Tennessee Titans: Can the Wide Receivers Take the Next Step in 2018?
By Kyle Zwiazek
Let the hype train start rolling in, as the 2018 season seems like it is right around the corner and we cannot be more excited here at Titan Sized. With all that excitement, it is time to look at the wide receiver position going into next season.
Tennessee Titans GM Jon Robinson has shown a lot of confidence in his wide receiving corps going into 2018. That confidence has kept the group of Rishard Matthews, Corey Davis, Taywan Taylor, and Tajae Sharpe together. Those four athletes will be the core group of guys catching passes from QB Marcus Mariota next season. That is a lot of confidence in a group that has not proven a lot. The only proven veteran on the roster is Matthews. As much as fans want to believe in the other guys, they are still unproven.
The most talented of the bunch is second-year man Corey Davis. He is a first round pick with a lot of potential. Davis’ rookie season was marred by injury and he hasn’t even come close to reaching his potential. Davis only played 11 games last season, compiling 375 receiving yards. When Davis was picked fifth overall, the expectations were a lot higher. That does not mean that he will not reach those expectations. Davis is also coming from Western Michigan, so he may take more time to adjust to the NFL than some higher picks from big name schools. Look for Davis to have a breakout season in 2018 if he can stay healthy.
The speedy slot receiver with a ton of upside is Taywan Taylor. Jon Robinson showed he wanted to get Marcus Mariota some weapons in 2017 when he drafted two wide receivers in the first three rounds of the draft. Taylor is the prototypical slot receiver that you hear about all the time. The problem was that last season, Eric Decker was getting most of the time in the slot. That led to Taylor getting sporadic playing time and underachieving. Now that the team has an offensive coordinator with a forward thinking mind in charge of the offense, look for Taylor to be more involved. This should lead to Taylor putting it all together and striking fear into NFL defenses.
Out of the three of these guys, Tajae Sharpe had the best rookie season in the NFL. In 2016, Sharpe burst onto the scene in Nashville. Sharpe had 522 yards and two touchdowns in 16 games with the Titans in 2016. Unfortunately, Sharpe did not see the field in 2017 because of a stress fracture in his right foot. It was one of those injuries that the staff wanted to make sure was fully healed before he got back into football activities. Needless to say, Sharpe still has a lot of upside going into 2018. He is still a young player looking to prove that he should be one of the top receivers. In fact, he will probably have a chip on his shoulder because he is the veteran out of this group of three receivers with one year under their belt. He wants to show he belongs.
Overall, there is a lot to be excited about. Even though these players have a small sample size, they should take the next step next season. With new offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur at the helm, the offense will look a lot different in 2018. Marcus Mariota will look to use these weapons in a different fashion than last season. It will be exciting to see what this receiving corps can do in 2018.