The 2017 wide receiver free agency class is deep. DeSean Jackson, Kenny Britt, Alshon Jeffery, Terrelle Pryor, Pierre Garçon, Kenny Stills, Robert Woods, Terrance Williams, and Cordarelle Patterson are some of the big names this class has to offer, so there’s plenty of toys for teams to choose from.
Kenny Britt is one of the bigger names. With the Los Angeles Rams likely to let him walk in free agency, teams such as the Redskins and Eagles have been connected to him since the offseason began as possible landing spots.
In the league since 2009 (with the Titans and Rams), Britt came off a career year in 2016. He caught 68 passes for 1,002 yards and 5 touchdowns, averaging 14.7 yards per reception. He was also the Rams’ first 1,000 yard receiver since legend Torry Holt in 2007.
These stats may not be anything to sneeze at, but this is not indicative of Britt’s quality of play. This more describes the offenses he was on and the quarterbacks he played with. Between Vince Young, Case Keenum, Kerry Collins, old Matt Hasselbeck, Jake Locker, Jared Goff, Austin Davis, Shaun Hill, and Nick Foles, none of these quarterbacks have given Britt a chance to thrive and put up blockbuster numbers.
That could change in 2017 with a different team. Not to say there’s anything wrong with the Rams keeping one of their actual skill players on a team lacking them, but teams in need of a WR would benefit from adding Britt to their rosters. Entering 29 years of age in September, Britt will be a benefit to a team looking to compete for several years for several different reasons.
First, Britt’s ball skills are really good. I won’t go into great detail on what’s happening in these GIFs because they’re all pretty similar, but Britt’s always been a really talented player. He has the ability to turn inaccurate throws into spectacular plays because of his natural grip on the ball.
All 3 of these GIFs are one handed catches in the same ballpark as Odell Beckham’s. The 3rd GIF is an accurate pass, but Britt’s concentration to haul in the pass is extremely impressive.
Next, Britt’s awareness and ability to adjust his route on the fly is exceptional. When going behind the scenes to look at a receiver, it’s important to note the design of the route as well as what the WR can do about it. The Rams offense is poorly coached, often doing nothing to help the QB or the WRs and instead trapping them in a claustrophobic offense.
Britt bails out the coordinator on each of these two plays. In the first GIF, #18 makes the defender adjacent to him run further than he should, allowing Britt to stop and have plenty of space for Case Keenum to throw him the ball. Because of the awareness and self created space, Britt is able to immediately adjust to YAC mode, making an ordinary play turn into a big gain.
In the 2nd GIF, Britt stops his route and sees an opening for his quarterback to throw him the ball to. His patience and awareness of the situation stand out, and he grabs the pass and uses his strength to pinball away from defenders and into the end zone for the touchdown.
Speaking of strength, that’s what’s up next. Britt’s size and frame are perhaps what stands out about him the most. At 6 ft 3 and 223 lb, Britt is a huge receiver with a big window to throw the ball to. He has some of the tools of a receiving tight end such as the ability to box out, so he’s a favorable target on 3rd down conversions.
In the first GIF, Britt’s frame is able to create space as he uses tight footwork to make an impressive touchdown catch. In the 2nd GIF, #18 boxes out Revis Island, allowing for the easy pass completion and the first down conversion.
(This particular trait is a must for WR needy teams. A big, efficient WR not only allows for big plays downfield and first down conversions, it also allows for a change in gameplan as teams with talented receivers will be able to get more opportunities because of the defense’s distractions to the big WR. Though, this is important regardless if you’re big or not, as DeSean Jackson’s impact in Washington will tell you. Teams have been so occupied with covering Jackson that it was only when the 2nd half of 2016 came out that his numbers exploded.)
With a team like Carolina is where Britt would fit perfectly, mainly because of his tendency to have big downfield plays and his frame.
Finally, Britt’s route running deserves more credit. Frame can only get you so far in the world of pass catching; you also need to refine the art of creating separation.
Fortunately, Britt does that and then some. The first GIF displays an excellent jab move to get open for the deep connection. The 2nd GIF shows off the double move for another deep connection, while the 3rd GIF shows Britt burning one of the best cornerbacks in the league in Richard Sherman. The pass is overthrown, but Britt does an outstanding job of creating separation and giving his quarterback a chance.
Further examining the art of separation, it’s important you have a laundry list of ways to create separation. Defenses will figure you out if you only have one way to separate, so widening your skill set in this particular area is key. Not to sound cliche, but Britt understands the approach and technique needed for each play. In the GIF above, Britt pulls off the stop and go technique, allowing him to get easy separation and provides his quarterback a nice open cushion to throw the ball to.
Kenny Britt is a really good wide receiver and the ideal free agency target. As previously stated, his pedestrian career numbers are an indication of the quality of the teams he’s played for. For a competitive team hungry for a wide receiver, he offers great ball skills, exceptional awareness, a consistent matchup winner, and diverse and refined route running.
Britt is acquainted with all the necessary tools for a great WR to thrive in the league. With an actual team, he can get the credit and huge numbers he has always deserved.
(Featured image via blacksportsonline.com)