3 Receivers battling for a key role in the Tennessee Titans offense

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Houston Texans v New York Giants / Jim McIsaac/GettyImages

As much as some Tennessee Titans fans want a savior at the wide receiver position, the coaching staff and front office seem more interested in letting competition play out until September and then making a decision then.

Mike Vrabel and Ran Carthon preached a message of playing the board and rolling the dice during the 2023 NFL Draft, and that ended up as a mixed bag. In all likelihood, the team spent seven picks (if you include the future third-round pick they used to trade up to get Will Levis) on six offensive players but only one immediate starter.

The good news is that the likely starter is their first-round pick, guard Peter Skoronski who should round out the new and improved offensive line well. The bad news is that the Tennessee Titans are going to start Nick Westbrook-Ikhine...again...and it was by design.

When new Tennessee Titans OC Tim Kelly was asked whether the team felt like they had enough talent at wide receiver, he responded with a simple, "Yes." before moving on to the next question.

Every day I become more and more convinced that Treylon Burks and Chig Okonkwo are going to be the top targets in the passing game, but that the passing game will continue to be an afterthought in this offense.

However, even the Tennessee Titans will need multiple starters at the receiver position to function during the season. With Burks locked in as the X receiver, NWI will be the Z receiver, and Kyle Philips is almost certainly locked in as the slot receiver on three wide receiver sets. While it looks like that wraps up the receiver position from a starter and role-player standpoint, that isn't quite true.

Under Mike Vrabel, the Tennessee Titans really try to rotate receivers in and out of the lineup at a high rate. There will almost certainly be a third boundary receiver that has a similar snap count to the Z receiver, which means that they still need another receiver to emerge from this group. It also is very important that this receiver be able to be "versatile" and play special teams as more than a returner.

Who will emerge as the Tennessee Titans other receiver?

When you break it down, there are really only three in-house options that make sense as a boundary receiver that can also be active on special teams.

1. Racey McMath

It is brutal that McMath was one of the dozens and dozens of Tennessee Titans players that got hurt last season. Not only did the team really need him as a vertical threat, but he was having a great camp by all accounts and he was set to finally factor into the offense as more than a three-snap-per-game type of player.

McMath has always had the tools to be an NFL player, he just needs to get more comfortable on the field and prove that he can come in and do his job without looking like he is running at three-quarters speed.

2. Chris Moore

Moore has always been more of a special teams player than a true receiver over his career, but when he spoke in front of the media he really made it sound like the coaches gave him the idea that he would finally get to come into camp with the idea of being an offensive player that plays special teams instead of the other way around.

Based on what Moore has done in the past, Moore feels a lot like another NWI-type player without the upside of a guy like Racey McMath but who is more consistent (though boring).

3. Colton Dowell

Dowell is a strange player that really doesn't fit into the mold of the other two players on this list. He is a late Day 3 pick with athleticism like Racey McMath, but he was also much more productive in college than McMath was and he doesn't have special teams experience.

On paper, he is clearly the player with the best chance to become a starting wide receiver in the NFL if for no other reason than his athleticism and the fact that he hasn't already been pigeonholed as a WR4/5 type.

Dowell is the rare receiver that is going to be guaranteed a chance to go through training camp and the preseason with two top-100 picks at quarterback. Whether he gets to play in the first quarter, the fourth quarter, or anywhere in between, Dowell is going to be given a chance with a quarterback that has the ability to make him look good and a guy who is motivated to make splash plays.

As fun as it would be for Dowell to win the role, it feels like the classic Mike Vrabel move would be to keep Chris Moore for the safety of it and then cut McMath and Dowell hoping that you get them on the practice squad.

This all is subject to change whether that means a new receiver comes in after being claimed on the waiver wire, one of the UDFAs emerges as something special, or one of these three stands out so much that it turns into a no-contest. However, as it stands right now it seems like Tennessee Titans fans need to get used to the idea of seeing more of...well, Moore.