2021 NFL mock draft: A wide receiver in every round for Titans 2.0

Free agency has been a whirlwind for the Titans so far. General manager Jon Robinson has been busy retooling the roster, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. But as we assess the team in its current state, the most glaring hole is actually on the offense.

A.J. Brown is a superstar. But the Titans need more behind him. The signing of Josh Reynolds helps, but he shouldn’t be viewed as a direct replacement for Corey Davis, more as somebody that can help replace Davis by committee. The Titans also lack a starting calibre player in the slot.

As of today, the depth chart behind Brown and Reynolds includes Cameron Batson, Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, Chester Rogers, Marcus Johnson and Cody Hollister. It’s safe to say that the Titans have their work cut out for them here. Barring a surprise trade or a Sammy Watkins signing (they’ve been linked), they’re going to have to “fix” this issue through the draft.

I’ve already taken a look at this scenario once, but it seems like a good time to update this idea. Here goes a mock draft that sees the Titans select a receiver in every single round. Additionally, I did not select a single player here that I wrote about in the last article. So if you’re looking for Kadarius Toney or Amari Rodgers, here’s another reminder that they appeared in the previous version.

The point of these position-focused mock drafts is to familiarize the readers with a player the team could realistically target in each round. So here goes…

Round 1 | Rashod Bateman | Minnesota

This is going to be a popular name associated with the Titans over the next month. Get used to it. The team needs a Corey Davis replacement and Rashod Bateman would fit the bill. It’s probably safe to assume that players like DeVonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle and Ja’Marr Chase will be off the board by the time the Titans come on the clock at pick number 22 overall. My evaluation tells me that Bateman is a first-round talent all day long.

Bateman features an exciting blend skills. At 6-foot-1 and 210 pounds, he possesses the size and baseline traits to play on the outside at the next level. Minnesota didn’t ask Bateman to run a full route tree, but he’s a crisp and efficient route runner who shouldn’t have a problem expanding his horizons at the next level. He does a great job getting in and out of his breaks.

Bateman has a “my ball” mentality when the ball’s in the air. He’s a strong contested catch winner that can reel in any throw as long as it’s in his vicinity.

His best asset may be what he does after the catch. And this is where I really like the fit in Tennessee’s offense. Bateman is a tough and physical player that’s incredibly difficult to tackle in the open field. He very much reminds me of Corey Davis in this area. Bateman has great vision with the ball in his hands and he makes good decisions in this area.

And this may not matter much, but it’s interesting nonetheless… Bateman was coached at Minnesota by Matt Simon, who also coached Corey Davis at Western Michigan when the Titans drafted him. So there may be a relationship there already between Titans evaluators and Bateman’s position coaches.

Bateman would be a natural fit in this offense.

Round 2 | Rondale Moore | Purdue

Speed and creativity with the ball in his hands. That’s what Rondale Moore could offer this team. We’ve touched on the need for a slot receiver here. Moore would fit the bill.

Moore dropped jaws at his Pro Day with his athletic ability. To the surprise of few, Moore ran the 40 in an unofficial 4.29 seconds. He also recorded an astounding 42.5-inch vertical jump. Both numbers would have ranked in the top 10 all-time had they occured at the NFL Scouting Combine, which of course didn’t happen this year.

On tape, Moore is an electric player after the catch. He accelerates in a hurry and is a threat to score every time he touches the ball. It felt like Purdue designed their entire offense for him at times as they consistently found ways to get the ball in his hands. His short area explosion really pops on screen, especially on crossing patterns. He may be small, but he’s incredibly physical and tough for his size.

Size is the concern with Moore, who came in at 5-foot-7. The list of productive NFL receivers under 5-foot-8 is a short one. In addition, Moore missed eight games in 2019 with a hamstring injury. He only played in 3 games in 2020 due to COVID-19. Moore’s injury history paired with his size is likely to worry a lot of decision makers around the league.

Teams will have to decide how comfortable they are with those factors when placing him on their draft board. Whoever gambles on him may get a big-time weapon.

Round 3 | Elijah Moore | Ole Miss

I’m doubling down on Moore’s here. This is a player I’ve been high on for several months now. Similar to the Moore I selected in the second round, this Moore also tore up his Pro Day.

Just earlier this week at Ole Miss’ showcase, Moore recorded a 4.32s 40-yard dash, 6.65s three-cone drill, a 36-inch vertical, and a 10-foot-1 broad jump.

This is an incredibly electric and dynamic player. He simply makes great things happen on what feels like a snap-by-snap basis. Ole Miss designed a lot of plays to simply get the ball in Moore’s hands, and it’s easy to see why. His run-after-catch ability puts a lot of stress on the defense. Moore has played both outside and in the slot, but figures to make a permanent home in the slot at the next level.

Moore lacks ideal size at 5-foot-9 and 178 pounds, but it’s tough to find many holes in his game beyond the size factor. He didn’t run a full route tree for the Rebels, and will have to become more of an all-around player in the NFL. All in all, Moore is an energetic playmaker that should make a lot of defensive backs look silly on Sundays.

What’s more, he already has an extremely close relationship with his former teammate at Ole Miss and current Titan, A.J. Brown. John Glennon told their story for Broadway back in November.

Round 3 | Tylan Wallace | Oklahoma State

Just like I’ve done in all of these scenarios, I’m offering an alternative option here in the third round since the Titans currently own two picks in this round.

All Tylan Wallace does is make plays downfield. That’s all he did in college, that’s all he did at the Senior Bowl, and it’s what he’ll do at the next level as well. The Titans’ passing game could benefit from somebody that can routinely come out as the victor in contested catch situations. I’m not sure there’s a better one in this class than Wallace.

Wallace’s ability to consistently win 50-50 balls downfield is unmatched in this draft class. He routinely makes those plays feel like they’re 75-25 in his favor. You can credit some of Wallace’s production to the fact that he played in the Air Raid offense at Oklahoma State. But Wallace can’t help the scheme he played in, and you have to pat him on the back for putting up the huge numbers that he did.

Wallace would look good catching deep balls from Ryan Tannehill.

Round 4 | Anthony Schwartz | Auburn

Ladies and gentleman, I present to you, “The Flash.” This offense needs to get faster at the position. The team’s lone free agent addition in the pass-catching department (Reynolds) is not somebody that offers speed. Schwartz has deep speed for days. He would be an upgrade on the Kalif Raymond role, if you will. Schwartz ran a ridiculous 4.26 (unofficial) in the 40-yard dash at Auburn’s Pro Day last week.

This is a player that interests me for a number of reasons. His versatility is going to help a team at the next level. He played both inside and outside at Auburn. His speed is truly dynamic and elite. I think we’d be talking a lot more about Auburn’s duo of receivers (the other one being Seth Williams) if they played in a better passing offense.

I would love to watch Schwartz in this offense.

Round 5 | Simi Fehoko | Stanford

Who, you might be asking? Simi Fehoko, that’s who. I thought about placing Fehoko as high as the third round in this scenario. That may surprise you, but simply put, receivers with Fehoko’s rare size and speed combination usually don’t last long on draft weekend.

My good friend Ben Fennell (who does terrific work, by the way) understands:

Fehoko officially came in at 6-foot-4 and 222 pounds at Stanford’s Pro Day. He ran the 40-yard dash in a blazing 4.42 (unofficial) seconds. Fehoko has tremendous ball skills and regularly stretched the field at Stanford. On tape, he plays every bit as fast as the 40 time indicates.

Fehoko has an interesting story. He’ll be a bit older than your average rookie (he’s currently 23) because he spent two years in South Korea on a Mormon mission fresh out of high school. He would later return home to attend Stanford at the conclusion of his mission.

This is an exciting player with an NFL bloodline; his cousin Alfred Pupunu played for the San Diego Chargers from 1992 to 2000, and last year, his cousin Breiden Fehoko was a UDFA pickup by the Chargers who starred on Hard Knocks during the preseason.

Round 6 | Frank Darby | Arizona State

Sleeper alert (even though he went to a big school). Arizona State’s Frank Darby is one of my favorite players in this draft that nobody seems to be talking about. I’m not sure why he isn’t getting more hype. Darby is a really smart football player. He’s a good athlete and he’s quicker than he looks.

Darby was a playmaker for the Sun Devils. Despite often waiting in the wings behind the likes of N’Keal Harry and Brandon Aiyuk, Darby scored 13 touchdowns and recorded 1,300 receiving yards. 2020 was supposed to be his year. He was finally set to be the team’s No. 1 receiver, but COVID-19 robbed us of the Darby breakout season. Perhaps that’s why people aren’t talking about Darby as much as they should be.

In terms of where Darby wins, he’s a savvy route runner that’s been described as the hardest worker on his team. He has an excellent understanding of how to control and position his body in order to get open. Darby should compete for reps in the slot at the next level.

Round 7 | Austin Watkins, Jr. | UAB

Hey! I finally get to make a real pick here. In previous editions of this article, the Titans didn’t have a seventh round pick in April’s draft, but they do now thanks to the Isaiah Wilson trade.

A JUCO product, Watkins is another Day 3 favorite of mine. Watkins pairs size and speed with ball skills and electric vertical ability. The cousin of NFL receiver Sammy Watkins, the UAB playmaker routinely embarrassed DBs on tape. Seriously, what he did to South Alabama in 2020 is illegal in 50 states:

Watkins isn’t just a big, speedy receiver that makes plays downfield at the catch point. He’s also an exciting player after the catch, too. Watkins has to clean up several areas of his game in order to become a more complete receiver, but he has every baseline trait you look for in an NFL receiver.

Let us know your thoughts on this wide receiver mock draft in the comments below!

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