The Tennessee Titans have been clear about how they want rookies to learn as they enter the NFL.
It is the job of the coaches to make sure that the rookies are developing and learning the playbook, but along the way, they are expected to learn from the veterans in front of them on the depth chart.
A good way to think about it is to think of the position coaches as the guys who give them instructions on what to do schematically and it is up to the rookies to talk to the veterans in front of them to figure out how they can actually make that happen.
Why Kyle Philips should stick close to the Tennessee Titans’ newest WR
Jim Wyatt has been breaking down interesting players and storylines as we get closer and closer to training camp, and he recently published one on the Tennessee Titans rookie receiver. There are a pair of quotes from Philips that really caught my eye:
"“Kind of crazy, huh?,” Philips said of Woods. “Just growing up watching him play, and he was with the Rams with one of my good buddies (Terrell Burgess). … Now I am out here watching him, and learning from him. It’s kind of crazy, really, but it’s really cool.”"
"“I think most people underestimate me a little bit because of my size in regards to blocking. … I just try to do what I do, and just play ball.”"
The reason why that is so interesting to me is that Robert Woods is the perfect player for Kyle Philips to learn from. While Woods is an inch taller and about 10 pounds heavier than Philips, they both play the game with a similar mentality.
Put on any UCLA game and you will see the slot receiver burying his head into a linebacker’s chest and securing a block for a running play. Whether he has a key block or if he is just making sure that he picks up the backside defender, he isn’t afraid to mix it up with anyone on the field. Despite his size, he usually does well as a blocker and in the NFL that willingness to block is almost as important as the result.
By this point, most Tennessee Titans fans know that Robert Woods is one of the best-blocking receivers in the NFL, despite not having a 6’4, 225 lb. frame. What they may not know is that the most productive year of his career came in the one season where he had more reps as a slot receiver than as a wide receiver.
If you are going to be a scrappy, high-effort, smaller receiver who is entering the NFL with a master’s degree in route running from the slot, then Robert Woods is the perfect role model.
I’m not a big believer in players trying to make significant body changes from college to the NFL, but if Philips can add 5-10 pounds over the next few years then there isn’t a massive difference between the two physically.
Whether Philips ever gets to the level that Robert Woods is at is impossible to say right now, but the process makes sense. He isn’t trying to model his game after giant receivers like Corey Davis, Mike Evans, and Mike Williams, because he knows that he isn’t that type of receiver. Instead, he is modeling his game after someone very similar to him and that bodes well for his future and for the Tennessee Titans.