The final four in the NFL is quite the diverse group.
We have a veteran coach with a young quarterback who he saw something great in in Kansas City. They built quite differently than the team they are hosting in the AFC Championship game, the Tennessee Titans.
Let’s take a look at how the Titans snuck into the playoffs and then ran through two of the best defenses (1st and 4th in Football Outsiders defense DVOA) in the NFL.
RB - Derrick Henry (2016 2nd round pick), Dion Lewis (2011 5th round pick by Eagles, signed a 4 year $20 million contract with Titans in 2018)
WR - Corey Davis (2017 1st round pick)
WR- A.J. Brown (2019 2nd round pick)
WR - Adam Humphries (2015 UDFA Bucs, signed 4 year $36 million contract)
TE - Jonnu Smith (2017 3rd round pick)
TE - Adam Firkser (2017 UDFA Jets)
LT - Taylor Lewan (2014 1st round pick, signed 5 year $80 million contract extension in 2018)
LG - Rodger Saffold (2010 2nd round pick Rams, signed 4 year $44 million contract in 2019)
C - Ben Jones (2012 4th round pick Texans, signed 4 year contract in 2016 and 2 year extension this year)
RG - Nate Davis (2019 3rd round pick)
RT - Jack Conklin (2016 1st round pick)
Offense overall - A lot of draft picks. The Titans have since 2014 have had records of: 2-14, 3-13, 9-7, 9-7, 9-7, 9-7.
They missed on a top two quarterback, but continued to build around the position. They have three first round picks on the offensive side of the ball (technically four with Tannehill, but three of their own), and a second and third round pick at wide receiver and tight end in Brown and Smith. They have continued to throw massive draft resources at the offense to try and give Mariota help, and it seems like once they understood the limitations of Mariota, and went to Tanne, things have taken off.
Saffold’s deal is again comparable to Justin Pugh along the offensive line, so the question is can Humphries be as good as Lewan, or are the Cardinals two tackles away if they follow the Titans route.
LDE - Jeffrey Simmons (2019 1st round pick)
NT - DaQuan Jones (2014 4th round pick)
DT - Jurrell Casey (2011 3rd round pick)
OLB - Harold Landry (2018 2nd round pick
LB - Rashaan Evans (2018 1st round pick)
LB - Jayon Brown (2017 5th round pick)
OLB - Kamalei Correa (2016 2nd round pick Ravens, traded to Titans for 6th round pick)
CB - Logan Ryan (2013 3rd round pick Patriots, Signed 3 year $30 million in 2017 with Titans)
CB - Adoree’ Jackson (2017 1st round pick)
SS - Kenny Vacarro (2013 1st round pick Saints, signed one-year contract with Titans in 2018, signed 4 year $26 million extension in 2019)
FS- Kevin Byard (2016 3rd round pick)
Defense Overall: The Titans have eight home grown picks starting on their roster, 15 of their overall starters are from draft picks.
The question is where are the Cardinals in the drafting of their starters? Right now, they have only four starters on the offense and six on defense.
I think building in this manner is probably unrealistic, especially if the Cardinals are not bringing back Humphries like so many want.
The other thing, the Titans had two big trade downs that allowed them to rack up early draft picks.
Could the Cardinals follow suit? This seems like a nice five-year plan for the Cardinals.