If you've rooted for the Titans at all in the past two seasons, you've probably been frustrated with Justin Hunter a time or two. Hunter -- the third year pro out of Tennessee -- has just about everything that you could ask for physically. A 6'4, 200+ frame, a wingspan that would make some NBA players jealous, speed to burn and an ability to jump out of the gym.
So what's the problem? In my opinion, Hunter's issues are 90 percent mental. He lacks that killer "my ball" mentality that the great ones seem to have. You don't see any fire out of Hunter on the field. I know he can succeed at this level -- I've seen him do it, but he hasn't done it consistently yet. That's what is driving us all insane.
Here is a taste of what Hunter brings to the table when he's right. He's lined up 2nd from the bottom in the GIF and beats his man downfield. Hunter brings in the contested ball and has the presence of mind to anticipate the safety coming in for the hit.
Here's his best snap from 2014. It was in the first half against Cleveland when everything was going right. Watch him work the off-man coverage with a filthy double move. Hunter sold this route really well, causing the defender to bite. He then shows off the wheels, winning the race to the endzone.
When you look at those two plays, you see what Hunter can offer. However, it seems like there has been more bad snaps than good so far in Hunter's career. The main area that he has to improve on is getting stronger at the catch point. He was brought in to be a big time "go get it" type receiver, but he's been far from that. He doesn't go up strong for the ball and can easily be rerouted by defenders. Hunter lacks functional strength and it's apparent when you watch him against physical corners.
Then you have the simple lack of concentration issue, which he can't seem to shake. The play below was probably Hunter's worst snap of 2014. After Charlie Whitehurst ran for his life against the blitz, he found a crossing Justin Hunter for what should have been a routine grab. The pass gets picked off after hitting Hunter right in the hands, giving the Colts yet another break.
Hunter dropped four of his 28 catches in 2014 after not logging a single drop in his rookie season. I have to give him somewhat of a pass, simply due to the never-ending quarterback carousel that he's endured over the past two seasons. It's hard to get into a rhythm offensively when you have a new quarterback in on nearly every drive.
Going forward, I think Hunter has a role here. He can stretch the field with his speed alone which should in turn open some things up underneath. However, he must improve his strength to be able to beat physical corners. Hunter somehow has to develop a more tenacious attitude when going up and getting the ball. The most aggression that we've seen out of Hunter was written in a police report of his recent arrest in Virginia Beach.
Is Hunter ever going to be a go-to number one? No. However, he offers a nice physical skill set for a number three or four receiver. Maybe not splitting time between three different quarterbacks is part of the answer. Maybe Marcus Mariota can pull his career out of the flames. Either way, he better figure it out quickly this season, because Dorial Green-Beckham is waiting in the wings.