Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

09 Jul 2013

Can Kenny Britt Become the Next Great Wideout?

Chase and Tom discuss Kenny Britt's future in Tennessee and preview the Titans season.

Posted by: Rivers McCown on 09 Jul 2013



by evenchunkiermonkey :: Tue, 07/09/2013 - 10:40pm

Let's stop using the word great with such a throw-away manner. Calvin Johnson is a great WR. Can Kenny Britt reach that plateau? No. Kenny is a good WR, certainly. He's tall and quick and doesn't drop many passes, so let's just say he's a solid player with an injury history who's career could end up like Javon Walker's if he isn't careful but could end up like Herman Moore's if he works hard and stays on the straight and narrow.

by RickD :: Wed, 07/10/2013 - 2:17am

I'm tempted to ask where the threshold for "great" should be. Obviously Megatron deserves the label, as does Larry Fitzgerald, but who else does?

In any case, perhaps a better question would be how you would rate his potential in comparison to other young WRs. What about Dez Bryant? AJ Green?

by evenchunkiermonkey :: Wed, 07/10/2013 - 7:18am

The threshold for greatness. Sounds like a motivational book on tape. (I'll give it the old college try, but I'm not going to say 'its this many yards and this many TDs.' because Jerry Rice set the bar so friggin' high that no one may ever clear it) A great wide reciever catches the ball with his hands, runs precise routes, employs subtlety when hand fighting a DB. He releases quickly and cleanly from the LOS, catches all the balls he should and some of the ones that no one else can. He runs the slant as well as the post, setting up the double move. He can compete for jump balls and catch or knock down most of them. He scrambles with his QB to turn a broken play into a big play. He is reliably among the leagues leading recievers during his prime and can still play effectively as he ages. He is elusive, overpowering or both when running after the catch. He does all this year in and year out for a decade or more. There are usually 4-8 great WRs coming into any given season. This paragraph likely clarifies nothing.

Recently retired great WRs for me would include Moss and Harrison. (T.O. is arguable on the numbers, but I don't care how you classify him as long as you don't deify McNabb while you demonize T.O..)

I'd add Andre Johnson, Reggie Wayne and Steve Smith as aging greats who are on the back side of their careers. The next 4-6 seasons will determine if or how soon they get into the hall of fame.

I think that Calvin Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald are the best WRs under 30, I would label them as great. Brandon Marshall and Roddy White as two guys in that same age bracket who I would have a hard time arguing against, but to me they lack finesse, relying more on a physical approach when covered tightly.
The guys in their age range I would say are good bit not great would include the likes of V. Jackson Welker and G. Jennings.

Up and comers for me would include Demaryius Thomas, Julio Jones, Randall Cobb, Green and probably 5-6 more. These guys have the potential for greatness, but declaring anyone with fewer than 5 seasons of work great is IMHO jumping the gun. They're young and exciting but they could blow a knee or suffer a spine injury and be out of football in 2 years and all we'd remember is what could have been (see Sharpe, Sterling)

As far as comparing Britt to his contemporaries-
To me Britt's ceiling is nowhere close to AJ Greens. Maybe thats just my perception being clouded by his supporting QB play. Maybe its a lack of primetime exposure in Tennessee.
Comparing Britt to Dez Bryant would be apt in regards to their questionable judgement. If I needed one of the two to compete for a jump ball on a go route it would be Britt. If I needed 4 yards on a slant (and maybe some healthy YAC) I'd dial up Bryants number. As far as potential goes, Bryant has more, but of the two Bryant seems more likely to waste it. As far as physical gifts go they both have ideal height, but Bryant is the more solidly built of the two and seems more effective in tight spaces.

by thendcomes :: Wed, 07/10/2013 - 5:12pm

This was an amazingly thoughtful and thorough reply. Well done.

by corrections (not verified) :: Thu, 07/11/2013 - 12:11am

I liked this generally especially your specific examples but based on your initial description not one receiver who ever lived was a great receiver.

by Guido Merkens :: Wed, 07/10/2013 - 10:51am

I'm not so sure that Britt is a lock to leave in free agency after this season. If he has a good season - say, 70 catches and 1000 yards - and stays out of off-field trouble, it would be bold of them to cut bait and roll with Wright and Hunter.

Plus, the authors seem to assume that Britt will get a significant offer in free agency, and I'm not so sure that is the case. If he blows up next season, he might get a Laurent Robinson-level offer, but the Titans aren't in awful shape cap-wise and should be able to match it.

by Tom Gower :: Wed, 07/10/2013 - 3:59pm

We'll see what 2014 ends up looking like. Based on current 2014 commitments, they'd be over an unadjusted cap of $125-125.5 million (my guess based on a reasonably consistent rate of growth after 120.375, 120.6, and 123). In that world, even the $2.5 million DHB got from the Colts would be too much to match. Rollover and releases (Griffin, CJ, Washington, Wimbley?) may give them some operating room.

by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Wed, 07/10/2013 - 11:40am

Can he? I suppose there's no law against it. But my money's on no.