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Monday, August 18, 2014
Titans surprise in speed ranking

By Paul Kuharsky

Team speed isn’t a feature that screams out for the Tennessee Titans.

Yes, receiver Justin Hunter and quarterback Jake Locker are blazers. But beyond them, in their first season post-Chris Johnson, not many of their players shock you when they open up and run.

It turns out they may be faster than I thought.

Bill Barnwell of Grantland pieces together a way to measure team speed -- looking at primary skill-position players, using combine 40 times adjusted for age.

It’s inexact, but it’s as good as any approach we could assemble.

Much to Barnwell’s amazement, and mine, the Titans are the fastest team in the NFL by these measures.
The Titans are actually above-average at nine of the 10 positions in this lineup; only Bernard Pollard (4.73 age-adjusted 40-yard dash) is below-average at his respective spot, while the likes of Jake Locker (4.57) and Justin Hunter (4.46) are among the fastest players at their positions. Tennessee also has the fastest pair of cornerbacks in the league with Jason McCourty (4.40) and Coty Sensabaugh (4.37) booked to start.

In addition to those guys, Barnwell used Bishop Sankey, Jackie Battle, Kendall Wright, Delanie Walker and Michael Griffin.

Lack of quarterback speed drags down some of the top offenses and teams in the NFL. Denver (28), New Orleans (30) and New England (32) don’t fare well at all in this metric.

Speed may not matter as much as we tend to think. Philadelphia may be the most clever, modern offense in the NFL and the Eagles are 23rd here.

Tennessee will be more inventive on offense with Ken Whisenhunt calling the plays. Hopefully for the Titans, Hunter will run past people, Locker can hurt defenses when he takes off and speedy corners McCourty and Sensabaugh can help limit deep balls.

Speed can still kill. Since the Titans have it, they need to show how.