Chris Palmer knew the numbers, most of them at least. The Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator did not even have to look.
Terry Glenn caught 90 passes for 1,132 yards as a rookie with New England in 1996. Three years later Kevin Johnson started his NFL career with 66 catches for 986 yards and six touchdowns. In 2003 Andre Johnson had 66 receptions for 976 yards (Palmer’s recollection was close: 975).
In each of those cases, Palmer, the Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator, was either the quarterbacks coach, offensive coordinator or head coach.
“I think this system allows a rookie to come in and play early,” Palmer said. “There is enough evidence of that in the history of our coaching to indicate that.”
It was an important point after the Titans used their first-round pick (20th overall) in the 2012 NFL draft on Baylor wide receiver Kendall Wright.
During its time in Tennessee, the franchise has struggled to get an immediate impact from wide receivers through the draft. First-round picks Kevin Dyson (1998) and Kenny Britt (2009) combined for barely more than 1,000 yards receiving and just five touchdowns between them as rookies. Derrick Mason finally became productive in his fourth season, and Justin McCareins got there in his third.
Many others never developed as hoped.
With Wright, Baylor’s all-time leader in every major receiving category, the Titans do not expect to have to wait.
“We’re counting on this guy to come in and play,” Palmer said. “Where we plug him in, I think that is the beauty for our offense, because I think he can play outside, I think he can play inside, and there are several other spots.”
For the Titans, it’s a chance to break from their history.
“We’re not looking at what happened in the past or years ago, we’re looking forward to this year, and we felt when you pick a guy, like we did, at 20, that the player is going to be able to help us this year,” coach Mike Munchak said. “We’re excited about that.”