One of the most interesting stories that I'll be following this summer will be the competition at wide receiver. There are seven capable bodies that could make the team, but likely only four to five spots up for grabs. We went through a similar scenario last season with Ken Whisenhunt as Dorial Green-Beckham and Tre McBride entered the depth chart. The team ended up surprising us, keep four tight ends and four receivers to start the season. With that in mind, let's dive into the situation for this season.
Kendall Wright, Dorial Green-Beckham, Rishard Matthews
Barring anything catastrophic, these three aren't going anywhere this off-season. We saw Green-Beckham forced into a number one role (probably a year too soon) last season as Kendall Wright struggled to stay healthy. Wright will be back in a contract year and should challenge to lead the team in targets if he can stay healthy. Rishard Matthews really rounds out the group, giving the Titans a veteran, productive presence in the rotation.
The 2016 fifth round selection has a big leg up because of the recent investment made in him. Although he may not be active right off the bat, I'd be surprised if he didn't make the team. Would you cut your fifth round pick you just made to keep Douglas, Hunter or McBride? I don't see it happening.
On the bubble
Harry Douglas, Justin Hunter, Tre McBride
If we've got four safe so far, that likely leaves one spot left up for grabs, unless the Titans go the four receiver route once again. For argument's sake, let's assume they'll be keeping five. You have two veterans, a rookie and a second-year player already on the roster. Are you going to opt for youth in McBride? Or the veteran with Terry Robiskie ties? Or are you giving Justin Hunter one last shot? That's what the staff will have to figure out in camp.
For me, there's a clear leader here. It's Tre McBride. Obviously he's going to have to show up and show out in camp to jump ahead of Harry Douglas and Justin Hunter, but that may not be as tough as you think. What is Harry Douglas offering you on this roster? Rishard Matthews is the clear superior talent and looks to be in line to take Douglas' role this season. I doubt the Titans are going to pay Douglas three million to sit on the bench as a fifth receiver.
Justin Hunter has been limited this off-season with an ankle issue. He's on track to make it to camp, but this has been the story of his career. Flashes, no consistency and he can't stay healthy. He's due 1.7 million this season and isn't tied to Jon Robinson or Mike Mularkey. Hunter's time here could be done before week one.
McBride didn't make an impact for the Titans last season, but he offers plenty more upside for a fifth receiver than either of the two listed above. His cap hit will be minimal, too. On paper, McBride is the superior athlete putting up 4.4 speed and showing outstanding agility scores. I'll take the guy making 500k with upside over the two veterans that have probably already peaked in the league, but that's just me.