For all of his physical gifts, Justin Hunter 's rookie season in Tennessee was pretty much a bust. Drops, mental lapses and a lack of intensity led to both teammates and coaches getting into Hunter's ear aggressively.
How important is he this season? According to wide receivers coach Shawn Jefferson, Hunter could be the key to the Titans playing into January.
"He can be the receiver that puts us in the playoffs, and helps us win our division," Jefferson said of Hunter to The Tennessean. "With the growth he is going to go through, if he can keep progressing he can be the receiver that puts us over the edge. He has that much potential. He has great ability, and has gotten bigger. But keep in mind this is just his second season in the league and he is learning his second offense. He is coming on, but he has to keep working. I like the course he is on."
That sounds nice, especially coming from perhaps Hunter's harshest critic last year. But before we put too much weight into Jefferson's words, keep in mind that he basically painted a rosy picture of every player he talked about during this interview. Jefferson called Nate Washington "a stud" who has "been making plays out here since day one." And while that second part might be true, I'm not buying shares of Washington in fantasy any time soon.
Hunter has the physical tools to be a great receiver in this league, and hopefully he'll continue to do the things that make him deserving of such praise. He had a couple of games last year in which it looked like the light turned on, but he followed them with clunkers. Hunter was scratched one week after a 114-yard outing due to a violation of team rules. He has plenty of dynasty-league significance, but I can't endorse the Titans' flawed No. 3 wide receiver to the re-drafters. Hunter remains a very raw talent.