Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Rookie Watch: Youth serving Titans' D
By Matt Williamson
The Titans could still use a stud defensive player, and it really could be at any level. But thanks to good drafting of late, Tennessee has a solid nucleus on that side of the ball -- at all three levels.
This season, the Titans added Jurrell Casey to the middle of their defensive line and Colin McCarthy and Akeem Ayers to the linebacking corps. Casey made an immediate impact as an active run defender. A stout presence on the inside, Casey isn't just a stay-at-home plugger. Instead, Casey shows initial quickness and very good movement skills for his size.
Although he has yet to make my Rookie Watch, Ayers also made an immediate impact at strongside linebacker. Ayers' skill set is much like a 3-4 outside linebacker, but he isn't quite stout or physical enough for that duty on an every-snap basis. This role fits him quite well, and although he has some work to do in coverage, he is solid against the run and an effective blitzer with some dynamic qualities.
After spending the majority of the season behind Barrett Ruud at middle linebacker, McCarthy has burst onto the scene of late. He is extremely productive and would likely be high on the list below if not for his small body of work.
Again, the addition of one elite player could really put Tennessee's defense over the top, but when you factor in players such as Derrick Morgan, Jason McCourty, Alterraun Verner and another rookie defensive tackle, Karl Klug, from the past few drafts, there is a lot to be excited about going forward.
Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for ESPN.com.