The Tennessee Titans have a young group of players, with many of their top offensive players being 25 or under heading into 2020. And when you look back at the 2019 season and their surprising run to the AFC Championship Game, you have to wonder if they can make another push this season.
After finishing the regular season with a 9-7 record — good enough for a Wildcard spot — the team went on to upset the New England Patriots 20-13 before an impressive 28-12 win over the Baltimore Ravens in the divisional round.
Unfortunately, that run came to an end at the hands of the eventual Super Bowl champions, the Kansas City Chiefs. Hope remains for 2020, however, especially after some of the holes on the roster were patched during the offseason.
The list below includes Tennessee’s top five players on the offensive side of the football under the age of 25, and they’ll all go a long way in determining the team’s overall success this upcoming season.
You’ll also notice something called an OSM grade, which stands for Offensive Share Metric. This proprietary model measures how much of a player’s statistical production they were actually responsible for. For example, a wide receiver that doesn’t drop passes and breaks a lot of tackles will have a higher grade than one who did the opposite.
So, a player with a higher grade was more responsible for their own production than a player with a lower one. These facts make the OSM useful for gauging an individual player’s actual effectiveness in a game, separate from the performances of their teammates.
The top Titans offensive players 25 or under heading into 2020
5. Isaiah Wilson, Offensive Tackle
2019 stats: N/A (rookie)
PFN OSM Grade (2019): N/A
Analysis: Isaiah Wilson is only a rookie, but he’s already considered one of the five best players on the roster under the age of 25. At 6-foot-6, 350-pounds, the team’s future right tackle is a hulking presence with all the tools — at least physically — needed to be successful at the position.
There is some refinement with Wilson that needs to be made, but if he can hit his ceiling, he possesses the ability to be an All-Pro offensive tackle in the NFL. The former five-star prospect is only 21 years old, which also means there is plenty of time to mold the Georgia prospect.
Has Tennessee finally found its long-term bookend counterpart to left tackle Taylor Lewan? That’s the million-dollar question, especially in pass protection, but it’s certainly possible if time is given.
Note: TE Anthony Firkser was an honorable mention.
4. Nate Davis, Interior Offensive Line
2019 stats: 12 starts (13 games played)
PFN OSM Grade (2019): N/A
Analysis: One of the most glaring holes on the roster entering the 2019 season was at right guard, and the Titans addressed that need with the addition of Charlotte offensive lineman Nate Davis in the third round (No. 82 overall) of the 2019 NFL Draft.
Davis proceeded to reward the team by starting 12 games as a rookie, and while there were growing pains along the way, he did prove that he’s a key building block for the future. In fact, the expectations for Davis entering Year 2 are extremely high.
To be in the best position to succeed, Ryan Tannehill needs an effective offensive line to provide protection and a complimentary run game. Davis goes a long way in ensuring both things happen.
3. Corey Davis, Wide Receiver
2019 stats: 43 receptions (69 targets), 601 yards (14.0 YPC), 2 TD
PFN OSM Grade (2019): 33.21 (No. 42 WR)
Analysis: Earlier this offseason, the Titans chose to decline the fifth-year option for former top-10 pick Corey Davis. Does that mean that he’s no longer considered part of the long-term plans? Not necessarily.
In some ways, Davis has been a reliable option over the last two seasons. He racked up 108 catches for 1,492 yards and six touchdowns during that span, but that’s not the kind of consistent production needed from such a high draft pick.
Still, the 6-3, 209-pound pass-catcher out of Western Michigan is one of the most talented players on the roster under 25 years old. Hopefully he can put it all together during a contract year — similarly to Miami Dolphins wide receiver DeVante Parker in 2019.
2. Jonnu Smith, Tight End
2019 stats: 35 receptions (44 targets), 439 yards (12.5 YPC), 3 TD
PFN OSM Grade (2019): 44.32 (No. 1 TE)
Analysis: Jonnu Smith continued to see an increased role in the Titans offense last season, which equated to career-highs in targets (44), receptions (35) and receiving yards (439) while also tying a career-high in touchdowns (3).
With long-time tight end Delanie Walker now permanently out of the picture, Smith is considered a top breakout candidate heading into a season in which he’ll only be 25 years old. As a result, the Florida International product landed the No. 2 spot on this list.
Smith may not be a household name at the moment, but don’t expect that to be the case at the conclusion of the 2020 season.
1. A.J. Brown, Wide Receiver
2019 stats: 52 receptions (84 targets), 1,051 yards (20.2 YPC), 8 TD
PFN OSM Grade (2019): 34.12 (No. 32 WR)
Analysis: When Tennessee landed A.J. Brown in the second round (No. 51 overall) of the 2019 draft, there were several draft pundits who declared the Ole Miss product a steal. To put it bluntly, those pundits were absolutely right.
Despite inconsistency (five of six games with less than 30 total yards) plaguing his production early on, the 6-0, 226-pound member of the PFWA All-Rookie Team had a strong finish in 2019.
Over the last six weeks, Brown was given 26 touches (24 catches, two rushes) that he turned into 667 total yards and six touchdowns while averaging 25.2 yards per catch.
Brown’s 52-catch, 1,000-plus yard season — with eight scores — as a first-year wide receiver has many around the organization believing that the next level is on the horizon.
That belief, on top of his already productive season, is exactly why he was the only option considered to take the top spot on the Titans top offensive players 25 or under list heading into 2020.