4 – Delanie Walker
Putting Delanie Walker at four might rub some people the wrong way. Mainly because he plays for one of the worst teams in the NFL, the Tennessee Titans. Very true that they are a team that most fans are excited to watch their teams beat up on when it comes their teams turn to do so.
On the other hand, you have to respect a guy that can haul in 94 catches for 1,044 yards while adding six touchdowns on a team that could only muster three wins, had a rookie quarterback, struggling offensive line, no run game, and no other receivers to take the attention off of him.
Walker is one of the toughest gamers in the league and for his size is astonishingly difficult to tackle. Take that tenacity, add in his athleticism and blocking ability, you have a highly formidable tight end.
Walker spent most of his career in San Francisco playing behind Vernon Davis and only getting occasional chances to play. Tennessee saw the breakout potential in Walker and signed him to a four-year $17.5 million deal. What was once ridiculed as too big of a contract, is now being seen as a solid steal for the Titans.
In his first three years with the team as the full-time starter, Walker has improved his statistics in each of those.
First-year stats: 63 REC, 571 YDS, 6 TD.
Second-year: 63 REC, 890 YDS, 4 TD.
Third-year: 94 REC, 1,088 YDS, 6 TD.
Last year was a bit of a circus for the Titans as they drafted Marcus Mariota out of Oregon with the second overall pick and accustomed the offense to his style of play, fired head coach Ken Whisenhunt midway through the season, and injuries plagued the team for most of the season. Still, Walker found a way to be one of the lone bright spots for the team.
Tennessee accrued an assortment of picks, six through the first 76, and should be able to help shore up the roster and help the team and Walker out. New GM Jon Robinson has an eye for talent, as he was director of the college scouting for the New England Patriots from 2009-13, and prior to that was the regional scout and area scout (2002-09).
Delanie should continue to see his numbers rise again this year as the team is improving and the draft has the potential to help move along that improvement. Mariota and Walker have a noticeable chemistry which will only grow in their second year together.
Prediction: 90 Receptions – 1,105 Yards – 8 Touchdowns