I really enjoy looking through the NFL Draft history at nfl.com, there's something soothing and intriguing about long lists of organized names and stats. Of course I spend a good percentage of that time looking at Titans' info ... It can be especially entertaining to go back and look at our drafts from 2001-2006.
While there's small patterns that show up everywhere, one thing I noticed today is that the wide receiver curse with this franchise is very real ... And it goes back a long, long way.
Some bullet trivia:
- The Tennessee Titans have never drafted a 1,000 yard receiver
- The Oilers/Titans franchise has drafted six 1,000 yd receivers in its fifty-two year history
- Two of those six receivers are in the NFL Hall of Fame
- Neither of those receivers ever had a 1,000 yd season for the Oilers/Titans, one never took a snap for us
- The four others that did have 1,000 yd seasons for the Oilers/Titans combined for a total of nine 1K yd seasons
- Of those nine, Derrick Mason has four of them
- Of those nine and of Mason's four, only one of the seasons broke 1,200 yards
- The franchise has spent (16) total picks in either Rounds 1, 2 or 3 on WRs that never had a 1K season
- If you include Round 4 that number just about doubles
So just to break down the six drafted 1,000 yard receivers:
Derrick Mason - Drafted 4th Round 1997 - 6,114 yards - 37 TDs with Titans - four 1K yd seasons ...... Interestingly, Mason wasn't even the Oilers top pick at WR in '97 .... That' be Joey Kent going in Round 2
Haywood Jeffires - Drafted 1st Round 1987 - 6,119 yards - 50 TDs with Oilers - two 1K seasons ...... No, really... that's how you spell his name, but you still pronounce it JEH-freez. His nickname from teammates was 'Wood' because of his dark complexion ... Later changed to 'Freakwood'
Ernest Givins - Drafted 2nd Round 1986 - 7,935 yards - 46 TDs with Oilers - one 1K season ...... Givins only 1K came his rookie year, although he and Jeffires would both have long and productive careers with the Oilers and the run'n'shoot. Givens was about the same size as Kendall Wright .... At 5'9, 181 lbs.
Tim Smith - Drafted 3rd Round 1980 - 3,107 yards - 12 TDs with Oilers - two 1K seasons ...... With a short career that sorta mirrors that of Drew Bennett, Smith never had much production outside of his two 1K's.
Steve Largent - Drafted 4th Round 1976 - 13,089 yards - 100 TDs - NFL HOF ..... NOT ONE CATCH OF IT FOR THE OILERS. This is the one that really started it all and stings the most. Largent was slated to be cut after the preseason in '76, but was traded to the expansion Seahawks for a measly 8th round pick. Wow. The only thing worse than that would be passing on Randy Moss for Kevin Dyson. Check.
Charlie Joiner - Drafted 4th Round 1969 - 12,146 yards - 65 TDs - eighteen year HOF career - However, with the Oilers his first four seasons he only had 1,480 total yds and 10 TDs. This guy's career was pretty amazing. It's quite similar to Derrick Mason's based on statistics, size, style, longevity and approach to the game, although Joiner finished his career with what were-then NFL records for receptions, receiving yards and games played by a WR. I know it's a foregone conclusion that Mason is not HOF marterial, but I think a case might eventually be made based on a comparison to someone like Joiner who also never won (or even played in) a Super Bowl. Especially when you consider that Joiner played in the heavy-passing-oriented scheme of the 70's Chargers and Mason played in two of the heaviest run-based schemes of the last 20 years.
It's been difficult for the Oilers/Titans to get their guy at WR in the draft, seemingly happening only about once a decade. One notion that's pretty encouraging at the moment is this stars-aligning/history-repeating-itself thing happening with Chris Palmer, the Titans' offense and his RNS throwback. The Oilers had a slew of good-not-great, or even great-not-elite wideouts from '90 to '93, and thrived in that system. If our current set of wide receivers stays healthy then it's easy to understand why Palmer & co are so excited about the upcoming season.