Training camp is officially underway in Nashville, and there are various position battles that Titans fans should keep their eyes on. In this position preview, we’ll take a look at the Titans quarterback room in 2020. Behind starter Ryan Tannehill, there is some uncertainty surrounding the depth at the position. The Titans currently have three QBs on their roster, and a battle for the backup spot behind Tannehill is going to be something to monitor throughout training camp in 2020.
The battle for the backup quarterback job is going to be one of the more intriguing storylines coming out of Titans camp this season. Rookie Cole McDonald and third-year player Logan Woodside are the only other QBs on the roster outside of Tannehill. At the moment, the Titans seem content with letting McDonald and Woodside battle it out for the backup job, but if neither show promise during training camp, the Titans could look to add veteran depth at the position before the season starts.
A battle of young quarterbacks for the backup spot in Tennessee
Logan Woodside looking for his chance in the NFL
The Cincinnati Bengals previously drafted Logan Woodside in the seventh round of the 2018 NFL draft, but the team waived him before the season began. The Titans signed Woodside to their practice squad just two days after he was waived. He stayed on the Titans practice squad for just over a month in his rookie season but was eventually cut. After being cut by the Titans, Woodside joined the Alliance of American Football (AAF) for its brief existence. In seven games of action, he posted below-average stats with the San Antonio Commanders throwing for 1,385 yards, seven touchdowns, and eight interceptions.
Woodside rejoined the Titans practice squad after the AAF ceased operations in 2019, but after practicing with the Titans for a few months, he suffered an undisclosed injury that would put him on the injured reserve list for the remainder of 2019.
Woodside could return back to the Titans practice squad in 2020
When looking at what makes Woodside an intriguing prospect, there isn’t any statistical area that separates him from any other quarterback in the league. His arm strength is below average, and his 6’1, 213-pound frame isn’t ideal for the position. All signs point to Woodside being an average backup quarterback in the NFL.
The Titans are happy to have Woodside on the team in 2020. However, if Tannehill were to go down due to injury, Tennessee would be in trouble if Woodside is the best option for them to turn to at the QB position.
Seventh-rounder Cole McDonald could be a potential steal
In the 2019 NFL Draft, the Titans selected Cole McDonald with the 224th overall pick in the seventh-round. McDonald is an intriguing prospect out of the University of Hawaii, and it came as a bit of a surprise that he didn’t go earlier in the draft. Coming out of college, McDonald was labeled by most analysts as a developmental quarterback due to his questionable decision making.
One thing that had scouts and analysts talking up McDonald entering the NFL draft was his arm strength. McDonald has a powerful arm and has the ability to make throws just about anywhere on the football field. If he can improve upon his accuracy and learn to reduce risky throws, he could prove to be an incredible asset for the Titans in the future.
The athleticism of quarterback Cole McDonald is what makes him so intriguing
One area that could separate McDonald from Woodside in the race for the Titans’ backup QB job is his speed and athleticism. In 2019, McDonald rushed for 383 yards and seven touchdowns. While these numbers aren’t eye-popping, McDonald’s ability to get outside of the pocket and complete throws on the move is what makes him a unique prospect.
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McDonald’s speed is also a difference-maker on the football field. While I wouldn’t label him a dual-threat quarterback, he certainly has the ability to make defenses pay if they don’t account for his rushing ability. McDonald posted the fastest 40-yard dash time in comparison to all other QBs in the 2020 NFL Draft. He ran a 4.58 40-yard time, barely outracing dual-threat quarterback Jalen Hurts, who ran a 4.59.
Ryan Tannehill is the unquestioned starting quarterback for the Titans in 2020
Coming off of a brand new contract extension, the Titans are expecting big things out of Tannehill in 2020. Tannehill gave the Titans just the spark they needed when he took over the starting job from Marcus Mariota in Week 7 of last season. Both he and rookie wide receiver A.J. Brown developed a strong rapport from the start, and the Titans are banking on both of them to continue finding success in 2020.
Just how outstanding was Tannehill in 2019? He posted the highest Offensive Share Metric in comparison to any QB last season. Tannehill averaged 9.6 yards per attempt, which was the highest per attempt number in the league. He also posted the third-highest completion percentage, completing 70.3% of his passes. If Tannehill can build off of last year’s success, the sky is the limit for the Titans in 2020.
Which Titans quarterback will be backing up Tannehill in 2020?
As intriguing as McDonald is, he isn’t ready to see the field for the Titans in 2020. His skill set is simply too raw, meaning he needs a full year to learn under quarterbacks coach Pat O’Hara and head coach Mike Vrabel. The same can be said for Woodside, but it’s unlikely that the Titans keep both quarterbacks on the team in 2020. However, it also wouldn’t come as much of a surprise if neither of them made the Titans active roster this season.
The Titans could more than likely bring a veteran free-agent quarterback in to compete with McDonald and Woodside for the backup position. Options like Blake Bortles, Josh McCown, and Sam Bradford are just a few potential free agents that the Titans could target. If this is the case, look for the Titans to part ways with Woodside, and send McDonald to the practice squad.