Can the Titans get over the loss of AJ Brown?
The Titans made arguably the most shocking move of the 2022 NFL Draft when they traded star receiver AJ Brown to the Philadelphia Eagles.
Brown was a force for the Titans during his three seasons in Nashville, where he became a major impact player and one of the best young receivers in the NFL.
But Brown’s time in Tennessee was not without its problems. He has been regularly injured over the past two seasons, causing him to miss seven games and leave several more early. In fact, that’s why the Titans didn’t break the bank to keep him.
While the Titans will no doubt miss Brown’s breakthrough plays and overall talent, his raw output isn’t exactly irreplaceable.
Granted, Brown’s production over the past couple of years is the result of injury, but that has to be taken into account because no matter how good a player is, that talent doesn’t do the team any good when said player is set aside. Not to mention, the Titans still managed to win 12 games without a full season from Brown.
Now, that’s not at all to denigrate Brown’s talent; he will be greatly missed, especially with his ability to put the team on his back. But it’s not like the Titans have a perennial 1,500-yard receiver to replace here.
Looking ahead to 2022, the Titans have completely revamped their receiving corps, as Nick Westbrook-Ikhine is the only returning member to have had any semblance of an impact in 2021.
New additions include Robert Woods and draft picks Treylon Burks and Kyle Philips, all of whom have concerns.
It’s unclear what the Titans will get out of Burks and Philips, as rookies are highly unpredictable, and Woods is coming off a torn ACL and may not be a freshman himself (see: Bud Dupree).
The good news is that Woods, Burks and Philips all looked good during camp and preseason. Woods shows no ill effects from his torn ACL, Philips proved to be tough coverage in practice, and Burks finished the preseason strong with three catches for 33 yards and a score.
Apart from the aforementioned concerns, another thing to worry about is the lack of reps that the starting roster gathered during the pre-season. While Woods, Burks and Philips all saw snaps, none of them came with Tannehill, who didn’t play at all during the exhibition slate.
Burks is the biggest wild card to watch out for in this group. A hopeful long-term replacement for Brown, Burks’ skill set mirrors that of his predecessor and he’s capable of making the kind of impact Brown had in year one.
However, as we’ve said before, rookie receivers are very difficult to predict, and there’s a chance he’ll be let go to start the season. If so, Burks will likely start as the No. 3 option behind Woods and Westbrook-Ikhine.
Woods will likely be the No. 1 option in the passing game, but Burks will bite his heels. We also shouldn’t forget Philips, who showed great chemistry with Tannehill and is very capable of making noise in his rookie season.