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Filani adds possession receiver skills to Titans WR corps

As a sixth-round draft pick, Joel Filani is not a guy who you would expect a lot out of. That territory is reserved for first-day draft selections.
From what I know about him, though, I like him and do have some high hopes for him. I must qualify that because I have an admitted bias that favors so-called “possession receivers.” I was fortunate enough to grow up watching Hall of Fame receiver Raymond Berry, a guy who had a reputation of not having the physical skills to play in the NFL. That was back in the 1960s, when players were neither as big, as fast or as athletic as they are today. All Berry could do was get open and catch any ball thrown his way, in a time when defensive backs were allowed to mug and maul receivers.
Fellow Hall of Famers Fred Biletnikoff and Steve Largent carried on the tradition and I always appreciated the way they were able to get the job done. They weren’t deep threats or guys that opposing defenses had to worry about, at least as far as getting burned on a bomb, but defenses did have to be aware of them on third down. They were Ken Stabler’s and Jim Zorn’s clutch go-to guys who kept getting open against double coverage to pick up first downs and keep the chains moving.
It’s absolutely unfair to Filani to be compared to three Hall of Fame receivers, and I don’t mean to imply that in the least.
The point is that I have a long-standing appreciation of possession receivers and Filani is a guy who, if you have to put a label on him, falls into that category.
Filani had 91 receptions for 1,300 yards and 13 touchdowns last year in Texas Tech’s pass-happy offense, which prompts the question, is he simply a product and beneficiary of a successful system? Time will tell.
In the meantime, I’m encouraged by his potential and look forward to what he might do to help Vince Young and the offense.
At 6′ 2″, 216 pounds, he’s a big, physical guy who ought to see playing time lined up out wide but who can also be productive in the slot going across the middle. The scouting report on him says he’s a good route runner with good hands who should be productive in the red zone.
Filani will have a lot of competition for a roster spot and playing time. The Titans have accumulated quite a few receivers, signing free agent Justin Gage this spring to join veterans Brandon Jones, Courtney Roby, Roydell Williams and Jonathan Orr. Add Filani and fellow draft selectees Paul Williams and Chris Davis to the list along with David Givens, who will probably not play after serious knee injuries last season.