The Tennessee Titans surprised many by trading up in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft to pick receiver Justin Hunter. The team already had an extremely solid and talented receiving corps with Kenny Britt, Kendall Wright and Nate Washington at the position.
The desperation of Hunter’s selection reflects the Titans coaching staff’s concerns with Britt’s health and conduct to a point where they were willing to move up to draft a young potential receiving superstar as a precautionary in case Tennessee needs to backup (or even replace) Britt. However, Hunter was by far the most talented receiver in the draft, and the Titans stole a player who would’ve been a top ten pick a year ago in the second round.
Tennessee is going to make the playoffs. Everyone is counting this team as out of the playoff hunt because of Jake Locker’s relative inexperience at quarterback and Chris Johnson’s recent struggles at running back, but both of these problems stem from the poor offensive line. The Titans went after a better offensive line in the draft and the offseason and finally have a decent group of players up front. The improved offensive line is going to make a noticeable difference to the Titans offense.
With Johnson able to run and Locker able to have time to get rid of the football, the receivers are going to benefit. Most of the defenses that the Titans face will be focusing on Britt and Locker’s favorite target, Washington, which will leave Wright and Hunter open for big plays down the field. Don’t be surprised if Hunter is credited with multiple touchdowns and games with well over 100 yards this season.
If not for the ACL injury his freshman year at Tennessee, Hunter probably would have been the top receiving prospect in the country. He had an outstanding ability to dodge tackles in the open field, and he showed a natural ability to burst past the defense and come up with the ball 30 or 40 yards down the field. It was clear that he was a little hesitant from his injury and overshadowed by the success of Cordarrelle Patterson his last season with the Volunteers, but he will soon find success with the Titans. Expect Hunter to have an outstanding first season with Tennessee and win the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year.