A new hope: A.J. Brown the next WR the Titans pray they can develop

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A.J. Brown looks the part and the Titans’ selection at No. 51 fills a big need at wide receiver, a spot where the team’s struggled for its entire existence in Tennessee.

He figures to start opposite Corey Davis in base, with Adam Humphries joining them in the slot when the Titans go three-wide, probably (hopefully?) more often than they have in the past.AJBrown2

(Photo courtesy Ole Miss athletics.)

Brown ran a 4.49 and the Titans say he’s 6-foot-1 and 230 pounds. [Unlocked]

The big question is how quickly he will be comfortable working more outside. Because at Ole Miss, where he put up some outstanding numbers, he worked primarily inside.

“At Ole Miss I was a slot guy, because D.K. (Metcalf) got hurt,” he said. “I could do both, I can play inside and outside. It wasn’t a problem. I can run any route. It was based on getting all the best people on the field at the same time. At the next level, I’m trying to be able to be versatile, play inside and outside, whatever Tennessee needs.”

Wrote Dane Brugler, the excellent draft analyst at The Athletic:

“Brown feasted on slants, crossers and shallow patterns in the Ole Miss offense and his tape feels like an unfinished jigsaw puzzle, missing a worthy sample size of downfield and outside-the-number routes. However, his athletic gifts at his size, along with his college production and ingrained work ethic, compare favorably to JuJu Smith-Schuster when he was a college prospect. Overall, Brown is a very natural route runner and pass catcher with the athletic profile and competitive character that make it easy to bet on his upside as an NFL starter.”

It's hard not to be excited about that last part.

“My versatility (lets me) do a little bit of everything really,” Brown said. “I’m not going to blow the roof off, but I can run by some guys, (I've got) good technique and stuff. I do a little bit of everything.”

“I’ve got to come in and build that trust with (Marcus Mariota), he’s going to get a complete receiver. Anything he needs I’m going to be there.”

It’s a new and exciting day for the Titans, who were in dire need of another weapon for Mariota.

But it’s always got to be dulled by at least a tinge of the team’s history of failure at developing wide receivers, no matter who the head coach, the coordinator or the receiver coach has been.

And even if this is the group to develop one, and this is the guy to be developed, take heed that Mike Vrabel recently spoke of the slow transition to be expected for a receiver from college to the NFL.

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