It is nearly draft time again, and with the Tennessee Titans picking 30th rather than third as they did in 2006, there doesn’t seem to be as much buzz around the draft as in some years past.
But if you’re looking at things from a Titans’ perspective, that’s a good thing, because the team has rebuilt and finished a league-best 13-3. As for what might be available when the Titans make their choice, the team obviously would like to go “best player available,” no matter what the position.
That is one reason why they’ve had players at multiple positions in and scheduled for visits at Baptist Sports Park among the 30 players they are allowed to entertain.
There is the usual flock of wide receivers, ranging from Percy Harvin to Hakeem Nicks to Darrius Heyward-Bey to Kenny Britt. Then, there are linebackers like Clay Matthews, defensive ends such as Connor Barwin, cornerbacks like Darrius Butler even a quarterback in Josh Freeman of Kansas State.
The evaluation process translates to being ready to pull the trigger on any number of players on draft day when that 30th pick rolls around, regardless of position. Therefore, over the course of the next couple of weeks, The City Paper will take a look at potential players at a number of key areas and try to size up what is available.
And that’s where our readers come in. As this evaluation process unfolds, we will publish several Web polls (see the home page) for you to cast your vote on who you think the Titans should take with their pick — assuming all players being looked at are still available at end of the first round.
First, let’s take a look at the wide receivers who might be there on draft day. Since receiver almost always seems to be a position of need for the Titans, and the fact that this year’s wideout class of draft prospects is pretty deep.
We’ll operate under the assumption that Texas Tech’s Michael Crabtree and Missouri’s Jeremy Maclin, both projected top 10 picks, won’t be on the board at No. 30. But here are four of at least 10 wide receiver prospects who are scheduled to or already have visited Tennessee before the draft. All four of these players have first-round grades in at least some mock drafts.
Kenny Britt, Rutgers
Britt has the size (6-4, 215) and the production (87 receptions for 1,371 yards) that any team would want in a receiver. He appears to be very polished, though some scouting reports at least say he needs to polish his route-running some at the next level.
Percy Harvin, Florida
Harvin has the game-breaking ability that NFL teams envy. The question is what to do with him. He isn’t that big at 5-11, 195, and teams have to wonder if he fits better as a true wide receiver (40 catches for 644 yards), a running back (70 carries for 659) or some sort of hybrid between the two.
Nonetheless, some team will take a chance on his playmaking skills, as he scored 17 touchdowns for the Gators last season.
Darrius Heyward-Bey, Maryland
Heyward-Bey’s numbers don’t jump out at you as he had just 42 catches for 609 yards and five scores for the Terrapins last season.
But what does dazzle is his size (6-2, 206) combined with the sub-4.4 time he ran in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. His hands are a bit suspect, but the big-play ability might help offset some of that.
Hakeem Nicks, North Carolina
Nicks is a solid pass catcher with 74 and 68 catches for the Tar Heels the past two season, including many that are of the highlight-reel variety. The questions about him abound in that he is not a speed guy and that he put on 15 pounds between the Combine and his pro day, setting off some warning bells among some talent evaluators.