There was some real skill position talent on that 2020 Louisville Cardinals team. The Tennessee Titans scooped some of it up when they traded up in the 4th round of the draft to pick Cardinals wide receiver Dez Fitzpatrick. The move was a surprise for a couple reasons. Namely, the Titans could’ve used a Day 1 impact guy at the receiver position. I don’t think any of us anticipated that they would wait until Round 4 to address the need. Also, they selected a guy that some scouts thought would be a 7th round-UDFA selection, while much more enticing big-play guys were on the board. So, what made ’em do it?
Watching Fitzpatrick’s game a bit, the dude looks like a 1:1 replacement for Corey Davis in his style of play. At 6’2″ 208 pounds, Fitzpatrick is a big receiver who plays the position with a physical demeanor, and isn’t afraid to get into traffic and block downfield. That blocking ability is part of what made Davis a solid member of the Titans receiving corps during his tenure here. I saw some analysts claiming Fitzpatrick is little more than a “deep ball guy,” and that’s not what I see at all. I would love to see what tape those guys were watching. The problem with highlights is they only show you the good stuff, but hey – that’s what most of you are here for anyway. Let’s roll the sizzle reel and I’ll address my concerns about Fitzpatrick later on.
There are plenty of reasons to be excited about this guy as a 4th round developmental prospect. Fitzpatrick possesses decent speed that doesn’t necessarily show because he is a long strider. He seems to get faster the deeper into his route that he gets. But, his real strength, as I would describe it, is that he’s a wrestler – watching his one-on-one reps at the Senior Bowl, he really fights to get separation, he commits to moving defensive backs loose as a relentless and violent juke guy – not particularly burst-y, but he’ll move so much that he’s eventually going to wear you down, and get your hips jacked up. He takes what corners give him and works through it to create separation. He’s fearless, with the size to high point a ball, and he’s good in contested catch situations. But, I come back to just how physical Fitzpatrick is – this is a dude who will lower his head to move the chains. He’s not afraid to throw a stiff-arm at someone, which is perfect for the physical tone the Titans want to set. He weaves through traffic and the open field unafraid to make contact, and if you account for an up tic in quarterback play, and his fit in this Titans offense, there’s certainly reason for optimism with this prospect. At the very least, it’s easy to see the vision behind the pick. But, like the Monty Rice pick, you can’t help but wonder if the Titans could’ve gotten Fitzpatrick later in the draft.
My concerns about Fitzpatrick projecting as WR2 for the Titans – he’s not an ‘initial burst’ kinda guy, and I think the Titans receiving corps needed a healthy does of pure electric speed. I don’t know that his play-making ability is going to be enough to draw coverage away from A.J. Brown. We saw him fight to get separation at the Senior Bowl, and while he created it, I can’t help but wonder if he’ll be able to separate enough in the NFL. He’s not a very slippery receiver either. This isn’t a knock on Dez Fitzpatrick, because I feel like he’s a solid value in the 4th round given the fit with this team, and I can definitely see the potential in this guy as a physical receiver that wears you down in man coverage. But, the Titans couldn’t afford a value prospect. They needed an instant play-maker in that offense. I still say the Titans should’ve made a couple more “what is” picks, and a couple less “what could be” picks.
More on Dez Fitzpatrick
- Dez Fitzpatrick Every Senior Bowl 1-on-1 Rep
- Dez Fitzpatrick (Louisville WR) vs Virginia Tech | Draft Breakdown (2020)
- What does ex-Louisville WR Dez Fitzpatrick give Tennessee Titans? ‘A complete receiver’
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Stoney Keeley is the Editor in Chief of The SoBros Network, and a Dogs Playing Poker on velvet connoisseur. He is a strong supporter of Team GSD and #BeBetter. “Big Natural” covers the Tennessee Titans, Nashville, and a whole wealth of nonsense. Follow on Twitter @StoneyKeeley