Searching for playmakers

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Perhaps the most glaring need for the Titans as they begin their preparation for the offseason, is a wide receiver (or two) that can make plays. The remaining teams left in the race for the Lombardi Trophy consist of playmakers such as Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, Reggie Wayne and Plaxico Burress: receivers who command a lot of attention and are capable of providing opposing defensive backs with nightmares on a frequent basis.
Injuries, inconsistency and dropped passes often plagued Titan wide receivers in 2007. Their inability to consistently make plays was a big factor in the team’s well-chronicled struggles in the passing game.
As the offseason approaches us, let’s take a look at some of the draft/free agent/trade options that the Titans will have at their disposal as they attempt to upgrade the wide receiver position:

The Draft
In recent years, the draft has been unkind to the Titans when it comes to selecting wide receivers. Tyrone Calico and Courtney Roby are vivid examples of unsuccessful draft picks at the position.
Since 2005, the Titans have invested seven draft picks towards improving the wide receiver position. Of the seven selections, only Roydell Williams (4th round), Brandon Jones (3rd), Chris Davis (4th) and Paul Williams (3rd) remain on the roster. Last year, the quartet combined to catch 81 passes for 1005 yards and 6 touchdowns, which equals to the type of production typically attained by a number one receiver, something that this team so desperately needs.
The Titans haven’t chosen a wide receiver in the first round since 1998, when they passed up Randy Moss in favor of Kevin Dyson, whose career unfortunately came to an end as a result of a myriad of injuries. Moss on the other hand, has become one of the league’s most dangerous receivers and just recently broke Jerry Rice’s record for touchdowns in a season.
The 2008 NFL Draft will have a few standout receivers who could possibly be in a Titans’ uniform come September. Limas Sweed is an athletic specimen who also happens to be an ex-teammate of Vince Young, and he is currently regarded as the draft’s most talented receiver. Other first round possibilities include Early Doucet, a possession receiver who runs good routes; Adarius Bowman, an intriguing talent with a decent size-speed combination; and (Super) Mario Manningham, a talented junior from Michigan who has demonstrated the ability to make plays throughout his collegiate career.
Personally, I am intrigued by Sweed’s potential and his rapport with Vince Young is an added bonus. He would look good in a Titans’ uniform. 
Free Agency
Last year, free agency netted the Titans the services of Justin Gage and Eric Moulds. Gage tied for the team lead in catches while Moulds continued his descent from being one of the league’s better receivers to an aging vet who is on his last legs.
The Titans may use free agency as they look to add a playmaker or two to Vince Young’s arsenal of wideouts in 2008. In my opinion, Bernard Berrian would be a solid acquisition. His presence would provide the Titans with a legitimate deep threat that would open up opportunities for the likes of Roydell Williams and Brandon Jones underneath. Besides, anyone who is able to put up respectable stats with Rex Grossman as their starting quarterback is alright with me.
Other free agent possibilities include Arizona’s Bryant Johnson and Seattle’s D.J.Hackett, a player that current Titan GM Mike Reinfeldt is very familiar with from his days as a Seahawks executive.
Trades
A trade could be a possibility as well, as talented receivers such as Chad Johnson, Roy Williams and Javon Walker have been rumored to be on the trading block. New England’s trade for Randy Moss last season has proven to be an excellent acquisition for the Patriots, to say the least. A proven number one receiver would be a great addition, if the price-tag isn’t too high.
Whether it is via free agency, the draft or a trade, the Titans will be eagerly seeking to upgrade their wide receiving unit. As evidenced by several of this season’s remaining playoff teams, a playmaker at the WR position can be an extremely valuable commodity.

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4 Responses to “Searching for playmakers”

  1. wacko jacko in remington Says:

    Yes, I agree on the wide-out upgrade as being crucial to the next phase of Titan greatness. Now I don’t know anything about college ball so I can’t comment on the possibilities in the upcoming draft. But I would like to see the Titans make a play for Chad Johnson as a #1 wide-out who I think is ready to get his head right and mature into a top receiver who wants to win; and, to address the drops and fumbles problem, I urge the Titans to bring back Derrick Mason, who in my opinion has the surest hands in the business, and could be so valuable to VY as a second or third option on every pass play. Mason is in a salary-cap bind with Baltimore and could be acquired. He’s not the fastest or the biggest WR out there, but he still is great as a #2 wide-out to complement the eventual #1 wide-out the Titans must get.

  2. Drexel Perry Says:

    Derrick Mason is a proven guy who also happens to have a history here. He is sure-handed and despite getting up there in age, is still capable of being a good receiver in the league.
    If the Ravens do decide to jettison him, I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Titans make a run for him. He isn’t the type of receiver that is going to stretch the field but he is great at moving the chains and is pretty dependable.

  3. Jonathan Says:

    As far as the draft is concerned, none of the ‘top five’ seem to have what we desperately need….speed and elusiveness in the open field. Gage, while he lacks speed, has great size, leaping ability, and pretty sure hands. If you throw it up, he’ll go get it. Biren Ealy, I think, is a developing player with a similar skill set. What we lack is YAC! We haven’t found anyone who can consistently make people miss in the open field and get deep in a hurry. Chris Davis has shown quickness, but he lacks true speed and can’t hang on to the football.
    That said, there are a couple of prospects that could fill these needs. The player I’m most excited about is Darius Reynaud out of West Virginia. Pat White said that every Saturday, “he’s the best athlete on the field”. He has great hands, a 44-inch vertical, squats 600+, incredible quickness and breakneck speed. He is a threat to score every time he touches the ball. He reminds me of bigger, stronger, Santana Moss. The other guy I’d look at is Ryan Grice-Mullens out of Hawaii–same skills, only a little smaller and not as strong.
    These are guys that could be around anywhere from the 2nd to the 4th round. With this year’s WR class, you don’t want to risk a 1st round pick on anyone other than Desean Jackson, so let’s take a solid OT or DT then get good value in our 2,3 and 4 picks.

  4. Drexel Perry Says:

    The Titans have been drafting guys at the WR position in the 2nd-4th round for the last few years. Roydell had a decent year last year, but Paul W. didnt see the field, Davis didn’t contribute much in the passing game and Brandon Jones wasn’t much of a factor.
    If the Titans are going to use the draft to select a WR, I would like to see them select a first round talent instead of using the value approach to adding playmakers.
    Personally, in my opinion, what this team needs is an established playmaker at WR. With a ton of cap room, I’d like to see the team bring a guy who has already earned the respect of opposing corners, not another prospect whose impact may not be felt until years down the road, if at all.
    Vince and the offense needs a guy who can produce immediately.

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