The Tennessee Titans should draft Harold Landry, if he is available with the first-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Welcome to another round of Draft Outlook, as I look at possible prospects for the Tennessee Titans to pick this year. I’ve already written one article on DJ Chark, and I plan on doing some more articles as the draft approaches. If you have any suggestions for players, please let me know.
The Titans should draft Harold Landry because he fills a major area of concern for them, which is a consistent pass rusher. According to Football Outsiders, the Titans ranked 21st overall last year in team defense. The team did add Malcolm Butler, which should have positive effects on the defense overall. However, former defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau was heavy into blitzing linebackers. I can’t find a free site to link to that shows blitz percentage, but here is a link to PFF, ranking them in the top 5 for blitz percentage last season, through week 5 of last year. In essence, the defense manufactured sacks because they would send blitzes from different angles, which you can see in the distribution of sacks.
The Titans finished 5th overall in sacks last year with 43 sacks
However, here is the breakdown of the top 5 sack artists on the team:
Derrick Morgan: 7.5 Sacks
Brian Orakpo: 7.0 Sacks
Jurrell Casey: 6.0 Sacks
Wesley Woodyard: 5.0 Sacks
Erik Walden: 4.0 Sacks
Aside from Casey, they are all linebackers with the sacks, and it’s spread out evenly. The Titans used a lot of linebacker blitzes to create pressure, which led to a high amount of sacks, but also a large number of one on one match-ups in the slot. Let’s go back to Football Outsiders, because the defense ranked 24th against opposing tight ends, while ranking dead last against running backs. Now, they ranked 28th against the No. 2 wide receiver as well, but the site doesn’t specify if it was a slot receiver or not. However, tight-ends and running backs are usual hot reads to a blitz, so you can see how opposing offenses were planning around the blitz. The heavy blitzing leaves the defense thin to defend these hot reads, which drags down the overall ability to stop opposing offenses.
To highlight my point, I went through the top 10 teams in terms of overall sacks, and picked out their highest sack total player:
Pittsburgh Steelers: Cameron Heyward (12)
Jacksonville Jaguars: Calais Campbell (14.5)
Carolina Panthers: Julius Peppers and Mario Addison (11)
LA Rams: Aaron Donald (11)
LA Chargers: Joey Bosa (12.5)
Chicago Bears: Akiem Hicks (8.5)
New England Patriots: Trey Flowers (6.5)
New Orleans Saints: Cameron Jordan (13)
Washington Redskins: Ryan Kerrigan (13)
As you can see, most teams have at least one sack “artist”, if you will, that attacks the QB, necessitating less blitzing to create pressure. The New England Patriots had the 31st ranked defense overall, so lacking a true pass rusher hurt them overall. The outlier here is the Bears, as they ranked 14th overall in defense without a 10 plus sacks player.
Dan Pees comes from Baltimore, where he had access to Terrell Suggs as the primary pass rusher, and it’s my belief that the new defensive coordinator will want to add a pass rusher in this draft.
There isn’t any chance (without trading up) that Bradley Chubb drops to the Titans, and Arden Key has far too many issues off the field for a team trying to build character in the locker room. Thankfully, Harold Landry is an option at the first-round pick for the Titans.
The Player: Harold Landry
Harold Landry is an Outside Linebacker/Defensive End from Boston College, who has shown immense potential in the past. I’m going to post a comparison here.
Harold Landry: 16.5
Player A: 17.0
Tackles for Loss:
Harold Landry: 22.0
Player A: 21.5
Harold Landry: 50
Player A: 47
So, who is Player A? It’s Von Miller’s junior season, compared to Harold Landry’s junior season. Miller had an extra game as well, so the per game stats favor Landry. I’m not saying Landry is Von Miller, because he’s not, but I believe he has similar skills sets that allow him to have an impact as a pass rusher. Landry’s stats took a nosedive in his senior year while he dealt with an injured ankle.
For comparison’s sake, I’m going to put up DeMarcus Ware as someone to see the level of talent.
40 Yard Dash:
Harold Landry: 4.64
DeMarcus Ware: 4.56
Harold Landry: 36”
DeMarcus Ware: 38.5”
Harold Landry: 119”
DeMarcus Ware: 122”
20 Yard Shuttle:
Harold Landry: 4.19 Seconds
DeMarcus Ware: 4.07 Seconds
3 Cone Drill:
Harold Landry: 6.83 Seconds
DeMarcus Ware: 6.88 Seconds
As you can see, Ware is the better athlete, but they are fairly similar in almost all of the tests. Once again, I don’t think Landry is DeMarcus Ware, I’m just stating that they are similar athletes, and Ware is superior.
To understand the variety of moves for pass rushers, please read this article from The Ringer. I’m going to highlight the part from Von Miller, but you should check out the whole article, as it provides gif examples with each move. I picked the Von Miller one because his signature move is extremely similar to the move from Harold Landry.
Few defenders in the league are as physically gifted as Miller. The trait that pops off the tape, though, is his flexibility. Miller’s hands and ability to get tackles off his body are underrated compared to his other talents, but it’s what he does afterward that really sets him apart from anyone else.
“Bend” is a term that’s commonly used in regard to pass rushers, and it’s meant to describe how efficiently they can move their hips back in the direction of the quarterback as they glide past an offensive tackle. Miller takes that concept to the extreme, often to a degree that seems to defy our understanding of the general rules of the universe. By dipping his inside shoulder inches from the ground, Miller simultaneously limits the area in which an offensive tackle can latch onto him and redirects his body back in the direction of the man he’s trying to sack.
At times, this can look like an optical illusion. A person shouldn’t be able to get that close to parallel to the ground without falling over. Somehow, Miller does it while darting around a 300-pound lineman tasked with stopping him.
Please do check out the article, it’s a great read and gives people insight into some of the moves used by premier pass rushers. There are plenty of other moves, but it’s a helpful article.
Let’s break down some film from Landry now to see he stacks up against good competition.
This is a great move by Harold Landry, and it’s called a Dip and Bend move from the pass rusher. In this instance, he used his speed to rush up the field, then dips his inside shoulder to prevent the tackle from latching on, and then bends around the corner to make the strip sack here. This move is extremely effective in the NFL now because teams are going more towards a wide 4 look at the line of scrimmage. The whole purpose is to have the offensive lineman react, instead of being aggressive. In traditional sets, a tackle can assume the lack of spacing between him and the guard can prevent an inside run, therefore they can be aggressive in pushing the rusher towards the outside layer of the pocket. When teams go to wide 4 looks, the tackle is geared more towards a one on one match up, therefore they have to protect both the inside and outside routes. In such instances, pass rushers with great dip and bend moves can get around the edges because the lineman can’t react quickly enough to contain the rusher. Here is an example:
This example is from Vic Beasley, one of the premier young pass rushers in the league now. Notice his wide stance in formation, and the spacing issue for the tackle. The tackle can’t be aggressive because Beasley can go towards the inside or the outside, thus he’s reacting rather than being aggressive. Beasley gives a fake move to the inside, then bursts outside to get around the pocket. Afterwards, he executes a very similar dip and bend move on the tackle as he goes for the strip fumble. I’m highlighting this move because I believe it translates extremely well to today’s NFL.
Does that play look like a carbon copy of the Vic Beasley move? Ignore the result of this play because Florida State (and Clemson) are far more talented across the board than Boston College, but just focus in on Landry at the left side of the defensive formation. He gives the exact same hesitation move, then proceeds with the dip and bend move, albeit it’s too late as FSU throws for the touchdown.
Do you see a pattern? Rush up the field, dip and bend into the pocket. Once again, FSU throws for the touchdown, but Landry is showing off his ability to rush the passer.
If you want a con to his game, it’s that he gets stood up at the line at times by bigger physical tackles because Landry lacks an array of moves. He’s quick off the line and possesses the dip and bend move to help him get around the tackles. However, his wingspan is only in the 38th percentile according to MockDraftAble, which allows tackles with longer arms to attack him first and impede his progress. You will see this type of play far too often from him, where he progress is stopped because he can’t rush up the field with a bull rush. It’s also worth noting that Landry may have outside contain on this play, which prevents him from being overly aggressive around the edge, but you can see how the tackle prohibits him from getting back into the play.
In this instance, you see Landry rush up the field, and then disengage to make the tackle on the running back, providing some support towards the running game. It’s much harder to decipher the effects of Landry on the defense because he’s tasked with being the star, while being around inferior talent, which may cause him to take on too much responsibility.
You can see the explosiveness off the line of scrimmage as he uses his speed to rush to the outside of the tackle, and then dip and bend towards the QB for the sack. His main asset is the speed to beat the tackle to a spot and then turn the corner, which can be extremely useful for the NFL and fits a need for the Titans.
Once again, we see the speed off the line of scrimmage, which helps him beat what is essentially a double team in this case. The offense is using a chip block with the tight end on this play to counteract the speed of Landry. The tight end is supposed to hit Landry before releasing towards his route, which allows the tackle enough time to recover on the inside. However, Landry is too fast and strong for the tight end and beats the tackle for the spot, which allows him to make the strip sack. It’s another case of speed off the line creating havoc.
This play is interesting because it’s one of the few times that he tries to be technical in his approach towards the tackle. Instead of using speed, Landry attacks high on the tackle, then swipes away his arm to get a clear path to the QB. Don’t pay attention to the result of the this play, but rather the technical aspect of this rush because it is a deviation for Landry. He needs to improve the technical aspects of his game and learn more pass rushing moves to thrive in the NFL.
I wanted to put this play in here to show just how low he can get, much like what you read in that article about Von Miller and how he still keeps his balance to head up the field. Notice how low his inside shoulder is, at which point the tackle doesn’t have anywhere to latch onto, thus being completely left in the dust. I thought this was a great angle with the dip and bend move.
Pro: Harold Landry shows an extremely well-polished dip and bend move that reminds me of Von Miller. He’s very quick off the line of scrimmage, attacks down the field, and has decent ability to protect the perimeter against the run. One of the biggest issues in breaking down film with Landry is the lack of talent around him, which allow offenses to target plays away from the talented defender. He’s a very good speed rusher as of now, and for a team like the Titans, he can be an excellent option near the end of the first round.
Con: While Landry possesses a great dip and bend move, he’s is fairly limited in his arsenal. If he can’t rush up the field, he has trouble breaking away from the tackle, especially with a low wingspan. His production took a major dip in his senior year, but he was also dealing with an injury, so it’s hard to decipher. I believe he was a lock to be a top 15 pick after his junior season, and I wouldn’t drop him too far for the injury plagued season.
Titans Fit: He fits the need for the Titans because they require a pass rusher. It also is fitting that current head coach Mike Vrabel is a former linebacker, who can help teach Landry some of the nuances of rushing the passer. He can’t rely on one move consistently in the NFL, but if he learns to use his hands better to cut across to the inside, then he’s an elite talent. He posses great speed off the line, and an elite move to get to the quarterback. However, he has too many plays where he will be taken out completely, so he has to learn to switch up his arsenal of weapons. If he can improve the technical aspects of his game, he will be an Pro-Bowl caliber pass rusher. In case he can’t improve the technical aspects, he’ll be a situational pass rusher, who will be extremely inconsistent. If Landry already had the technical aspects down pat, he would be a top 10 pick in this draft.
Verdict: I’d be perfectly fine with picking Harold Landry with the first round choice for the Tennessee Titans.
Once again, thanks for checking in with us for another draft outlook series. I’m not sure who my next target should be. I’m thinking about going back into the wide receiver pool with someone like Anthony Miller or Equanimeous St. Brown, but those guys have been getting a lot of hype lately. Any suggestions? I’m also launching my real estate blog this week, so feel free to check it out. And No, I will not be posting Gifs of the real estate transaction process. Although, if I do list a home, I plan on doing a scouting report on the home to make it stand out. Please like, share, and subscribe, and thanks for reading.
Primarily, I work as a real estate agent at Keller Williams Realty in Franklin, Tennessee. I’ve lived in Nashville for almost a decade now, and my love for the city only grows deeper, like a 440 pothole. I follow the Titans closely, so I enjoy writing about the team and breaking down film. However, my main job consists of being a real estate agent, therefore if you need any kind of help with the sale/purchase of a home, I’d be happy to help you through the process. If you just want to talk about real estate, feel free to email me as well. I write a real estate blog as well, which I’ll leave a link to at the bottom of this section (as well as a few other places on the website) so please check it out.
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