Although the Tennessee Titans didn’t select a defensive end until the seventh round of the draft, they did address the pass rush, though not directly, in the second round. A few things Mike Munchak said over the weekend seem to have gone largely unnoticed, so I decided to bring them up again here.
Second-round draft pick OLB Zach Brown has pass rush skills, according to Munchak, but what’s more significant, at least to me, is the other way he’ll improve the pass rush.
Munchak also said the plan is for Brown to be on the field in nickel, which will free up Akeem Ayers to become a pass rusher. In February, I wrote that I considered Ayers to be one of only three guys, along with Karl Klug and Cortland Finnegan, who were effective pass rushers for the Titans last year, so using him more often in that capacity this year seems like a good move. More after the jump.
Here are two tidbits from Munchak following Brown’s selection on Friday night.
“We like to bring that linebacker, he has good rush skills, he had five sacks this year as an outside linebacker and that’s something that we really haven’t had from that position.”
“Playing the sub package is another thing that allows us to move Akeem (Ayers) to do something else on third down that we think he could be better at, so it gives us a lot of options.”
Munchak elaborated further on Saturday night, in a recap of the draft:
“[Ayers] played the Will linebacker in nickel and that’s where Zach Brown becomes such a big pick where he can maybe do that and free Akeem up to be more part of that rotation. That’s where those pieces of the puzzle we’re trying to figure out how important it is to get a Will linebacker. We needed a starter there, plus the fact that he can play nickel all of a sudden Akeem frees up and he becomes a rush end some…. Does that mean he’s going to be a true defensive end, no. It just means he’s going to have an opportunity to work more in that position and with his speed—I’m not sure of his sack total, but again he had some nice pressures on the quarterback. The Carolina game comes to memory when he had to play end quite a bit. He had a sack or two in that game, so he has the skills to be very good at the rush end.”
For those who were disappointed that the Titans didn’t draft a defensive end early in the draft, perhaps this will make them feel a little better about the pass rush.