The Tennessee Titans pulled off a quick second-round trade, acquiring the second pick of the round (No. 34 overall) from the San Francisco 49ers and grabbing University of Tennessee wide receiver Justin Hunter.
The Titans had a first-round grade on Hunter, who was far and away the highest rated player remaining on their draft board as the day began. While there was some lobbying Thursday night for a trade back into round one for Hunter, the groundwork was laid by general manager Ruston Webster to pull of the trade with the 49ers after Hunter passed through the first round unpicked.
“I think for us, he was on a different level for us grade-wise than the rest of the players on the board,” Webster said. “It was not even really close. With him sitting there, we saw it as a great opportunity for us to get a talented young receiver with a lot of upside.”
Hunter was part of an explosive offense with the Volunteers, as he caught 106 passes for 1,812 yards and 18 touchdowns in his three seasons in Knoxville.
In exchange for the right to move up, the Titans gave the 49ers their own second-rounder (No. 40), as well as a seventh-rounder (No. 216) and a third-round choice next year.
He stands 6-4 and weighs just 195, but ran a 4.37 time in the 40-yard dash and has the ability to give Tennessee another vertical threat to go with and/or fill in for Kenny Britt, whose career has been plagued by injuries.
“I can stretch the field, that's my best asset. I'm gonna push the other players, just like they're gonna push me, so we're gonna get a lot out of it,” Hunter said.
Like Britt, Hunter overcame a torn ACL in the 2011 season, returning to catch 73 passes for 1,083 yards and nine scores for the Vols in 2012.
“That's part of he advantage of having someone like him. When we talked about it last night when the draft ended who was left on the board and how this would fit and how he could help our roster,” Titans coach Mike Munchak said. “There's no doubt playing the outside receiver, the Z and the X, he can help us quite a bit as an outside receiver.”
The Titans had been expected to lean heavy toward the defensive side of the ball, but thus far, Tennessee has chosen two offensive players in the draft with guard Chance Warmack yesterday and now Hunter.
“He was a target for us. He's got special size, speed and athletic ability,” Webster said of Hunter. “I don't think he's reached his ceiling yet. He was a great option for us there, really the best option we had.”
The move to obtain Hunter certainly strengthens the Titans receiving corps and builds the roster for the future, with Britt and Nate Washington both in contract years. As for how Hunter works into the mix now, offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said it will create more competition.
“It means everyone is going to compete. It means we're filling that room with as much competition and as much talent as we can,” Loggains said.
As for drafting defense now, Webster said, “I think those middle rounds can be good to us that way.”