NASHVILLE, Tenn. – After naming Avery Williamson the Titans Defensive Rookie of the Year, let's move on to the team's offensive rookies as I continue to recap the first half of the season.
Tennessee used three of its six draft picks in 2014 on offensive players – LT Taylor Lewan (1st round; 11th overall), RB Bishop Sankey (2nd Round; 52th overall) and QB Zach Mettenberger (6th round; 178th overall). All three players have made an impact on the first half of the season and will continue to start for the Titans in the second half of 2014 campaign.
Both Lewan and Sankey have been starting since Week 6 following injuries to Michael Roos and Shonn Greene. Mettenberger received his first start in Week 8 after Titans coaches decided to make a switch at the quarterback position.
There's still plenty of time for this award to change hands by season's end, but at the midway point, Tennessee's top offensive rookie is Taylor Lewan. The stud left tackle out of Michigan has been a steady presence on the team's offensive line after 10-year veteran Michael Roos was placed on IR with a season ending knee injury.
Since becoming a starter, Pro Football Focus ranks him as one of the top-20 tackles in the NFL. Against the Redskins, he was the only member of the offensive line to not be called for a penalty. Just last week, he stood tall against a vaunted Texans pass rush featuring J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney.
"Clowney might have that big hit in a bowl game (even if it wasn't Lewan's fault), but round one in the NFL went to Lewan. He handled him," CBS Sports' Pete Prisco said on twitter.
Lewan did have a handful of plays before becoming a starter and there was concern that penalties could be an issue for the rookie as a full-time player, but that hasn't been anywhere near the case. Even in his first career start against the Jaguars, Pro Football Focus gave Lewan the highest grades of any member of the Titans.
The Titans drafted Lewan with the idea that he would be a staple at left tackle after Roos had been a decade-long cornerstone for the franchise. It may be just three starts, but Lewan is fitting the bill so far.
Honorable Mention: Bishop Sankey – RB**
If I were giving this award to the guy who's made the most consistent impact, it would be Sankey. The Titans made the University of Washington product the first running back taken in the 2014 draft and have used him in every game so far.
In the first five weeks of the season, Sankey backed up Greene but still grew towards a 50-50 split of the carries. Following Greene's hamstring injury prior to the Week 6 contest against Jacksonville, Sankey has seen his role increase to the team's primary back. Since becoming a starter, Sankey is averaging over 14 carries per game.
On the year, the rookie back has 75 carries for 302 yards for an average of just over four yards per touch. Sankey also has one rushing touchdown to his name to go with eight receptions for 64 yards. His long run is 22 yards and he has two 61-yard performances that tie for his career high.
Getting more production out of Sankey and the rest of the running game will be a focus in the second half of the season. Even still, Sankey has shown his ability to get positive yards and make something out of nothing when being hit in the backfield.