2017 6th round pick.