It’s been said that change comes when you least expect it.
As we all know, the Tennessee Titans haven’t dipped their hands into the first round wide receiver cookie jar since 1998, when they selected less controversial Kevin Dyson over the mercurial Randy Moss.
In the ten drafts since, the Titans have stockpiled receivers in the lower rounds but not once have they spent a first rounder on a WR.
Of course, this value-approach to drafting wideouts did produce Derrick Mason but for the most part, the strategy has been less-than-successful, yielding the likes of Tyrone Calico, Joel Filani, Courtney Roby and a slew of other forgettable names who failed to make their marks in the league.
As we approach yet another draft, there are a few subtle indications that could potentially lead to the unthinkable: the Tennessee Titans drafting a WR in the first round.
Memo to difference-makers: Mike Reinfeldt wants you
When GM Mike Reinfeldt speaks, we all should listen.
Around this time last year, Reiny gave out subtle hints that the Titans were interested in a guy such as Chris Johnson in the first round.
This year, Reinfeldt specifically mentioned the desire to add a difference-maker in the first round or so:
“As you go high up in the draft, I think you’re looking for guys who can be difference makers, and as you go down in the draft, I think you’re looking for depth and guys to fill in your roster.”
Cornerback is the position that many of us think will be addressed with the team’s first pick but the quote above does make you at least contemplate re-evaluating that prediction.
With Cortland Finnegan and Nick Harper firmly planted as the team’s starting corners, barring injury, it will be difficult for a rookie corner to come in and make an immediate impact on this roster.
Could the difference-maker Mike Reinfeldt may be referring to be someone like Hakeem Nicks or Percy Harvin?
Pre-Draft WR visits
As the pre-draft visits unfold, at least a dozen of the players venturing to Baptist Sports Park just happen to play the wide receiver position.
Of course, pre-draft visits aren’t always a firm indicator of a team’s draft intentions. For example, QB Josh Freeman also visited Nashville, but with a trio of former first rounders already on the roster at the QB position, the interest in Josh was probably more of a dog and pony show than anything else.
With top wideouts such as Heyward-Bey, Nicks and Harvin coming to town, the WR visits may be an indicator of the team’s intention to at least explore the possibility of adding a receiving playmaker in the first round for a change.
The “Jay Cutler Trade” Effect
Last year, the Titans reaped the benefits of a deep class of runners with Chris Johnson still on the draft board at pick #24.
This year’s deep class of receiving threats may produce a similar situation for the Titans, who could still have a shot of adding a premier WR at selection #30.
Mike Reinfeldt’s chances of adding a WR in the first round may have also been helped out by the Jay Cutler trade.
Chicago was regarded as a team interested in drafting a WR but now their pick belongs to Denver, who probably won’t be looking at a receiver as a result of already having Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal on the roster.
That’s one less team to compete with for the draft’s best talent at WR.
So what do you think guys? Could 2009 be the year that the Titans finally draft another first round WR?