The NFL Combine is underway, and free agency begins on February 29. Teams are beginning to put together pieces to improve their chances in 2008.
I should say, in most cases, teams are improving their chances. Today the Chicago Bears resigned Rex Grossman. I can’t understand why.
Here’s how I think the Titans should add offensive weapons to its arsenal.
1. Find a free agent playmaker at wide receiver
Note that I said “free agent.” I do not support the notion that the Titans should select a wide receiver in the first round of April’s draft. First round receivers have a shakier success rate than quarterbacks.
Let’s look back at the first year number of receivers from the first round of last year’s draft (pick number and team in parentheses):
- Calvin Johnson (2 – Lions): 48 catches, 756 yards, 4 TDS
Remember how Johnson was supposed to set the league on fire, and how he was such a sure thing? 48 catches is a very modest output.
- Ted Ginn, Jr. (9 – Dolphins): 34 catches, 420 yards, 2 TDs
Am I glad the Titans didn’t believe the hype and draft a player who is essentially a return specialist. Remember Desmond Howard, anyone?
- Dwayne Bowe (23 – Chiefs): 70 catches 995 yards, 5 TDs
This is more like it, but who have predicted that Bowe would produce these type of numbers. I would have assumed Calvin Johnson would have a 70-catch season. My point is that it’s very hard to predict which first round receiver will produce for you and that the majority of them will be disappointments, as in …
- Robert Meachem (27 – Saints): 0 catches, 0 yards, 0 TDs
How many Titans fans wanted the team to draft the University of Tennessee guy? Conventional wisdom says Meachem didn’t play because he was rehabbing a knee injury. Nevertheless, he was a first round pick who contributed nothing to his team during his rookie season.
- Craig Davis (30 – Chargers): 20 catches, 188 yards, 1 TD
Does anyone outside San Diego and Baton Rouge know anything about Craig Davis?
- Anthony Gonzalez (32 – Colts) 37 catches, 576 yards, 3 TDs
Here’s the guy I hoped the Titans would draft. I thought he was underrated coming out of Ohio State and expected him to be drafted in the second or third round. Unfortunately, division rival Indianapolis needed a third receiver to compliment Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne and selected Gonzalez last in the first round.
So, out of six picks, I’d say two of them met or surpassed team expectations (Bowe and Gonzalez), one performed slightly below team expectations (Johnson), and the remaining three underperformed.
Steve Smith was picked by the New York Giants in the second round. He only had eight catches during the regular season but had 14 during the Giants playoff run. Smith was a player I liked coming out of USC, but the Titans chose Chris Henry one pick ahead of Smith in 2007.
Free agent prospects the Titans should consider are Donte Stallworth, Bernard Berrian, Jerry Porter, Andre Davis and D. J. Hackett. I really like Andre Davis as a complementary receiver. He’s fast and he makes tough catches across the middle.
I fully expect the Patriots to resign Randy Moss. Also, the Titans must resign Justin Gage. Gage is a big target who developed chemistry with Vince Young and would continue to help Tennessee’s offense, despite his lack of speed.
2. Find a true 3rd down running back
The Titans need a change of pace running back who’s small, smart and shifty and who can serve as a safety valve for Vince Young on third down. Who fits the bill?
- Verron Haynes
- Julius Jones
- Derrick Ward
- Tatum Bell
- Mewelde Moore
- Aaron Stecker
- Reno Mahe
3. Sign Alge Crumpler
‘Nuff said. According to this story by the Tennessean, there is a good possibility Crumpler will be a Titan.