One of the more underrated needs for the Titans this offseason was wide receiver. Damian Williams, Kenny Britt and Kevin Walter all left in free agency, and while none were especially important to the Titans as starters, they were good depth players to have (on paper). Currently the Titans have Justin Hunter, Nate Washington and Kendall Wright as starters, but then behind them only Marc Mariani and Michael Preston have played for the Titans. The other wide receivers on the roster include hot names like: Isaiah Williams, Lamont Bryant and Brian Robiskie.
Despite not drafting a receivers with any of their 2014 NFL Draft picks, the Titans did manage to add four receivers to the roster after the draft was over. John Glennon had some ideas on why each player might have a (small) chance at making the roster.
None of this is ground breaking information, and you don't find Jerry Rice after the draft is over, so don't expect me to declare any of these guys as Pro Bowlers. However, wide receiver is a position that needs a lot of depth, and if one or more of these guys can find their way on the 53-man roster then it is good to understand what they bring to the table outside of that.
1. Jaz Reynolds, Oklahoma
"The 6-foot-2, 201-pound Reynolds, who has a vertical jump of 35 inches, definitely passes the eye test. His speed is decent, as he ran a 4.57 40-yard dash at his Pro Day.
Reynolds had a big 2011 season for the Sooners, posting 41 catches (for an average of 17.4 yards) and five touchdowns, but he was suspended for the entire 2012 season after violating team rules. During his final year, he totaled just 14 catches and one touchdown."
Jaz Reynolds was a huge name after 2011 when the three-headed combo of Ryan Broyles, Kenny Stills and Reynolds combined for just under 3,000 collective yards. However, a season-long suspension and a terrible 2013 campaign make it easy to see why he could put up impressive numbers at the combine and still not get drafted.
He is a player with tremendous physical talent, but who might not have his head on straight.
2. Josh Stewart, Oklahoma State
If the 5-10, 178-pound Stewart — who declared for the draft as a junior — was just a little bigger or faster, you can bet he would have been selected.
His sophomore numbers (101 catches for 1,210 yards and seven touchdowns) were especially impressive and his junior numbers (60 catches, 707 yards, three TDs) weren’t too shabby.
He ran a 4.63 40-yard dash, however, and his slight frame might not hold up to a lot of heavy hits.
Stewart's best attributes are his vision and his understanding of angles. In the video below at the 1:16 mark, you can see that he isn't the fastest guy on the field, but his understanding of the game makes allows him to take a tunnel screen 75 yards to the house.
Having said that I really don't like Stewart. He is undersized without top-end speed, and while he has good numbers, it is important to remember that they are inflated by that spread system that OSU uses. Vision and angles are more important to a return man than a receiver, and while he might be similar to Marc Mariani, the Titans already have too many return men on the roster.
3. Derel Walker, Texas A&M
The 6-1, 188-pound Walker spent just two seasons with the Aggies after transferring in from Trinity Valley Community College, but he made the most of his senior year.
Working with quarterback Johnny Manziel, Walker produced 51 catches for 818 yards (a 16-yard average) and five touchdowns.
The fact that he was only productive for one season at the major college level, and his middle-of-the-road 4.65 40-yard dash, were likely the reasons he wasn’t drafted.
But Walker did finish with a flourish, totaling 20 receptions for 380 yards and three touchdowns over his last four games. The scouting report on him is that he has good hands and runs good routes.
Having Johnny Manziel as your quarterback and getting to play opposite Mike Evans is a good way to get ignored in college football. As an average sized receiver in the NFL, you will need to be able to run good routes and have good hands if you are going to be successful so it is good that he meets those qualifications. The Titans need another sure-handed receiver on the roster, and if Walker can be that he may have a chance but he will need to find a way to contribute on special teams.
4. Eric Ward TTU
The 5-11, 203-pound Ward wasn’t drafted because he had only average height and average speed (he ran a 4.59-second 40-yard dash), but that didn’t stop him from being a tremendous playmaker in college.
He racked up more than 80 catches in each of his last three seasons, and his 83 catches last year ranked second in the Big 12. Harris also posted a combined 31 touchdowns during that stretch.
Whisenhunt has stated over and over that he wants to use Dexter McCluster as a running back more so than a receiver. If that is true, then the Titans could use a backup slot-receiver in case Kendall Wright goes down with an injury. While Nate Washington could play that role, Ward might be a more natural fit at that position.