Tennessee Titans cut Dez Fitzpatrick: Why you shouldn’t be worried
By Will Lomas
August 31st, the NFL’s mandatory day that every franchise needed to trim its roster to the league-mandated 53 men has come and gone. Tennessee Titans made noise when they cut one of their fourth-round picks from the 2021 NFL Draft, wide receiver Dez Fitzpatrick.
As you might expect, social media exploded, but there are a few things that everyone needs to remember.
First and foremost, as more and more cuts become official it looks like there are going to be scores of wide receivers hitting the open market. That is the climate for a buyer’s market which means that it may be in the best interest of the Tennessee Titans and Fitzpatrick if he re-signs with the team and lands on the practice squad.
Aside from that, there are two things that need to be brought up to properly evaluate whether the pick was a bust or not.
The Tennessee Titans are different now than they were in April
Going into the 2021 NFL Draft, the Tennessee Titans had to spend a draft pick on a wide receiver, they didn’t have anyone that was anywhere close to a proven player for the WR3 role. A month later that job belonged to Josh Reynolds because Jon Robinson traded for future Hall of Fame receiver Julio Jones.
Instead of getting the obligatory year of rookie development, Fitzpatrick was pushed down to the WR4 role before he walked in the door. Then during camp, Chester Rodgers emerged as a dynamic punt returner while Fitzpatrick didn’t have that skill set.
During practices, an unlikely rival emerged as Marcus Johnson started making big play after big play, and just like that, Fitzpatrick found himself as the WR6 on the Titans roster without anything that set him apart on special teams.
Ultimately what got Fitzpatrick in trouble was that he wasn’t a great blocker and he didn’t have special teams versatility. All of that would have been alright if the Titans didn’t trade for Julio Jones and if Rodgers and Johnson had stayed in the background, but he lost the numbers game.
Was the pick a bust? In a word, no.
Look, everyone wants every pick to make the roster and for their team to get the hidden gems of the draft (like Rashad Weaver might be) but it is rare to find Day 3 picks that make a big difference.
Throughout the years, people have shown time and time again that the difference in value between the start 4th round (the 106th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft) and the start of the 7th round is about as much as the difference between the 80th pick and the 100th pick.
At that point, it is all a crapshoot based on what a coaching staff and front office believe a player might become, but at this point in the draft, every prospect comes with a ‘but’ in his profile.
Sometimes that means taking a productive player who played against poor competition, sometimes it is valuing pure athleticism over technique, other times it is character concerns that push guys down the board, and the list goes on.
The Titans traded low-value picks for another low-value pick for a chance to draft a guy that they had a good feeling about. With any luck, they will get him back on the practice squad and they can coach him up throughout the year to potentially step in later in the season or they can re-evaluate him in 2022.