Props to Greg Trippiedi, one of our writers on MVN’s Redskins site, Hog Heaven. Greg also made some major contributions to MVN’s draft coverage and was the only writer I’m aware of who didn’t give a first-round draft grade to any receivers this year, not once but twice.
To the dismay of many Titans fans, Greg was absolutely right. Don’t despair, however, all is not lost. The Titans have said they plan on using Chris Johnson some at receiver.
“There’s a lot of film of him lining up as a wide receiver and doing good things there like his running ability and the speed he brings to us. He gives us a chance for a home run hitter. He makes our special teams better immediately as a returner. I think we said we needed to add speed and a big-play guy, and we did that in a couple of areas,” said Mike Heimerdinger.
Titans scout Cole Proctor gave this report:
“Its exciting because hes instant. Just plant the foot, and boom, hes gone. We looked at two screen passes when he took one against North Carolina and I think he took it 83 yards, he took another one 80 yards in another game. He just has world class speed a 10.3 [100 meters], hes on the national championship 4 X 100 relay. He has track speed, but he has football speed. Its going to be fun to have him with the things that you can do with him. He can carry the ball and he can also get out there and be a receiver and also be a returner, so I think were going to see a lot of touches for this young man.”
Remember John Simon, the little UDFA scatback who was with Tennessee in 2002? I recall he was occasionally split wide and Steve McNair once threw him a bomb for a TD. That’s how I’d like to see Dinger use him every now and then, as well as some screen passes.
I like several things about this. Johnson will stretch the field, hopefully. Just the threat of him should loosen defenses up. Imagine him either wide or in the slot — safeties will take notice of him. You won’t see eight men in the box as often and LenDale White should be more effective running against nickel defenses.
And it’s not like Johnson can’t be a good receiver when called on — he caught 125 passes in college.
Those are some of the positives. I know some of you aren’t sold on him and for good reason. First of all, he’s a rookie and I try not to get too excited about rookies. It’s rare when they can change a team’s fortunes.
Is Johnson just another version of Chris Henry? Very possibly. Other than being faster than Henry, what can he do that Henry can’t?
And putting some speed outside hasn’t worked that well in recent years. Tyrone Calico had a combination of size and speed. Courtney Roby was the fastest Titan rookie in recent years and supposedly ran a 4.28. Neither one of them got much respect from defenses and both were released before their initial contracts expired.
As with all rookies, we’ll have to see Johnson on the field. But with the potential he has, I’m looking forward to watching him.