Rookie Watch: Harold Landry Brings Youthful Energy To The Tennessee Titans Pass Rush

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The current Tennessee Titans starting edge rushers, Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan, are getting old. Their contracts also expire after the 2018 season. Harold Landry looks to fill the hole.


The Tennessee Titans Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan are a great pair of edge rushers. From 2015-2017, the teammates combined for 45 sacks. However, Orakpo, age 32, and Morgan, age 29, are nearing the age where their bodies will start breaking down. Both of their contracts are up at the end of the 2018 season as well.

Behind Orakpo and Morgan was a lot of mediocrity. Kevin Dodd has one sack in two seasons. Aaron Wallace also only has one sack over two seasons. The Titans are in dire need of not only a young replacement for their aging pass rushers but depth in 2018.

Enter Boston College defensive end Harold Landry.

College Production

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Landry started his college career in a backup role at Boston College. He earned the starting defensive end role three games into his sophomore season and was immediately productive with 60 total tackles, 16 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, and three forced fumbles. In his junior season, Landry exploded with 50 tackles, 22 tackles for loss, 18 sacks, four passes defended, one interception, and seven forced fumbles in 12 games.

Landry was named an All-American and first-team All-ACC. He struggled a bit his senior year with an ankle injury, which hindered his production. Landry only had 38 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, five sacks, and two passes defended in eight games in 2017.

Landry’s junior season was absolutely monstrous. He had 69 total quarterback pressures and a 17.5 pass-rush productivity, which was tops for edge defenders in the power-5 conferences. PFF gave him an 89.4 grade for that season, which would have been fourth for the 2018 NFL draft class among edge defenders. Landry’s 2016 season was enough for PFF to put him as the number one on their edge defended big board for the 2018 NFL draft.

While Landry is much more known for his elite pass rushing ability, he is no slouch against the run. In his 2015 season, Landry led the nation in run stop percentage among defensive ends.

NFL Preseason

Landry was drafted by the Titans 41st overall in the second round of the 2018 NFL draft. The Titans traded up to draft Landry.

Landry was given the chance to work with the first-team defense early on in training camp with Orakpo sitting out due to injury. This allowed Landry to work against a Pro Bowl tackle in Taylor Lewan. Landry received praise from linebackers coach Shane Bowen and Lewan, both stating that Landry works and gets better every day. Landry demonstrated his pass rushing abilities multiple times throughout camp.

In Landry’s first NFL game action, Landry made an impact. Getting the start with Orakpo out against the Packers in week 1 of the preseason, Landry only had one tackle. However, that one tackle turned out to be a sack and forced fumble. Landry’s stats do not tell the whole story, either. He was pressuring the quarterback throughout his time on the field.

In the Titans’ second preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Landry started with the first team again. He did not record a tackle. Again, the statistics do not tell the whole story. Landry put pressure on the Buccaneers quarterbacks, including blowing past the right tackle and drawing a holding penalty to negate a touchdown. The play was big because the Titans held the Buccaneers to a field goal.

For his work in the first two preseason games, Landry was graded as the best rookie edge defender through the first two weeks of the preseason by PFF.

Unfortunately, Landry sprained his ankle in the Titans third preseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He missed the rest of the preseason due to the injury.

NFL Regular Season

Landry was forced to miss the Titans week 1 game against the Miami Dolphins. He made his debut in week 2 against the Houston Texans. Playing 35 snaps, Landry accounted for zero tackles but did hit the quarterback twice. Once again, though he did not get home, Landry was harassing Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson all game. Sensing a theme here? Towards the end of the game, Landry was such an issue that the Texans had to double team him.

Against the Jacksonville Jaguars in week 3, Landry saw 27 defensive snaps, making two solo tackles. Yet again, Landry was all over the field, influencing play after play. One of his pass rushes forced Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles out of the pocket, helping to seal the Titans win on one of the Jaguars final drives.

The Titans played the defending champion Philadelphia Eagles in week 4. Landry had the best game of his young career, making his presence well known throughout the game. Landry had four tackles, three solo, two tackles for loss, one quarterback hit, and finally the first sack of his career. The sack was one of the biggest plays of the game, as it was a strip sack in the fourth quarter to help keep the game within reach. The Titans eventually tied the game and won in overtime.

The Titans week 5 game against the Buffalo Bills was much less exciting than week 4. Landry only accounted for two tackles. He did have an impact, forcing a bad throw from Bills quarterback Josh Allen, resulting in an interception.

Through the first four weeks of the season. PFF gave Landry the second best grade among rookie edge rushers.

Summary

The Tennessee Titans starting edge rushers Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan are getting up there in age. Both of their contracts expire after the 2018 season as well. Combined with their lack of depth at the position, the Titans drafted Harold Landry in the second round of the 2018 draft.

Thus far in the 2018 season, Landry has shown that he is one of the best young pass rushers in the NFL. He has been impactful in all of the games he has played thus far, harrassing the quarterback up and down the field. Landry is still learning the position as well, so he has room to grow.

Unfortunately, Landry plays at outside linebacker for the Titans. Because the linebacker position in lumped together and most leagues value tackles over sacks, outside linebackers are much less valuable than middle and inside linebackers in IDP. Unless Landry moves to defensive end, your league uses the edge defender designation, or Landry starts to put up Von Miller and Khalil Mack type numbers, he probably should not be rostered in most leagues. He is a good stash, however, in deep dynasty leagues. Continue to monitor his progression and pick him up if he starts to accumulate good numbers.

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Started playing fantasy football with my dad 15 years ago. Still have no idea what I am doing. Just trying to pass on any analysis I can to help you win.