Player Spotlight: Kendall Wright

Jason O. Watson

Whoever gets to coach this Tennessee Titans team next year will get to tinker with one of the most explosive young WRs in the league in Kendall Wright.

Back in 2012, many Titans' fans, myself included, were surprised when they called Wright's name in the first round of the draft at 20. Since then, Wright has proven worthy of that selection, leading the team in receptions his first two seasons and showing off a rare ability to separate in space. Wright racked up over 1000 yards this year, and that doesn't happen often. In fact, the Titans haven't had a 1000 yard WR not named Nate Washington since Drew Bennett and Derrick Mason did it in 2004.

The way Wright earned his yards was impressive. In his rookie season, aside from notching a rookie-leading 64 receptions, he actually led the league on 3rd down grabs with 19, ahead of the likes of Wes Welker, Victor Cruz, and Reggie Wayne. Moreover, 14 of those grabs wen't for 1st downs, tied with Wayne. He continued this trend in his sophomore campaign, ranking alongside Welker on receptions from the slot, and impressing yet again on 3rd down with 30 (3rd in the league). In addition, Wright recorded 94 catches (7th in the NFL). The Baylor product has already displayed a lot of what makes him a special talent, and he is only getting better. In fact, he was really coming into his own toward the end of 2013 with several 100+ yard games and an ever growing reputation as a clutch wideout. He made a mockery of Patrick Peterson, among others, and proved that he can get separation from just about anyone.

The play below against the Rams may have been one of my favorite of the entire year. Locker threads the needle here just about as well as you can, and Wright makes the defense pay dearly.

Jakewrightslant_medium

His WR coach during the past season, Shawn Jefferson, had this to say about the young pass catcher:

“He’s revolutionizing the slot position. He’s got a stranglehold on that position, and it’s hard for people to cover him one-on-one,” Jefferson said. “This kid is taking that to another level. People from around the league are beginning to see him as that guy but he’s a lot more athletic than Wes Welker so he’s able to get a lot more after the catch than Wes Welker can. In that way, he’s revolutionizing the position.”

Heading into 2014, Wright is an OC's dream, with the versatility to play out wide as well as dominate from the slot. While he certainly needs to be more involved near the end-zone, Wright has the tools to be an increasingly effective weapon, and fights for extra yards on every grab. With more consistent QB play, he could reach even higher levels. He is locked in as the No. 2 WR for next season. At this point, he might just be my favorite Titan, and I can't wait to see what he does in 2014.

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