While the Titans surprised many draft prognosticators by taking Kendall Wright in the first-round of April's NFL Draft, the selection of the Baylor wide receiver filled a need and provided value at the same time.
If Kenny Britt misses the first several games of the regular season, Wright will likely be inserted into the starting lineup at the “X position” or split-end. The selection of Wright enabled the Titans to address two other needs in Rounds 2 and 3 -- with the picks of linebacker Zach Brown and defensive tackle Mike Martin. All three have shown considerable potential in training camp, despite facing a significant learning curve.
Top pick: WR Kendall Wright (first round, No. 20 overall) -- Wright has excelled with his ability to improvise while running option-routes. The routes allow Wright to read the defense before deciding whether to break it off or continue his pattern. The 5-10, 196 pound receiver flourished in a similar system at Baylor and has had little trouble adjusting to this aspect of offensive coordinator Chris Palmer's scheme.
Wright, however, has been far from perfect. In a joint practice with Atlanta on Aug. 6, Wright waggled too much in an attempt to juke Falcons cornerback Asante Samuel on a deep route. Wright broke to the inside, while Matt Hasselbeck threw a pass down the right sideline that was easily intercepted by Samuel. Afterward, the rookie admitted to over-thinking too much at times. Grade: A-
No. 2 pick: LB Zach Brown (second round, No. 52 overall) -- Linebackers coach Frank Bush is enamored with Brown's athleticism and potential to make tackles in space. Brown was clocked as one of the fastest players in the Draft but received a label of being “allergic to contact.” The weakside linebacker may have silenced his critics with a jarring hit on Buccaneers' running back Mossis Madu in Friday's win.
Brown is hoping to pick up the terminology of the defensive scheme more quickly. Once it becomes second-nature to Brown, the 6-1, 242 pound linebacker may be able to break into the lineup. Brown continues to battle Will Witherspoon for the starting weakside linebacker spot. Grade: B
No. 3 pick: DT Mike Martin (third round, No. 82 overall) -- Martin appears to have supplanted veteran Shaun Smith at nose tackle when the Titans employ a three-down look. The former high school wrestler has impressed the staff with his ability to shed double-teams and penetrate into the gaps effectively. Martin has also demonstrated versatility in alternating between nose tackle and 3-technique.
The Titans have received strong play from starting defensive tackles Jurrell Casey and Sen'Derrick Marks through two weeks of the preseason. As a result, the majority of Martin's reps have come against opposing second- and third-team offenses. Grade: B+
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