We are continuing our “By the Numbers” series today on the Tennessee Titans 2021 draft class. We looked at Caleb Farley and Dillon Radunz a few weeks ago. We also profiled Elijah Molden and Monty Rice. Today, we’re kicking the week off by writing about former Louisville wide receiver Dez Fitzpatrick.
Many Titans fans expected general manager Jon Robinson to select a wide receiver much earlier than this. Instead, Robinson decided to address offensive tackle, inside linebacker and even doubled down at cornerback before turning his attention to receiver. The Titans depth chart at the position is currently quite thin. If the season started today, one would have to believe that they expect Fitzpatrick to be an immediate contributor. Of course, there’s still time to trade for Julio Jones.
"The only thing I am worried about (now) is learning my playbook, and earning the respect of my teammates and my coaches."— Tennessee Titans (@Titans) May 19, 2021
Titans Rookie WR Dez Fitzpatrick (@dezfitz8) Aims to Prove He's a Great Catch » https://t.co/VLPuzNiC0x
Some fans have expressed their frustration with how long it took the Titans to select a receiver in this draft. I understand where you’re coming from. For me, it was especially surprising to see the Titans select an inside linebacker before a receiver.
Here goes my personal scouting report on Fitzpatrick. He’s a smart football player. The best thing I could say about this pick is that Fitzpatrick is ready to contribute right away. Rookie receivers rarely do so, but I believe Fitzpatrick has the advanced skill set to get on the field immediately. From that perspective, this fit lines up nicely. In my opinion, that’s part of the reason why the Titans liked him so much (trust me, they really liked him). He’s a technical route runner that understands how to get open. He didn’t always pop at Louisville. The quarterback play was terrible. It’s not a coincidence that Fitzpatrick put up some of the best numbers of his career as a young receiver with Lamar Jackson at QB. That was unfortunately the only season that Fitzpatrick spent at Louisville with a competent quarterback.
If the Titans don’t acquire another difference maker at the receiver position, I fully expect Fitzpatrick to be the team’s WR3. I’m of the opinion that they should make an attempt to trade for Julio Jones, but if they don’t, Fitzpatrick is going to play a lot as a rookie.
Let’s take a deeper look into how PFF graded Fitzpatrick throughout the 2020 season.
Games played: 11
Yards per catch: 19.4
Passing snaps: 350
Run blocking snaps: 228
Lined up out wide: 542 snaps
Lined up in the slot: 34 snaps
Lined up in the backfield: once
Grade as a receiver: 76.0
Overall grade: 74.7
These numbers are pretty solid. Fitzpatrick was heavily involved both as a pass catcher and as a run blocker in Louisville’s offense.
What are your thoughts on this pick? Leave your opinion in the comments.