Boclair: Kendall Wright, the overlooked star

Monday, July 1, 2013 at 12:17am

Let’s make this clear from the start: This is not meant as some sort of humorous take on the man’s height. No need for short jokes or references to a certain Randy Newman song from the late 1970s.

This is a serious question.

Have the Tennessee Titans had a first-round draft pick more overlooked than Kendall Wright?

For right or wrong, first-round selections are analyzed, over-analyzed and analyzed some more. Chance Warmack has learned as much in recent weeks. Jake Locker continues to go through it as do Chris Johnson and Kenny Britt.

It’s just part of the deal. Except — it seems — for Wright.

Few top choices have been as productive right out of the gate for the Titans as the wide receiver from Baylor, the 20th overall pick, was last season. Those who were — namely Jevon Kearse in 1999 and Vince Young in 2006 — enjoyed immediate adoration of the local fan base and league-wide recognition for their accomplishments.

Wright didn’t even make an All-Rookie team. Pro Football Weekly/Professional Football Writers Association, recognized as the official list, picked Jacksonville’s Justin Blackmon and Indianapolis’ T.Y. Hilton, two players in the Titans’ division.

ESPN’s Mel Kiper went with the same two. Ditto for’s Josh Katzowitz. Pro Football Focus chose Hilton and Cleveland’s Josh Gordon.

Keep in mind, no rookie had more receptions last season than Wright, who finished with 64. Blackmon had just as many. Hilton and Gordon each had 14 fewer, which was nearly one less catch per game.

By comparison, CJ was third in rushing among rookies his first season (2008) yet he not only made multiple all-rookie teams he also ended up in the Pro Bowl that year. He also became a much bigger star than either of the two who outgained him, Houston’s Steve Slaton and Chicago’s Matt Forte.

Even the guys who failed to live up to their draft position generated a lot of discussion at the time. Pacman Jones was always in the headlines and a go-to topic of discussion at area water coolers during his time here. Andre Woolfolk is forgotten now but was closely scrutinized for a time.

None of the same goes for Wright and — in a way — it actually is because of his size. At 5-foot-10 (that’s the number they use) he rests firmly in the shadow of Britt, the 2009 first-round pick who plays the same position yet checks in at 6-foot-3.

When it comes to the notion of what a big-play wide receiver looks like in the NFL these days, Britt is the one who fits the minds-eye.

He has had just enough big moments on the field to keep people interested and more than enough bad ones off the field to make them infuriated. In neither case has he done enough to make anyone lose interest so they remain focused on him as a potential star and potential distraction. When it comes to the Titans’ wide receivers, everyone else, Wright included, is nothing more than an afterthought.

That may be a mistake. To date, Britt never has caught as many passes in a single season and Wright did in his single NFL season. This franchise and fan base that waited more than a decade for someone to come in at that position and make plays from the get-go. Kevin Dyson caught 21 passes as a rookie. Derrick Mason had 47 catches in his first three years combined. Drew Bennett never got to 40 in his first three years.

Yet rather than hail Wright as the next big thing for the offense, all the attention remains on Locker, Johnson, Warmack and, of course, Britt. All of them are first-round picks like Wright, except for the fact that they each have the oversized expectations that come with it.

3 Comments on this post:

By: thehouseofho on 7/1/13 at 7:53

Wait, you're making your whole case for Kendall Wright based on the number of receptions he had?! He may have tied Justin Blackmon for most receptions by a rookie WR, but the rest of his stats aren't even close to the production of Blackmon, Hilton, and Gordon.

Receiving Yards
Blackmon - 865
Hilton - 861
Gordon - 805
Wright - 626

Average Yards
Hilton - 17.2
Gordon - 16.1
Blackmon - 13.5
Wright - 9.8

Hilton - 7
Blackmon - 5
Gordon - 5
Wright - 4

Hilton also provides value as a kick/punt returner, while Wright does not. Wright's one rushing attempt for four yards only beats out Gordon's zero rushing attempts as Blackmon and Hilton both had more rushing attempts, rushing yards, and average yards per rush.

Are you claiming that because he tied for the most receptions out of all rookie receivers -- even though he had at least 180 less receiving yards than Gordon, Hilton, and Blackmon, is the only one out of the four who did not average double-digit yards per reception, and had the lowest touchdown total of the four -- he should have been named to an All-Rookie team over rookie receivers who have better stats in multiple categories?

He's not overlooked because he's short. He's not overlooked at all. He simply didn't put up the numbers the others did and that's all there is to it.

By: joe41 on 7/1/13 at 1:29

Agree, I am waiting to see his skills. Hopefully, it can be this year.

By: courier37027 on 7/6/13 at 8:41

No team drafts potential, and does not develop that player, quite like the Titans.