NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Titans waited through the second round of the NFL draft then continued stocking their receiving corps to give quarterback Marcus Mariota more targets.
They made a trade with the New England Patriots, moving up 11 spots to No. 72 overall to select wide receiver Taywan Taylor of Western Kentucky. Taylor becomes the Titans’ second receiver taken in this draft, joining fifth overall pick Corey Davis of Western Michigan.
General manager Jon Robinson turned to the team where he got his NFL start to make his first trade of this draft. Robinson worked 12 years for the Patriots before leaving for Tampa Bay. The Titans hired Robinson as their 13th general manager in January 2016.
The Titans swapped their first pick in the third round (No. 83 overall) and their lone fourth-round selection (No. 124) to move up in the third round. They also get the Patriots’ fourth-round pick at No. 200. Tennessee still holds the 100th pick overall and 36th in the third round.
After making the trade, the Titans used their second of three draft selections on Taylor. He broke his own school records as a senior last season, catching 98 passes for 1,730 yards and 17 touchdowns.
Robinson values proven production, and he got just that with the first wide receiver taken in the draft in Davis. He returned for his senior year to add weight and improve his ball-catching skills, and the 6-3, 215-pound receiver caught a career-high 97 passes for 1,500 yards with 19 touchdowns.
Taylor finished as the all-time leading receiver in Football Bowl Subdivision history with 5,285 yards and will be counted on to replace Kendall Wright, the last receiver Tennessee took in the first round now with Chicago.
Mariota turned in the third-highest passer rating in franchise history at 95.6, and he threw for 3,426 yards. But the Titans ranked 25th averaging 221.3 yards per game, and a better passing attack can help stretch the field for a pair of Pro Bowlers in running back DeMarco Murray and tight end Delanie Walker.
Cornerback Adoree Jackson, the 18th pick overall, is expected to compete to start at cornerback opposite veteran Logan Ryan, signed away from New England in March. Both moves are designed to help a defense that ranked 30th giving up 269.2 yards passing per game.
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