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Ranking the Titans Running backs and Fullbacks

Steve Shoup

In the coming weeks I will do a series of posts on the Tennessee Titans and how their players stack up at each position. These Tiers are an indication of what talent level can reasonably be expected of each player for the 2013 season. Future potential and contract status are not really taken into consideration, as this is more an indication of a players talent level and expected production.

Tier 1:

Description: Top level starter, at elite or near elite level, absolute lock to both make the team and start. Won’t face any competition for his job.

Chris Johnson:

-Johnson is a borderline Tier 1 and Tier 2 player, his first three years in the league he was a Tier 1 player, but has been less effective the last two years. Despite the downward trend, I think Johnson is a fair bet to significantly improve his game this season. Now he might not be a 2,000 yard back again, but he could be back in the league’s top tier. While the Titans will likely still lack the balance of a passing attack, they have significantly bolstered their offensive line and tight end positions (at least from a blocking perspective) this offseason. Add in the fact that Tennessee appears to be very run centric and may even incorporate some option looks, and Johnson could be in for a big season. In addition to his rushing value, Johnson should be a solid weapon out of the backfield for Jake Locker.

Tier 2:

Description: Quality starter who may have some minor struggles in a given year, but overall is a good football player. Typically just outside the elite/near elite level. Should both easily make the team and start. Will be one of the key players on the team.


Tier 3:

Description: Passable starter, can play the position and be okay, but won’t consistently play at a high level. Will be streaky throughout the season and over the course of many seasons. Depending on position would be better served as a good role player, or would be the best reserve player at a position. Should make the team, though not a lock and should face competition for a starting job.


Tier 4:

Description: Replacement level starter. This is a guy who could start in a pinch or as a long-term injury replacement but will max out as an average starter, and will probably be below average. He’s a guy who could be okay as a short term filler, but over an extended period will struggle. Depending on position could be a solid player, or would be a good back-up. Has a decent chance to make the team, and could get a look at a starting job, but nothing is set in stone for him.

Shonn Greene:

-Despite being a back-to-back 1,000 yard back, Greene was miscast in the feature role in New York. He’s just not dynamic enough to warrant 20+ carries a game. Where he can be effective is as a change of pace guy or back-up role where he’s getting 5-10 carries a game. Greene can be a fairly effective between the tackles runner and should give Tennessee a better option in short yardage situations. Greene will also give the Titans another viable option this year to Chris Johnson, which should allow him to be be fresher down the stretch. Last year no back other than Johnson managed even 20 carries. That simply couldn’t happen again, and won’t with Greene in the fold. Greene isn’t much of a receiver or pass blocker, but for the Titans purposes he fits just fine.

Tier 5:

Description: Solid back-up caliber player. Shouldn’t really ever start, and would be below average in that capacity, but can be a short term injury replacement. Shouldn’t even be much of a role player depending on the position, their best value is in their reliability as a replacement. Depending on the position, should be capable of backing up multiple positions or roles to increase their value. Has a chance to make the team, but really shouldn’t be considered a starting option at all.

Quinn Johnson:

-Johnson was Chris Johnson‘s primary lead blocker last season. Prior to that he had a rough time keeping a job, though he got a couple looks around the league. Quinn Johnson was pretty solid last year as a blocker, but he doesn’t offer much as a rusher or receiver. He should make the team, but he needs to get more consistent to ensure he wins the fullback job.

Jalen Parmele:

-Parmele was bouncing around the league since 2008, but got a bit of a chance last year with the Jaguars. He’s a bigger back who can be a quality short yardage option and also help on special teams. He is coming off an injury so there is some concern there, but if he’s healthy he could win a spot on this team.

Darius Reynaud:

-Reynaud has kicked around the league for a couple of years, but finally found a niche with the Titans last year. Reynaud wasn’t too effective as a runner or receiver last year, but was one of the league’s most productive return men. He will once again be given a shot to earn a roster spot as a returner, though he likely won’t be locked in with a job.

Tier 6:

Description: Replacement level player. Not considered at all for a starting role, and isn’t even considered a viable back-up. Really only has a shot to make the team if injuries thin out the competition. Overall has a poor chance to make a roster, and is a player who will likely be replaced during the season.

Collin Mooney:

-Mooney the former Army fullback spent much of the year on the practice squad last year, before being called up at the end of the season as an injury replacement. Mooney is a solid blocker, but really doesn’t grade out well in any particular category. He’s likely just a training camp body.

Alvester Alexander:

-Alexander had a solid career at Wyoming, and was picked up last year as an UDFA by the Colts. He has since bounced around between the Colts and the Titans practice squads and offseason rosters. He has a slight frame and is not really a between the tackle runner, but does have some added utility as a returner. He is real long shot to make the team, but could get another look on the Titans practice squad.


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