NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A Tennessee Titans offense that ranked 27th (19.4) in scoring and 23rd in yards per play (5.3) got a much-needed boost with Ole Miss wide receiver A.J. Brown at the 51st overall pick.
Brown, the Rebels career leader in receiving yards (2,984), also tallied the most 100-yard receiving yards in school history (12) during his time in Oxford. He is the only player at his position to accumulate 60+ receptions in back-to-back seasons for that program. In Nashville, Brown immediately improves a now-crowded Tennessee receiver room.
“Spent quite a bit of time with A.J.,” said GM Jon Robinson Friday night. “Really productive in a strong football conference. Has played a couple different positions, has played outside receiver, has played inside receiver. He’s got good size, he’s got strong hands, good route runner, he’s got good play speed. Really felt like he fit kind of what we were looking for in a player.”
But who could be the odd man out?
Not including Brown, the Titans have six wide receivers that appeared on the active roster in 2018: Cameron Batson, Corey Davis, free agent acquisition Adam Humphries, Darius Jennings, Tajae Sharpe and Taywan Taylor. The well-documented injuries that derailed quarterback Marcus Mariota and the team’s 29th ranked passing game aside, Tennessee’s receivers struggled early on with drops. The consistency improved over the course of the campaign but Brown’s presence bodes ill for Sharpe’s future with the team most of all.
Sharpe played in 14 games last season, accruing 26 catches on 47 targets for 316 yards and two scores. The former fifth-round pick out of UMass showed out in a 20-19 loss in London to the Chargers with 101 yards on seven catches but caught only 10 more balls over the remainder of the season. His receiving total was good for fourth most on his team but the offense still languished due to both player health and inconsistency.
Sharpe, 24, is in the last year of his rookie contract and would cost a mere $68,721 (per spotrac.com) to release if the team decides to send Batson back to the practice squad while he still has eligibility and keep Jennings on in his role as one of the best kick returners in the league.
Robinson and coach Mike Vrabel both seemed surprised that a player of Brown’s caliber was available to them at No. 51 overall and improved their team because of it. With improved depth, though, signs point to Sharpe as the most likely candidate to end up on the outside looking in.