Plenty has been said about Jon Robinson’s performance over the last few years in the first round of the NFL Draft. Some of it is merited even. Although, he has accumulated a track record for finding some gems later in the draft. Titans linebacker David Long Jr. is at the forefront of that list.
The West Virginia product has seen both his production and playing time rise over the past year. This season, he is a key cog for a Titans defense looking to take strides from a dreadful 2020 season. He continues to impress, and social media is taking notice.
David Long Jr., making plays from one side of the field to the other for the Titans.
— Joe Rexrode (@joerexrode) September 26, 2021
David Long Jr. is a baller. One of J-Rob’s late-round gems. #Titans
— Ryan Porth (@PorthGame) September 26, 2021
No matter who you ask, the answer is usually the same. Long Jr. should be getting the LB1 amount of reps for the Titans. Right now, he is outperforming fellow linebackers Rashaan Evans and Jayon Brown. Both of which are players that the Titans do not have signed past this season. Brown took a pretty team-friendly one-year extension this past off-season, while the Titans did not pick up Evans’ option on his rookie contract for 2022.
So, looking ahead, Long Jr. is in the driver’s seat to continue to play a big role for Tennessee past this season. He is under contract through the end of next season, but the Titans should be looking to lock him up sooner than later in order to get the best price possible.
The longer they wait, the more people will notice his impressive play.
Long Jr. missed Week 1, but the team has not eased him back in. They know their defense is better with him on the field a lot. In Week 2, he played 98% of defensive snaps, and he was on the field for every single defensive snap in Week 3. That is extremely impressive for a linebacker. The Titans trust him on both rushing and passing downs – for good reason, too. That is clear.
MAJOR SECOND HALF THIRD DOWN #Titans
Titans D in nickel against 11 for SEA. They try to use a Titans move and use a WR as a TE, but physicality advantage Tennessee.
Tart and Jeff win their matchup and David Long w/ great read & react to shoot past the TE and fill the gap! pic.twitter.com/xZQuUxttel
— TicTacTitans (@TicTacTitans) September 21, 2021
For comparison, linebacker Rashaan Evans played in 57% of snaps in Week 2 and 64% in Week 3. Jayon Brown played in 93% of snaps in Week 1 when Long Jr. was not out there. In Week 3, Brown was working his way back from injury, so he only played in 16% of snaps. Expect that percentage to increase mightily as he gets healthier, but it may not reach Long Jr’s total.
Long Jr. provides pass coverage that his fellow Tennessee LBs do not. With a young secondary behind him, that is vital for the team’s improvement on defense.
— Tennessee Titans/Oilers (@Titans) August 13, 2021
Titans DC Shane Bowen wants to play an aggressive type of defense. He wants to be in the face of the offense as much as possible. He knows that young studs like Jeffery Simmons and Kristian Fulton thrive off of that energy.
Players like David Long Jr. make that scheme and plan much more effective.
Featured Image via USA TODAY-Sports