Pro Football Focus recently ranked the running back groups of every team in the NFL going into the 2022 season, and the Tennessee Titans’ unit landed in the top 10.
According to PFF’s Ben Linsey, the Titans running backs group ranks sixth in the NFL, putting it in the “good backfield” tier.
When ranking individual running backs, I pointed out that there’s some evidence to suggest that running backs start to take a step back after recording 1,500 NFL carries. At nearly 250 pounds and with roughly 4,500 rushing yards in the last two-and-a-half seasons, Derrick Henry isn’t your typical running back. Still, his workload is worth noting as he returns from injury.
The Titans still would have landed in Tier 1 with more proven depth behind Henry. Fourth-round rookie Hassan Haskins will have a good chance to earn the No. 2 role behind Henry after recording a 91.2 PFF grade in his final season at Michigan last year.
The five teams ranked ahead of the Titans are as follows, from one to five: Cleveland Browns, Indianapolis Colts, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings and New Orleans Saints.
The one carrying the Titans in these rankings is no doubt Derrick Henry, who is coming off a season in which he missed nine games due to a serious foot injury, the first of The King’s career.
As a result of Henry’s injury last year, combined with his age climbing closer to 30 (he turned 28 in January), there are some doubts about Henry returning to the form we saw the previous two years.
You won’t find that doubt on this site, though. We believe Henry will return to form and remain the same dominant player he has been, which makes him a great bet to win the Comeback Player of the Year.
You also won’t find us jumping ship and handing over the crown of the best back in the NFL to the Colts’ Jonathan Taylor. He’s no doubt a great player, but let’s see Taylor dominate like Henry did for multiple years, and outproduce a healthy Henry for the course of an entire season first.
Behind Henry is some uncertainty, though.
The Titans drafted Michigan running back Hassan Haskins in the fourth round, no doubt hoping he can help take some pressure off Henry, and perhaps become the long-term solution at the position down the road.
Should Haskins prove he can hang in the NFL, the Titans will have an impressive, hard-running duo to lead their run-heavy offense.
Along with Haskins, we believe Dontrell Hilliard is a near-lock to make the roster. Hilliard was effective in tandem with D’Onta Foreman when both helped replace Henry during his injury stint in 2021.
Battling for a roster spot behind Hilliard and Haskins (assuming the Titans carry a fourth running back) is Trenton Cannon, Jordan Wilkins and Julius Chestnut. Cannon’s ability to play on special teams gives him a leg up on Wilkins and Chestnut.
Despite some questions in the backfield, the Titans’ run game will always be elite as long as Henry is healthy and still at the top of his game. We fully expect that to be the case in 2022.