Justin Hunter to the Titans: How Does Wide Receiver Fit in Tennessee?
Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports
Think it's not an offensive league? When the Vikings traded up last night, giving four picks to the Patriots to get back into the end of the first round, the assumption was that they were going to take Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o. Instead, the Vikings selected Cordarrelle Patterson.
Justin Hunter has been compared to Randy Moss and A.J. Green. He has the long, lanky frame, measuring at 6'4 and 196 pounds, and he can be a deep threat. There are caveats.
The first is his ACL injury suffered in 2011. In a strange coincidence, Hunter tore his ACL in the third game of the 2011 season, and that was the same point in the season in which Kenny Britt tore his ACL. Both players had explosive starts to the season and neither has returned to pre-injury form.
The second is with his on-field performance. Hunter struggles with his route tree and has inconsistent hands. He's not a great blocker at this point in his career.
As to how he fits in with the current roster, the Titans seem willing to let Britt leave as a free agent after his rookie contract expires.
Britt has flashed greatness but hasn't had more than 45 catches or 800 yards in a single season with the franchise. His off-field exploits are too egregious for the team to be willing to invest the WR1 money that it could take to keep him on the team after this season.
Fellow starter Nate Washington is getting toward the end of his time in Nashville as well. He's owed about $10 million in the next two seasons. He's been a solid but unspectacular receiver for the Titans, which makes him one of the best WR free agents in the post-Houston history of the franchise.
This pick is about 2014 and beyond. Hunter's young, will get a year to develop, and even if he doesn't regain the top speed he showed off in his freshman and sophomore seasons, he can be a physical downfield receiver.
The current front office and coaching staff will all be out the door if there isn't improvement. They must see an immediate return from Hunter to reach their high goals for this season.
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