Might the Titans draft an injured guy again? Alabama WRs could offer options

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Titans need a high-quality, consistently threatening receiver.

They draft 26th in the first round.Metchie

One receiver who typically wouldn’t be available at that stage of the draft may slip to that range because he is recovering from an ACL repair. A teammate is in a similar circumstance but will likely be available later.

Alabama teammates Jameson Williams (6-2, 189) and John Metchie (6-foot-0, 195) suffered the same injury a few weeks apart.

Metchie tore his in the SEC Championship Game against Georgia on Dec. 4, 2021. Williams endured the same fate Jan. 10 in the National Championship Game.

The two were big attractions Wednesday at the NFL scouting combine. [Unlocked]

Williams is rated as having elite speed while Metchie's field-stretching, comes more via great routes and as a result of being a quick-twitch athlete. Still, he said he’s been telling teams he thinks he’d be running a 4.4, maybe a low 4.4, 40 if he was healthy.

Said Williams about his knee and the draft: “I hope it doesn’t affect me but I’m not sure how it affects me. At the end of the day, I just hope to get drafted. I hope a team takes a shot at me.”

An optimistic Metchie said he doesn’t expect his rehabilitation to affect his draft stock.

“I don't really sense much concern for my injury, everything checks off, everything's going well, rehab's going well, them looking at my knee is going well,” he said. “So, no, I don't really get that sense.”

Williams may be a big prize in this draft. But either may be a great addition to a team that was unsettled at No. 2 receiver throughout 2021 as Julio Jones played only nine games with injuries. Designating Jones as a post-June 1 cut could save Tennessee over $9 million against the cap.

Jon Robinson has not been afraid of drafting guys coming off injuries.

The Titans took Jeffery Simmons 19th overall in 2019 as he was coming off a torn ACL suffered in combine prep. He missed the first six games of his rookie year, but was impactful that season.

In his just-completed third season, he was a tremendous force against the run and pass and the decision to draft him looks great. The team will exercise his fifth-year option for 2023 in the spring and aim to sign him long-term before 2024.

Last year with the 22nd pick, they chose Caleb Farley coming off two back surgeries. He was ready relatively early in camp. But injured a shoulder. He played eight defensive snaps in the opener and was inactive for three games after that 

He played two games before he suffered the second ACL tear of his football career.

“I thought Caleb was on track, he was back practicing, he was moving around good, and then had the unfortunate injury there,” Robinson said. “He is working hard, he has been in there every day, I see him in there. He is rehabbing, he is getting stronger.”

Would the Titans go to the injured-player well again for Williams or Metchie?

“Those are some of the harder discussions we have, is the risk-reward of the player,” Robinson said. “Knowing that, and with those two players specifically, the timing of that injury and how much of the season they are going to miss and not have those guys, relatives to the dividends that they might bring to your football team.”

Alabama produces receivers in droves: Jaylen Waddle, Jerry Jeudy, Calvin Ridley (who stepped away in 2021), Amari Cooper and Jones are among the current Crimson Tide alum in the NFL at the position.

Metchie was asked what about his game translates to the NFL level, and his answer fits perfectly into what the Titans regularly talk about.apple icon 144x144 precomposed

“Route running and getting open,” he said. “I think getting open is the key of being a receiver. Getting open, creating space and versatility. I played on the outside, I played on the inside, I ran routes out of the backfield, I think you can put me anywhere on the field and I can get open.” 

He’d be a great add, but it’s a healthy Williams who could really give the Titans the element they’ve consistently been missing, a downfield threat with a different level of speed.

“I feel like that is going to be a big benefit,” he said. “My deep-play threat is exciting and it happens frequently. So I feel like it would be a big add-on to whatever team takes a shot at me.”

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