The NFL offseason produced a lot of wide receiver movement, highlighted by the Green Bay Packers trading DeVante Adams to Las Vegas, the Kansas City Chiefs sending Tyreek Hill to Miami and the Tennessee Titans pulling off a draft night shocker, trading AJ Brown to Philadelphia.
Each of those teams then used high draft picks to add younger, more affordable talent to their wide receiver rooms.
Here’s how each team approached part of the puzzle of replacing the seemingly irreplaceable veteran talent who now play for new organizations in 2022.
CHIEFS WR SKYY MOORE – 2nd Round, 54th overall – Western Michigan
There are certain players who automatically receive the benefit of the doubt based on the team that drafts them. For instance, I admit it didn’t matter which quarterback San Francisco drafted with the third pick last year. No matter who they selected, I was going to feel comfortable knowing they would be coached by Kyle Shannahan and be a part of the Niners offense.
The same applies in Kansas City, where we all expected Brett Veach and Andy Reid would select a wide receiver with a skillset similar to that of Tyreek Hill, who they traded to Miami this offseason. Enter Skyy Moore, a player built for the Kansas City offense, who has been handed a playbook that should be a perfect fit for his skillset (especially with Patrick Mahomes at QB). Even crazier, he was the sixth receiver selected in the second round, and the Chiefs traded back four spots and still ended up with the opportunity to select him.
It sounds too good to be true, but the Chiefs tend to make their selections count. And they know when to draft positions of need. Just look at their re-tooled offensive line from a year ago.
Moore had 262 yards after contact in 2021. That’s tied for ninth in the FBS, per Pro Football Focus. He also forced 26 missed tackles, which was tied for the most in the FBS.
“I’ve figured out that you can’t really stop our playbook,” Moore told reporters at Chiefs rookie minicamp. “Everything about the plays, there’s a way to attack the defense in every type of play.”
It’s a new-look receiver room in KC. After Travis Kielce, Mecole Hardman is now joined by JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling, with Moore added to the mix. Based on his college performance at Western Michigan, he’ll be worked in heavily to their concepts.
PACKERS WR CHRISTIAN WATSON – 2nd Round, 34th overall – North Dakota St.
DeVante Adams is now with the Las Vegas Raiders, and while we watched the Packers once again address defense with two picks in the first round, Aaron Rodgers definitely knew he was getting a weapon early on Day 2 based on the way he discussed the team’s draft approach with Pat McAfee hours before Round 2 began in Nevada.
Two picks in, Rodgers had Watson added to the Packers’ offense. The former North Dakota State star became the highest draft pick at wide receiver for the franchise since 2002, and joined Adams, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and Greg Jennings as second-round selections.
Watson is a big, versatile, fast receiver who is the definition of what a team looks for when they draft on traits. Within the Matt Lafleur (Aaron Rodgers) offense, he’ll get the ball a ton — and can be used in multiple ways. He played in 52 games at North Dakota State, putting up over 3,200 all-purpose yards and scored 18 touchdowns. His 105 catches paired well with his 49 carries for nearly 400 yards, and he returned 26 kickoffs for 686 yards.
Watson hauled in chunk yardage on explosive plays. He had 57 touches that went for at least 20 yards. As a senior he had four plays of 65 yards or more, all touchdowns. When you consider that in each of his last three seasons he produced over 800 all-purpose yards, it’s hard not envisioning him having success in the NFL. Again, like Skyy Moore, he’s in a great situation to show out early and often.
My biggest concern with Watson throughout our draft preparation were his drops. Like you, I didn’t watch him play. I base this off of PFF, who noted he had 15 drops over four seasons on 180 targets. That’s an average of one dropped pass every 12 times he was targeted. That issue is magnified when you consider 11 of those 15 drops came on his final 106 targets. That’s a dropped pass every 8.8 targets. Not great.
But his traits are outstanding, and so is his NFL quarterback.
TITANS WR TREYLON BURKS – 1st Round, 18th pick – Arkansas
It’s hard not to love what Burks produced on the field in the SEC. He’s a big, strong, physical receiver with big play ability and top speed when the pads are on. I knew the Titans liked him, and we discussed on OutKick 360 about the possibility of pairing him with AJ Brown. I just didn’t think he’d be drafted as part of a trade to ship AJ out of town.
The Titans are betting on the rookie from Arkansas to produce immediately, just as Brown did for them throughout his rookie season of 2019 and his second year in 2020. The Titans have had a ton of success on first and second down in recent seasons off of the play-action pass. I expect Burks to get plenty of opportunities early and often.
And make no mistake — no matter what the team says publicly about Burks not being the “replacement” for Brown, he will be compared to what Brown does in Philadelphia. And that’s fair. But, for me, it’s more about what Brown meant to the team in Nashville more than what he does for the Eagles.
Brown did more than catch the football and become the top passing weapon in Nashville. He embodied a gritty mentality and stepped up in the clutch the way few others have in recent years. Not just catches, but monster plays that either scored or set up scores in crucial moments of the season.
Since Brown entered the league in 2019, only Mike Williams and Stefan Diggs have more receptions totaling 39 yards or more. Brown had 16 such plays, 8 of which went for touchdowns. Most of those receptions were air-yard plays, too, making them more difficult to replace by inserting a new player. The one-handed and sure-handed catches that coincide with the top plays list of this Titans’ regime will be the bar their new talent must reach.
Burks is capable of being a big-time producer in the Titans’ offense because he fits the physical mold they’ve built around the run game. He’s about effort and finish, two traits Mike Vrabel covets with any player on the roster. If Burks can be the reliable, big-moment playmaker, the Titans will come out on top in this trade.
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