No area of the Titans offense got a bigger makeover than the wide receiver position.
Not only did Tennessee spent two high draft picks (Corey Davis, first round; Taywan Taylor, third round) at this position that needed upgrading, Titans GM Jon Robinson didn’t stop there, bringing in former Jets and Broncos receiver Eric Decker at the end of mini-camps.
Given the transformation at receiver, the wideout from last year who appears truly safe in this overhaul is Rishard Matthews, who had 65 catches for 945 yards and nine TDs a year ago after coming in as a free agent from Miami.
Things have been in flux at receiver for about a year now. Gone are disappointments like Dorial Green-Beckham (traded last year) and Kendall Wright, who left for Chicago as a free agent after floundering in his final two seasons with the Titans.
Even Tajae Sharpe, a fifth-rounder who started as a rookie last year, looks to be taking a tumble down the depth chart after a 41-catch season in 2016. Add in a foot injury and a potential off-field problem, and Sharpe’s fortunes are not nearly as, well sharp, as they were a year ago when he quickly ascended to the top of the depth chart.
One thing is for sure: No position on the roster (not even defensive back) will be scrutinized any more than the receiver position as the pecking order for 2017 is fleshed out.
WRs currently on the roster: 13 _ Rishard Matthews (6th year, Nevada); Corey Davis (Rookie, Western Michigan); Eric Decker (8th year, Minnesota); Taywan Taylor (Rookie, Western Kentucky); Tajae Sharpe (2nd year, UMass); Harry Douglas (10th year, Louisville); Tre McBride (3rd year, William & Mary); Eric Weems (10th year, Bethune-Cookman); Darius Jennings (1st year, Virginia); Jonathan Krause (1st year, Vanderbilt); KeVonn Maybon (Rookie, Ball State); Mekale McKay (1st year, Cincinnati); Giovanni Pascascio (Rookie, Louisville).
WRs projected on the 53-man roster: 5 to 6.
Best storylines of camp/preseason: How much does Eric Decker have after coming off an injury-plagued season with the Jets, how quickly Corey Davis and Taywan Taylor grab roles, can Tajae Sharpe get healthy and can old vets like Harry Douglas and Eric Weems show enough to stick around.
Analysis: As you can see from the storylines above, this is an area that will be watched heavily in camp to see who steps forward. All eyes will be on Davis and Decker early, the former to show he was worthy of the No. 5 overall pick and the latter to show, much like DeMarco Murray a year ago, that a fresh start in Tennessee can rejuvenate his career. Sharpe is on the spot to try and hold off Taylor to be the fourth receiver, while Douglas faces an even bigger challenge – one he answered last year – to hang on for another season. The constant in all this is Matthews, who will still need to show that last year was not a fluke, after bettering his previous career high by 20 receptions.
Weems, despite coming in as a free agent this year, still has to prove his worth as a kick returner to earn a spot, while McBride’s chances appear slimmer than ever after bouncing between the roster and practice squad the past two years.