The NFL Draft is fast approaching. I thought this week would be a great week to start looking at some under-the-radar prospects the Titans could look to target on Day 3. I’ll cycle through a few positions this week, starting with wide receivers.
The Titans receiver room is going to look very different next season than it did a year ago. Corey Davis, Adam Humphries and Kalif Raymond are no longer in the picture. With the departures of those three players, the Titans lost speed, size, a starting slot receiver and a deep threat that also played a role on special teams.
So far, Josh Reynolds was the only addition in free agency. It’s probably safe to assume the team isn’t going to add another significant veteran at this point. This leaves the Titans pretty needy at the position. I don’t think there’s one type of receiver that Robinson has to target in this draft. The team needs to get faster and shiftier at the position. They also lost some size and run after catch ability in Davis. There’s a variety of ways Robinson could continue to diversify what he has behind budding superstar A.J. Brown.
With these loose guidelines in place, which players fit the Titans on Day 3?
Jaelon Darden, WR, North Texas
Jaelon Darden is one of my favorite Day 3 gems. Darden chose to play his college football close to home, opting to take his talents to North Texas. In doing so, he passed on bigger offers from programs such as Memphis and Virginia Tech.
Turn on the tape and it’s easy to see that Darden had the skill-set to play at a bigger program and conference. Darden leaves the program as their all-time leader in career receptions (230), receiving yards (2,782) and receiving touchdowns (38).
Darden is the definition of a gamebreaker. He’s an extremely athletic, dynamic and explosive player at the receiver position. His ability to win deep is evident by his ridiculous TD totals.
Coming in at 5-foot-7 and 174 pounds, it’s obvious that Darden lacks the desired size to play on the outside at the next level. He may never play an every down role. His frame will likely limit him to reps in the slot. It just so happens the Titans could use an elusive player there. What Darden lacks in size, he makes up for with great speed and agility. Darden ran the 40-yard dash in 4.47 seconds at his Pro Day. He also recorded an elite three-cone time of 6.66, and his 3.98 in the short shuttle is even more impressive.
Darden proved to be an effective punt returner in college. He also has some experience returning kicks. If the Titans look to replace Raymond with a player that could play a similar role, Darden would make a lot of sense on Day 3.
Most Receiving Touchdowns per Game— Scott Barrett (@ScottBarrettDFB) April 12, 2021
+ by any FBS WR since at least 2000
1. JAELON DARDEN, 2020 (2.11)
2. Stedman Bailey, 2012 (1.92)
3. Davante Adams, 2013 (1.85)
4. DEVONTA SMITH, 2020 (1.77)
5. Larry Fitzgerald, 2003 (1.69)
6. Michael Crabtree, 2007 (1.69)
Josh Palmer, WR, Tennessee
I didn’t go far for this one. Josh Palmer is a talented day three receiver that I see fitting the Titans mold. Since Jon Robinson became the general manager of the Titans, the organization has always looked to bring in a couple of prospects that played locally. Both Robinson and Mike Vrabel attended Tennessee’s Pro Day this year, so you know they got a great look at Palmer.
Palmer ran a solid 4.51 in the 40-yard dash and leaped an impressive 10-4 broad jump with Robinson and Vrabel watching closely.
One of the reasons that I think Palmer would represent excellent value in the later rounds is because I think his stock would be much higher if he played on a team that had the personnel to take advantage of his skill-set. There’s no denying that Tennessee’s offense could not move the ball through the air in 2020. They just couldn’t figure out the quarterback position. Unfortunately, Palmer was held back by that poor QB play.
A passing offense that struggles to make plays vertically just doesn’t mesh well with Palmer’s ability to win deep. That wouldn’t be a problem should he land with the Titans.
When the Vols did make plays in the passing game, Palmer’s exciting traits were on display. Palmer has the athleticism and ball skills to make a much larger impact at the next level.
Josh Palmer comps to a less physical Jordy Nelson pic.twitter.com/QzdwNiffSg— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) April 12, 2021
Cornell Powell, WR, Clemson
It’s rare and strange to call a wide receiver from a program like Clemson a sleeper, but Cornell Powell fits the bill for a few reasons. Powell was buried on Clemson’s depth chart until this past season. He finished his career strong by totaling 53 receptions for 882 yards and seven touchdowns in 2020. But a small sample size paired with how deep this receiver class is means that Powell will likely have to wait until Day 3 to hear his name called.
Powell’s testing results where somewhat average (outside of an excellent broad jump), but there are plenty of reasons to love Powell on tape. He’s an excellent route runner that understands how to get open. This is my favorite part of Powell’s game. He’s a smooth operator and incredibly efficient when it comes to getting in and out of his breaks. He’s quicker than fast. You have to be able to beat man coverage in today’s NFL and Powell did so at a high level at Clemson. He would bring some fun abilities to the Titans’ receiver room.
Cornell Powell = oh yes— Tom Downey ༼ つ ◕_◕ ༽つ (@WhatGoingDowney) January 2, 2021
Shaun Wade = oh nopic.twitter.com/sfKtI76ZYz
Cade Johnson, WR, South Dakota State
Cade Johnson is one of those players that I think is going to stick in this league for much longer than many analysts are forecasting right now. Prospects that hail from South Dakota State don’t always get the most attention when it comes to the draft, but Johnson is a fine prospect that had an incredibly productive career. In 2018 and 2019, Johnson totaled an astounding 139 catches, 2,554 receiving yards and 25 receiving touchdowns.
Johnson may not be the most physically imposing receiver at 5-foot-10 and 184 pounds, but he simply understands how to get the job done when called upon. Johnson is going to make a living in the slot at the next level, where his ability to run crisp routes and do damage after the catch really shines. Johnson was also a great kick returner at SDSU, and should add a ton of value on special teams at the next level as well.
There are a lot -- A LOT -- of good wide receivers in this class, but I find myself really liking South Dakota State's Cade Johnson— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) April 8, 2021
Re-watching Senior Bowl practices and his hands are so good. Not real big (5'11", 184) but put him in the slot and let him return kicks.