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|Veteran receiver Torry Holt could still be a valuable contributor on game day and as a mentor for the right team.|
Posted by Scouts Inc.'s Matt Williamson
It wasn't long ago that Torry Holt ranked among the NFL's top receivers. I'll admit he was not playing under the best of conditions last season with the St. Louis Rams. Still, Holt just isn't what he used to be.
But as free agent Holt tours the league, questions remain: Can he still help? Does he fit in with the Tennessee Titans or Jacksonville Jaguars, teams that are very lean at receiver?
A seven-time Pro Bowl selection who ranks 11th on the league's all-time reception list with 869 catches, Holt has visited each team. Of the two, Tennessee probably is the more attractive option. The Titans are in a better position to immediately win. However -- and I am aware of what Kerry Collins did a year ago -- their quarterback situation is still somewhat tenuous. But the Titans have an exceptional offensive line that excels in both run blocking and pass protection. In tight end Bo Scaife, the Titans have a target who would take some defensive attention away from Holt.
Holt isn't equipped to play the role of a true No. 1 wideout who demands extra game planning from opposing defensive coordinators. I do believe that in optimal conditions, he could be a reliable chain moving target. A quarterback like Collins -- or Jacksonville's David Garrard for that matter -- would be very comfortable seeking Holt seven or eight times per game.
Another dimension that Holt would bring to either club would be his status as a mentor. This could be his greatest contribution to either of these franchises. The Titans signed Nate Washington, who is immensely talented, but also inconsistent and an overall work in progress. Justin Gage also continues to improve and is now a respectable starting option. Even if they sign Holt, the Titans might be wise to draft a receiver who also would benefit learning from the former Ram.
Jacksonville does not have a full receiving cupboard, either, but the Jags' Mike Walker very well could be the most promising wideout on either squad right now. He has had a tough time staying on the field, but has shown glimpses of greatness with a terrific all-around skill set.
Much like the Titans, the Jags would be wise to draft a top-flight wide receiver -- Michael Crabtree? -- even if they sign Holt. The Jags' work-in-progresses and incoming rookies all could learn their trade from a master like Holt, whose positional meeting room and practice influence would provide an exceptional example of how to be successful at this level.
In his prime, Holt was obviously very gifted, but he was also a supreme route-runner who made every route look the same. That comes with hard work and dedication to one's craft. He set up defensive backs extremely well by showing subtleties to his routes at opportune times and by varying speeds. Holt also was obviously someone who understood his opponents' strengths and weaknesses by scouting opposing cover men on film.
All of these traits -- and surely many others -- would be a very welcome to the young wide receivers on either the Titans or the Jaguars' squads. Holt would thrive as a complementary piece of either team's struggling passing game. Asking him to be the central piece right now might be asking too much.
Garrard desperately needs someone whom he can trust on the perimeter and surely Collins would not frown upon bringing in someone with Holt's pedigree.
Holt, who turns 33 in June, isn't what he once was. But he has missed only two games in his career, and has amassed more than 12,000 receiving yards in his 10 seasons with the Rams. Both the Titans and Jaguars could use him.Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for ESPN.com.