Can DeMarco Murray lead the Tennessee Titans to the playoffs?
It’s certainly on the minds of the fans in the Music City, and they have every right to be excited for the addition of a former NFL rushing leader. Just don’t expect Murray to step in and play at an elite level right off the bat, as the Titans need to address some holes on their offensive line first.
There is nothing sexy about the Tennessee O-line. In fact, it’s downright repulsive. Pro Football Focus named the Titans offensive core the 29th worst line in all of football. To make matters worse, they ranked 28th in run blocking, not good news for Murray.
The Titans have tried feverishly to improve the line over the years. They have selected offensive lineman in the first round two of the last three years, selecting Chance Warmack with the 10th pick in 2013, and Taylor Lewan at pick 11 in 2014. Lewan might be the lone bright spot on the teams offensive line.
He was named to the PFWA All-Rookie Team in 2014, and has proven to be a reliable option for the Titans.
Meanwhile, Warmack hasn’t lived up to the billing of a first round pick. He was part of a 2013 draft class that featured four offensive lineman selections in the first ten picks. Considered a can’t miss prospect, Warmack can safely be labeled as a bust.
As if Warmack wasn’t a big enough liability, two of the Titans starting lineman last season were undrafted free agents (Byron Bell, Quinton Spain) and neither was very effective.
It seems the only logical solution for the Titans is drafting an offensive lineman with the top selection in the upcoming draft, and hoping he is more Lewan than Warmack. Luckily, Laremy Tunsil is one of the best prospects in years.
Considered by almost all draft analysts as the best draft eligible player in this year’s draft, Tunsil is an ideal selection for the Titans.
Standing 6’5 and weighing 305 lbs, the Ole Miss standout has been considered an NFL prospect since his high school days, when he was named a USA Today All-American. During his time in college, Tunsil was named to the All-SEC team twice.
That’s the kind of talent Murray is used to playing behind.
DeMarco Murray had the luxury of playing behind two of the best run blocking units in the league with Philadelphia and Dallas. Last season, Murray fell victim to the strange coaching style of Chip Kelly. He wasn’t given a full workload, and as a result had a very subpar season.
Tennessee on the other hand will give Murray all the touches we can handle. But that might not equate to much if he doesn’t have anyone to block for him. And it’s going to require more than just Tunsil and Lewan to right the ship.
Now the team’s permanent head coach, Mike Mularkey needs to build the offensive line more than any other position on the field. Not only do you have Murray to protect, but also quarterback, Marcus Mariota, who had his share of problems with the Tennessee lineman as well.
The Titans need to find a solution to the offensive line issues fast. Murray is already 28 years of age, so that elite level of production won’t last much longer. The draft is integral to this process. Taking Tunsil is a start, but finding the right guys in the third or fourth round is where the team will thrive.
You want to give your best players the opportunity to succeed. At this time, the Titans simply don’t have the pieces in place for Murray to be effective. It’s going to be a struggle for Tennessee this year. And if the team can’t solve their offensive line dilemma, the same can be said for DeMarco Murray.
Follow Daniel James Gentile on twitter @dgentleman9288