Titans 53 prediction, wide receivers, May
The Titans have had enormous turnover at the wide receiver position over the last few seasons- from high draft picks to coaches, change was in the air. I am hopeful this is the group that stays and each player can develop into a cog for this offense.
For 2017, I’m not predicting grand things for this unit. There is this almost urge from fans for the Titans to become “the greatest show on turf,” but that’s not Coach Mike Mularkey’s style. His style is one of brute force and winning battles. The receivers are almost like his one stray variant or tangent from that style. Mularkey may want his offensive coordinator to call a zillion run plays, but on occasion, he wants some flash. The receivers are that flash. I have written how I think the offense could develop, but we need to be patient. The young wide receivers need some time to develop. The coaches need to see them produce so that they will win the coaches’ trust and have more opportunities. In 2017, I think fans need to tone down some expectations for this group.
Rishard Matthews came to the Titans as a part-time starter part-time slot receiver. To use a playground term, he was “money.” When Marcus Mariota was under pressure, when Mariota needed a key first down, Matthews was the guy that often came through for him. Matthews was very impressive.
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Corey Davis was the fifth pick in the draft. He is a prototype of a wide receiver prospect- huge, fast, long arms, soft hands….he’s got it all. It’s going to take some time for him to become Mariota’s “goto guy.” I am guessing maybe midseason this will happen. Mariota needs a wide receiver he can depend on and he has that in Matthews. The Titans will not be so quick to bench that for an unpredictable rookie. If there is a change, it will be gradual.
Mularkey seemed to adore Tajae Sharpe last summer. The praise was so common it was almost expected when he went to the podium. The fifth round pick out of Massachusetts seemed to be the steal of the draft for the Titans. The regular season did not go as planned for Sharpe.
The Titans employ multiple tight ends and often times only one wide receiver on first and second downs. This individual was Sharpe and at about midseason it became Matthews.
Sharpe was fine for a rookie. He was still impressive and “pretty good,” but that was not the light that was shined on him during the summer. I am extremely curious how Sharpe performs in camp. He has a year of experience under his belt. We learn from our mistakes and the way Sharpe’s season didn’t go as expected, he really could surprise again this summer having learned from 2016.
Taywan Taylor’s college highlights make me feel like I’m a dog drooling. I love the comparisons to Antonio Brown and Odell Beckham Jr. I love the big plays. I love the side-step and the burst. I am real hesitant of making a prediction here because of all this. Since it’s May and I like to have fun on this blog I will make a wild prediction- Taylor, not Davis, will be the Titans #2 wide receiver to start the season.
KeVonn Mabon is another prospect I’m getting excited over. I really like his college highlights and find some of the negative draft reviews of his game to be awfully nitpicky. I think this is a name Titans fans will want to keep an eye on.
Tre McBride is a player that supposedly made significant progress last summer and the Titans were very pleased with. If stats could somehow call a team a liar, then a season largely on the practice squad and another season of zero catches would do just that. I am curious of McBride and hopeful he can win the fifth spot. Maybe the Titans coaches just laid it on a bit thick and were premature in their praise of McBride? Let’s see how 2017 goes for him.
At the time Eric Weems was signed, I expected him to be the Titans return man in 2017. After adding some returners in the draft and as undrafted free agents, I am now wondering if he’ll even make the team. Weems is going to have to step up as a wide receiver. He needs to show he has a place in the offense in addition to his return duties.
Of these fifth wide receivers, I am going with McBride for this prediction.
I wrote previously how Harry Douglas basically renegotiated his contract to make himself an easier cut and I think that’s how it will play out. The staff really seems to like Douglas so I am curious if he has a future in coaching. The fifth wide receiver must return kicks in my opinion and Harry does not.
The Titans had twelve wide receivers last summer. TWELVE! Coach Mularkey seems to have drills and practice habits that require many to be on the summer’s roster. Keep this in mind if the Titans start signing several wideouts.
I am still curious of Ben Roberts from last year. He made the team, for a day, but he made the team. He played almost the entire second half of each preseason game despite the push to give experience to younger players. Roberts just went off the radar. He wasn’t signed to the practice squad and is nowhere to be found on social media. The former baseball player was complimented for his professionalism and effort and…. where’d he go?
Since we haven’t heard from him since last September there are about a zillion things that could have happened. I won’t make any predictions related to him, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he joins the team in June either. Some conversation where he played two sports and wanted to spend some time with the family does not seem unreasonable at all. A professional preferring family over a year of the practice squad wouldn’t surprise me here. Call me wacky, but I’m still holding a candle that he’ll return.
What got me going about him (aside from his big frame and excellent blocking) is the classic outfielder running style. He is too slow to play in the league. Look at that guy. How’s he even on the team? And then the quarterback releases the pass and woooooosh he takes off like a rocket. It was so unique. That style would be such a “pain in the neck” to cover. I enjoyed watching him.
Maybe he is long gone and I’m off on a weird tangent here, but I’d like to see Roberts return.