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Treylon Burks Bears Mock Draft
Tennessee Titans

Should Titans ‘Force Feed’ Targets to Treylon Burks?

  • Justin Melo
  • May 3, 2022
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The Tennessee Titans experienced a wild 2022 NFL Draft. General Manager Jon Robinson sent shockwaves around the league when he traded disgruntled superstar wide receiver A.J. Brown to the Philadelphia Eagles in exchange for the 18th overall selection on Thursday night. Robinson then essentially replaced Brown by drafting former Arkansas wide receiver Treylon Burks with that very same selection. It’s the fallout of a contract dispute-related situation that completely revamps, retools, and hinders Tennessee’s crop of pass-catchers. 

Given the current lack of proven talent and depth the room possesses, the Titans may force-feed Burks the ball throughout his rookie campaign, but the team should be careful to avoid placing too much on his plate too early. There’s a scenario where the Titans extensively work Burks into their game plan without overwhelming him in September, and it qualifies as the most likely outcome.

Luckily for Burks and the Titans, Tennessee’s scheme and overall system lend favorably to getting Burks involved early and often without placing a copious amount of stress on his shoulders. Burks is expected to command an abundance of targets as the team’s “X” receiver in 2022, and the Titans will continue to utilize play-action to their advantage. 

Burks is largely expected to run the rather simple glance-and-over routes Brown often did so much damage with after the catch off play-action. It’s an excellent fit for Burks, who routinely showcased his strong after-catch abilities at Arkansas while dominating SEC competition. 

Arkansas often lined up Burks in the backfield as well while prioritizing getting the ball in his hands on underneath routes that allowed him to shine post-catch. We’d expect Tennessee to consider getting Burks the ball near the line of scrimmage on a rather consistent basis, too. It will be interesting to monitor what impact new Titans Passing Game Coordinator Tim Kelly has on Tennessee’s offense and passing attack, but it would qualify as rather shocking if offensive coordinator Todd Downing deviated from the run-heavy and play-action approaches they’ve built their offensive identity upon even prior to Downing’s appointment.

Swapping Burks for Brown isn’t the only change Tennessee’s receiver position has experienced this offseason. The Titans released veteran, Canton-bound receiver Julio Jones following a lone campaign in Nashville that was often plagued by recurring hamstring injuries. The Titans have also decided against re-signing unrestricted free agent Chester Rogers thus far, who led the team in routes ran from the slot last season. 

Nick Westbrook-Ikhine returns as Tennessee’s most recognizable pass-catcher, but the former undrafted free agent out of Indiana is hardly considered a world-beater. Westbrook took a step forward last season by totaling 38 receptions for 476 receiving yards and four touchdowns in 16 regular-season appearances and could take another minor step forward in an expanded role in 2022. Starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill trusts Westbrook, and perhaps more importantly, is familiar with him.

The real wild card that should and/or could impact Burks’ rookie workload is veteran receiver Robert Woods, who the Titans wisely acquired from the Los Angeles Rams earlier this offseason in exchange for a 2023 sixth-round selection. Brown’s departure means the Titans are especially counting on Woods to be productive straight out the gate. It’s a situation worth monitoring given that Woods suffered a season-ending ACL injury as a member of the Rams in November. ACL injuries aren’t the career-enders they used to be, but it does sometimes take a player a full year to regain full effectiveness. The Titans witnessed this first-hand last year with Taylor Lewan and Bud Dupree, whose ceilings were both capped by ACL injuries of their own suffered the previous season. 

Should Woods suffer a similar fate, it could place even more responsibility on Burks. The Titans also signed Austin Hooper in free agency. The dual-threat tight end is fully capable of catching 50-plus balls in an offense, having previously done so twice as a focal point of Atlanta’s passing attack in 2018 and 2019. The Titans lacked production from the tight end position a year ago, and Hooper should be a big part of their attack going forward.

Burks is certainly entering the pro ranks in an ideal situation from a depth, workload, and system fit perspective. Should Woods struggle with health while failing to regain his typical form, Burks could see 100-plus targets thrown his way as a rookie in 2022.

Written By

Justin Melo