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Can A Slot Receiver Do Enough to Warrant First-Round Selection?

Ole Miss' Elijah Moore has the endorsement of one prominent Tennessee Titans player.
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Jon Robinson does not ask for a lot from his wide receivers. In fact, the Tennessee Titans general manger wants just three things – regardless of where those players are lined up.

“At the end of the day, at the receiver position, it’s get open, catch and block,” Robinson said this week. “Those are the three most important things for the receiver position.

“There are certainly some inside and some slot receivers that fit that bill this year.”

With the 2021 NFL Draft at hand, the Titans don’t have a proven slot receiver on the roster. Adam Humphries was a victim of offseason cuts. Marcus Johnson, Chester Rogers, Rashad Davis and Cody Hollister all have some experience in the role but none spent much – if any – time on the active roster last season.

Robinson could address one of several positional needs with his first-round pick, No. 22 overall. One possibility is to get one of those “inside or slot receivers,” Elijah Moore out of Ole Miss.

Moore ran a 4.35 40-yard dash on his pro day. He is speedy and small and utilizes those attributes to his advantage. And in his junior year at Ole Miss, he hauled in 86 receptions for 1,257 yards, and eight touchdowns in eight games played.

He’s drawn comparisons to receivers such as Ted Ginn Jr., DeSean Jackson and Tyler Lockett according to Pro Football Focus. And’s own Lance Zierlein drew a comparison to Antonio Brown on Moore’s prospect profile.

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Newcomer Has Been There, Done That

Moore’s talent is clear. Yet, what isn’t is his draft projection. Some have Moore going early second round, while other draft analysts having him as a first-round selection.

It all comes down to when one team believes he is too good to pass up.

There is at least one person among the Titans who would hate to see Moore end up with another team. That is wide receiver A.J. Brown, who has topped 1,000 receiving yards in each of his first two seasons, made his first Pro Bowl in 2020 and also happens to be an Ole Miss product in his own right.

In a post of pictures from Moore’s pro day at Ole Miss, Brown quote tweeted the photos saying, “as expected, @titans don’t mess this up.”

For Brown, the decision is made, it seems. But Robinson needs to see more than just the basics if he is to pick a slot receiver that early.

“You have to define the role for a player,” Robinson said. “To what degree can he play on the outside? Does he give you anything in the kicking game as a returner? How does he change the game? is it a speed component, is it a get open component? ... With slot receivers, there are some speed slots and then there are some shifty make you miss guys. The guys that can do both will have more value.”

For what it’s worth, Moore ran the ball 21 times for 71 yards, averaged 4.9 yards on 27 punt returns and 18.5 yards on 12 kickoff returns during his college career.

Is that enough to make him the Titans’ first-round pick?