NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) —The Tennessee Titans understand they took a chance selecting wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham of Missouri in the second round of the NFL draft. Giving Marcus Mariota a big target on offense is a gamble they believe was worth taking.
Coming off a 2-14 season and their last playoff berth in 2008, the Titans have little to lose right now.
"It's a difficult decision to make, and it's one that weighs on me every time I make it," general manager Ruston Webster said Friday night. "But just trying to do the best thing for the team and the organization in general trying to win."
One the draft's most athletic prospects, the 6-foot-5, 237-pound receiver had two productive seasons at Missouri, earning second team All-SEC honors in 2013, when he led Missouri in receptions (59), yards (883) and touchdowns (12) in 14 starts.
He led the team with four receptions for 53 yards in the Cotton Bowl victory over Oklahoma State, and posted six catches for a season-high 144 yards and two touchdowns in the SEC Championship game against Auburn.
The Titans started Friday night with the first pick in the second round. They traded down seven spots to No. 40 to take Green-Beckham as the second receiver drafted in the round while picking up the No. 108 pick in the fourth round and No. 245 in the seventh in the deal.
A team that played seven offensive tackles last season also selected offensive tackle Jeremiah Poutasi of Utah at No. 66 in the third to help protect Mariota.
But it was the Green-Beckham that created the buzz.
Green-Beckham was dismissed from Missouri resulting from off-field issues after two years at the school. He enrolled at Oklahoma in 2014 only to have a waiver to play immediately dismissed by the NCAA — but he never played for the Sooners because of transfer rules.
Green-Beckham said he knows his off-field issues dropped him out of the first round. He insisted he has become a better person by surrounding himself with people who will protect him.
"I was a young guy in college having fun," Green-Beckham said. "I put that all in my past."
But this franchise passed up drafting Randy Moss back in 1998 because of concerns about his off the field issues, a decision that didn't hurt as the Titans reached their lone Super Bowl two seasons later.
The Titans believe they've done their homework, talking with his coaches at Missouri and Oklahoma. Coach Ken Whisenhunt said receivers coaches Shawn Jefferson and Jason Tucker have strong personalities and will be good for Green-Beckham.
Webster said he sees a hunger in the receiver to play the game after sitting out an entire season.
"Not having football has had an effect on him," Webster said. "He went to Oklahoma and handled himself well and stayed out of trouble, and he wasn't playing. He was just practicing. He was basically a scout team player. ... That was my impression that he understands that the probably made some mistakes and he wanted to continue to play football he had to do the right thing."
The Titans already have Kendall Wright, a first-round draft pick in 2012, and a 6-4 receiver in Justin Hunter, a second-round pick in 2013. They also signed Harry Douglas and Hakeem Nicks in free agency.
But they have a new quarterback in Mariota, the Heisman Trophy winner from Oregon, trying to juice up an offense that was one of the worst in the NFL last season. Tennessee ranked 29th in the league averaging 303.7 yards per game.
"I have a vision that we're going to have a great career," Green-Beckham said. "Me and Marcus Mariota are going to connect well. I mean he's going to have a big receiver like me, and he's not going to have to worry. I know I'm going to be able to help him out of a lot of things."
Titans Online looks at the collegiate career of WR Dorial Green-Beckham, taken in the second round (#40 overall) by the Titans. (AP Photos)