Each week, theScore will go division by division, highlighting which three players’ performances will most impact their team’s season in 2017.
The Titans made Davis the first receiver taken in the 2017 NFL Draft and the fifth overall pick for a reason. They expect him to contribute immediately to a team on the brink of a postseason renaissance.
Wideout was the greatest area of need for the team entering this year’s draft. Since 2012, the Titans have used first- or second-round picks on receivers Kendall Wright, Justin Hunter, and Dorial Green-Beckham. In short, Tennessee is hoping Davis produces better results than his predecessors.
The Titans will aim to have a much more balanced offense in 2017 after ranking third in rushing and 25th in passing last season. While pivot Marcus Mariota blossomed in his sophomore season, he’s in need of much more dangerous weapons. A tight end was tied for the most receptions on the team and a running back placed third on that list. Davis needs to have an impact in order for the Titans’ offense to take the next step.
If you’re going to poach from one team, let it be the Patriots.
The Titans signed New England’s former starting cornerback to a three-year deal. Ryan became expendable after the Patriots signed Stephon Gilmore in free agency. In Ryan, Tennessee gets a reliable starter who can take over from the dispatched Jason McCourty.
The Titans were third-last in passing defense in 2016, allowing 269 yards per game through the air. Ryan alone will not turn the unit around, but he’s a good place to start while rookie Adoree’ Jackson acclimatizes himself to the NFL.
How Mariota recovers from the fractured fibula he suffered in Week 16 of last year will greatly impact how the Titans fare in 2017.
Mariota was enjoying a career year, throwing for 3,426 yards and 26 touchdowns against just nine interceptions, and had the Titans at 8-6 and in the playoff race. If Tennessee is to improve on its 9-7 showing, the team will need its franchise quarterback back at full strength.
One of the underrated aspects of Mariota’s game is his running ability. He hasn’t flashed it often in the pros, but he has displayed elusiveness and broke off three runs of 20-plus yards in 2016.
Mariota expects to be near full health by Week 1 of the regular season. If he is at all timid, however, and a sitting duck in the pocket, it may delay the Titans’ projected ascendance to the top of the AFC South.
Also from this series
- 3 players who will have the biggest impact on the Texans’ season
- 3 players who will have the biggest impact on the Colts’ season
- 3 players who will have the biggest impact on the Jaguars’ season
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