Titans 53 prediction, safeties, May
Kevin Byard, Kevin Byard, Kevin Byard…that’s what our offseason has been like. Whether it was discussing potential safeties in the draft or praising his development as a rookie, Byard has been a hot topic. Naturally, Byard will be penciled in as one starter.
The strong safety spot will be manned by Da’Norris Searcy. The Titans incumbent played “good” last season. There isn’t a pressing need to replace him per se, but there is a desire to make a splash and “make something happen.”
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The Titans brought in Johnathan Cyprien from the Jacksonville Jaguars. He is outstanding in run support yet pretty weak in coverage. Lebeau plays three safeties in the game far more often than most people notice. Cyprien is going to be Lebeau’s guy. A team doesn’t just sign a safety with poor coverage habits “out of the blue.” He’s aggressive and determined against the run. I would guess Lebeau believes he can “iron out” Cyprien’s issues in coverage. Maybe a year of tweaking his game will have Cyprien starting in year two. I would not be surprised if Cyprien is the panic inside linebacker- some runner is gashing the defense, so Lebeau subs Cyprien in to try and put an end to that. The lack of coverage ability makes Cyprien a real curious offseason addition.
Curtis Riley was mentioned earlier. The former cornerback turned safety offers an extra roster spot with his ability to play two positions.
Brynden Trawick is a special teams dynamo that was brought over from the Oakland Raiders.
Denzel Johnson will soon sign his undrafted free agent contract and Ball State’s Aaron Taylor will be at Friday’s rookie camp on a tryout. They are both strong safeties not likely to make the team. Johnson is a former cornerback that could certainly challenge Riley and offer the same “extra” roster spot value by playing safety and corner.
Trawick is the backup at free safety behind Byard. He has been a third and fourth string free safety throughout his career. He did play well in week 17 last season, but otherwise, he hasn’t been relied upon. I’m curious if the Titans will play him as the backup free safety or if they still have “something up their sleeve” as far as an offseason move.
Last year’s early season starter at free safety was Rashad Johnson. Last year’s safety and dime-backer was Daimion Stafford. Stafford is more of strong safety. I think it’s possible the team re-signs either of these two. It’s possible they add a free agent or trade for a player. It’s possible there are some undrafted free agents that have yet to be announced but will show up Friday.
Johnson played a whole lot last year, even after Byard took his starting spot.
As you can see, Johnson was still in on 40-60 percent of the snaps. There’s a common notion that Byard replaced him and he sat on the sideline the second half of the season. This is completely false. Lebeau employed three safeties often.
Now in a circular fashion, we go back to Cyprien’s inability to cover well and how Trawick is usually a depth player. Jon Robinson told Jim Wyatt “he has some coverage ability” and called him a “defensive role player.” That’s not exactly a glowing representation for a guy that would play 40-60 percent of snaps. Here PFF wrote of Cyprien,”His coverage was still far from ideal.” All of this just furthers my point- I believe the Titans will still add a free safety and the roster is unfinished here. The position’s importance (backup free safety) has been sorely understated all offseason, but that doesn’t mean the spot has been filled.