NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee Titans selected wide receiver Kendall Wright of Baylor with the No. 20 pick overall Thursday night, a player they expect to contribute in a big way in his rookie season.
Wright, a former standout athlete at Pittsburg High School, is just the fourth receiver taken by this franchise in the first round but the second in four years. Kenny Britt was their first-round pick in 2009, but he is coming off a torn right ACL and has missed games to injuries each of the past two seasons. Wright becomes an extra target for either Matt Hasselbeck or Jake Locker.
The Titans got career seasons out of receivers Nate Washington, Damian Williams and Lavelle Hawkins after Britt was sidelined last September despite no offseason to learn offensive coordinator Chris Palmer’s scheme.
But the 5-foot-10, 196-pound Wright caught 108 passes for 1,663 yards working with Robert Griffin III at Baylor last season, and he was timed at 4.46 seconds in the 40-yard dash. Wright played four seasons at Baylor and finished his career with 302 catches for 4,004 yards with 30 touchdowns.
He’s known for being able to get in and out of his breaks on pass routes, using his speed to race by cornerbacks.
Tennessee still needs help for a pass rush ranked next to last in 2011 with a measly 28 sacks. The Titans had plenty of choices at defensive end with Whitney Mercilus of Illinois, Courtney Upshaw of Alabama, Syracuse’s Chandler Jones and Nick Perry of Southern California still available.
The Titans did sign defensive end Kamerion Wimbley to a five-year deal and re-signed Dave Ball, and they also expect lots of improvement out of end Derrick Morgan with his first real offseason after being the 16th pick overall in 2010 only to tear his own ACL in his first month of his rookie season.
But the Titans also have worked to improve the offense going into coach Mike Munchak’s second season, signing five-time All Pro Steve Hutchison to play left guard in free agency.
The Titans also looked at receiver Stephen Hill of Georgia Tech along with Michael Floyd of Notre Dame. They visited with Wright and also sent their coaches to work out the Baylor receiver.