Titans' 1st-Round Pick Kendall Wright Struggles to Break Through

Nate DunlevyGuest ColumnistOctober 2, 2012

Step one: catch the ball.
Step one: catch the ball.Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

This is not the start to the season that Kendall Wright envisioned.

Four games into his career, and Wright has struggled mightily. He has 18 catches for only 148 yards. At just 8.2 yards a catch, it's fair to say he's been ineffective.

Obviously, the 1-3 Titans have had bigger problems than Wright, especially on defense, but the lack of production from their first pick in the 2012 draft is definitely a concern.

According to the latest rankings by the Football Outsiders, Wright is the second worst receiver in football to be targeted at least 15 times.

It's not as if the Titans haven't been trying to get him the ball. He's had 33 targets in his four games, but is only catching the ball at a 54.5 percent clip. For a receiver averaging just over eight yards per reception, that catch rate is impossibly bad.

Only Justin Blackmon of the Jacksonville Jaguars ranks lower.

The Titans have come up with solid play designs for him, but he's struggled to hang on to catchable passes.

Take this incomplete pass early in the game against Houston. Wright beats his man and Locker fires a strike in stride. The safety is late coming over and if Wright hangs on to the pass, he likely scores.

Instead, the ball hits turf.

Wright had at least three dropped passes against Houston alone, after having left other balls on the ground in the previous games.

The Titans have been trying to get him the ball in space. His strength is supposed to be his breakaway speed, but as long he struggles to catch short passes, his value remains capped.

The deep-pass option hasn't worked out much better. Late in the Houston game, the Titans fired a bomb to Wright who was streaking downfield. Kareem Jackson, never known as a strong man-defender, stayed with him stride for stride to swipe the ball away.

While Jake Locker has the knock of being inaccurate and Matt Hasselbeck will never be confused with John Elway on the deep balls, the Titans' quarterbacks aren't being helped by the play of Wright.

If the Titans' offense is going to find its groove, it needs to begin with Wright hanging on to passes. If he can make a few plays short, he may find it easier to beat his man deep when the opportunity arises.