Don’t let today’s offensively-driven NFL fool you, defense still wins championships. At least, that’s what Tennessee Titans cornerback Kristian Fulton believes.
Selected in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft, Fulton’s growth was stunted in his rookie campaign due to a condensed offseason as the NFL learned how to navigate around COVID-19. On top of an abnormal offseason process, Fulton saw action in just six games as a rookie, dealing with a knee injury that forced him to spend over a month on injured reserve.
With a full offseason to develop in 2021, Fulton took a massive leap. The former LSU defensive back finished in the top 10 amongst corners with 34 allowed receptions (T-6th) and 11 pass breakups (T-9th). His 50.7% completion percentage against was good for the second-lowest rate in the NFL.
Kristian Fulton’s 2021 was top of the league among CBs:
-Allowed 34 receptions (T-6th fewest) on 67 targets
-50.7% Completion% against (2nd lowest).
-11 forced incompletions (T-11th)
-16% forced incompletion% (T-7th)
-11 Pass BreakUps (T-9th)#Titans https://t.co/RrzNrF6axv
– Wes on Broadway (@TitansDraftTape) June 15, 2022
Though Fulton has emerged as the Titans’ top cornerback, he acknowledges that there is still plenty of room for improvement.
“Just trying to take on a bigger role as far as reading the offense,” said Fulton. “I want to be around the ball more this season, so that’s what it’s going to take. Getting lined up and know what’s coming to me pre-snap – that way I can play faster. ”
His physical talent is on display every Sunday, but making progress on the mental side of the game could be enough to vault Fulton to a Pro-Bowl level.
WATCH 🎥 pic.twitter.com/hKTBZgtwOG
– Jim Wyatt (@jwyattsports) February 6, 2022
The Titans boasted the league’s second-best run defense in 2021, but it was the secondary that held the unit back at times. The team’s pass defense finished the regular season ranked 26th in the NFL, allowing opponents to throw for 263.8 yards per game.
The Jackrabbit Jenkins experiment performed to be detrimental last year. With Caleb Farley and Roger McCreary battling it out in camp for the other starting spot at corner, the Titans hope to find a long-term answer across from Fulton in 2022.
“We see that there’s potential. We see what we brought back. We just want to keep that going. We know we can be a special group, ”said Fulton, who will be stepping into a leadership role this season.
– 104-5 The Zone (@ 1045TheZone) June 15, 2022
Last offseason, Titans General Manager Jon Robinson elevated the team’s pass rush through the free-agent signings of Denico Autry and Bud Dupree. If the front four can replicate last year’s success, the secondary will once again be in a position to force turnovers on the back end.
Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes, Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers, and Joe Burrow are just a few of the quarterbacks the Titans will face in 2022. With question marks on the offensive side of the ball, Fulton’s defense will need to step up if the Titans are to win its third-straight AFC South title.
Fulton’s expectations for the defense are high entering a pivotal season for the franchise. On his expectations for the group in 2022 he says, “The best defense usually gets to the Super Bowl. That’s our goal and intention. ”
#Titans Kristian Fulton just said this defense has the potential to win Super Bowls.
– AtoZ Sports Nashville (@AtoZSports) June 15, 2022
Featured image via George Walker IV / Tennessean.com / USA TODAY NETWORK