Contrary to some speculation, Florida wide receiver Percy Harvin is not off the Tennessee Titans’ draft board.
Where exactly Harvin is on the Titans board is uncertain, as the team almost certainly would shy away from him at No. 30 in this weekend’s NFL Draft, but at Thursday’s annual pre-draft press conference, the team made it clear Harvin is still on the radar, despite reports of a positive drug test and other issues of coachability and durability that have been raised.
“The [Percy] Harvin kid is the most explosive player in this draft by far. I know he has problems so that is probably going to hurt his draft status a little bit,” Titans director of college scouting for the East Region Mike Ackerley said. “There are some questions whether he can be a receiver.
“I was at his workout. There is no doubt in my mind that he can run the routes that he needs to run and do the things he needs to do to be a top receiver in this league, plus he is going to be able to return, even though that isn’t something he has done on a full-scale deal at Florida.”
Titans General Manager Mike Reinfeldt admitted that the issues are something to be concerned with, especially given how the Titans were burned in 2005 with the off-field shenanigans of Adam “Pacman” Jones. But he said Harvin is still on Tennessee’s board.
“We go through the process with every player and if we have concerns or red flags that is something we note,” Reinfeldt said. “It kind of all goes into the process and at some point is reflected on their final status on the board. I would love to tell you where he is on the board but I can’t do that.”
While Harvin is seen by many as a slot receiver, Ackerley said Harvin is talented enough to play on the outside as well.
“In my opinion, Harvin can play wherever he wants,” Ackerley said. “To me to pigeonhole a guy and say he is only a slot, I think is a mistake. If you see the guy physically, he is built more along the lines of a running back. He is quick enough and fast enough to avoid contact out there. To me he is the most explosive guy in this draft.”
The Titans are believed to have had talks with the Arizona Cardinals regarding Anquan Boldin, whom they have made available in a trade.
Arizona has reportedly asked for first- and third-rounds in this weekend’s draft. Tennessee inquired about Boldin last August when the wide receiver first voiced his desire to be dealt away from the Cardinals.
“It’s safe to say that we’re always trying to get the team better, so we’ll continue to monitor various situations,” Reinfeldt said, acknowledging that there is always the possibility of a deal going down before the draft commences.
The Titans are not believed to have much interest in Cleveland receiver Braylon Edwards, who also is available for trade.
Reinfeldt said he wouldn’t necessarily have to be blown away with a package to make the right deal for a player like Boldin.
“I think you’d have to think it made sense,” Reinfeldt said. “ I don’t think you’d have to be overwhelmed. I think it would need to be a situation of equity, and you’d consider it then.”
Of the rookie receivers who might be available at No. 30, a trio of players — Ohio State’s Brian Robiskie, North Carolina’s Hakeem Nicks and Rutgers’ Kenny Britt — could fill the Titans need at the position. [See ‘mock’ Titans’ draft here.]
“If you wanted to pick a guy and say he is ready to go in the first game, [Robiske] is very polished,” Ackerley said.
Robiskie’s father Terry was an NFL running back and long-time coach in the league.
As for Britt and Nicks, both juniors, Ackerley said they might need more time to develop.
A few local players the Titans visited with leading up to the draft are intriguing, most notably Vanderbilt cornerback D.J. Moore, a potential second-round pick. He isn’t that fast — running in the mid 4.5s in the 40-yard dash — but has playmaking skills that belie his being only around 5-9.
“He was productive whether he was matching up against the taller receivers in the SEC. He did that versus Georgia,” scouting coordinator Blake Beddingfield said. “He did that versus a couple teams where he went against 6-1, 6-2 type receivers and matched up very well. It’s a case-by-case basis with a corner. Does he play small? I don’t think he really plays small. I don’t think that should be an issue for him.”
Former Goodpasture standout Patrick Turner, who played at Southern California, also visited and could be a middle round pick this weekend.
“He had a four-year productive career there,” Beddingfield said. “He’s very tall, physical, good-hands receiver, has played against the best, played on a national stage and has produced. His speed is good – not great – but the size outweighs maybe the lack of speed he has there. He has good hands, he’s a quality kid and will bring a lot to an NFL team.”