Titans' youth on offensive line could hold them back

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Could the Titans' offensive line be too young and inexperienced to have big-time success?

Anything can happen, of course.

In the system put together by coach Mike Mularkey, coordinator Terry Robiskie and offensive line coach Russ Grimm, maybe the group fares far better protecting Marcus Mariota and making room for the running backs, now headlined by DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry.

But it’s going to be a young group without much experience. Vincent Masi of ESPN Stats and Info broke down the 30 most productive offensive lines of the last three seasons.

For 2013, 2014 and 2015, he pulled the five best run-blocking units and the five best pass-protecting units.

He measured the run blocking based on rushing efficiency: the rushing offense's contribution to scoring margin on per-play basis, adjusted for strength of opposing defenses faced.

He measured the pass protection based on ESPN’s metric outlined here.

Those 30 lines started the season in question with an average of 4.1 years of NFL experience, an average of 53.4 games played, an average of 44.8 games started and an average of 0.6 Pro Bowl appearances.

Let’s presume the Titans start left tackle Taylor Lewan, center Ben Jones, right guard Chance Warmack and right tackle Jack Conklin. The left guard will be second-year man Quinton Spain, second-year man Jeremiah Poutasi or rookie Sebastian Tretola.

The most experience the Titans could have with that unit would be an average of two years experience on opening day, 29.4 games, 20.4 starts and zero Pro Bowls.

With those numbers, the Titans would have lower averages in years, starts and games than any of the top 30 lines of the last three seasons.

“We’ve got a lot of talent here, we’ve got a lot of first-round picks,” said Jones, who’s the old man of the group with four years of experience. “It’s great to have that opportunity with these guys that we can build on. To have such a young group who is willing to work and to grind every day, I think it’s a blessing to have that.”

Mularkey said the Titans can’t worry about the composition of the line.

“It is what it is, we’re in that position right now,” he said. “We’ve got a number of high picks up there working, competing for jobs. I don’t know if it’s a negative. I think the negative is if you don’t have the same five over time.

“I see that as more of a negative than the five that are up there. If it’s five young guys and they are there all the time and they’re getting to work together and communicate together, then I think they should be all right.”