Tennessee Titans wide receiver Kendall Wright denied Friday he was disappointed when the franchise selected former University of Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota with the second overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft last month. Wright clarified his feelings after a viral video appeared to show his and fellow Titans wide receiver Justin Hunter’s negative reactions to Mariota’s selection.
“I have no reason to be upset,” Wright told the Tennessean. “Me personally, I have nothing against Marcus Mariota. I have nothing against the pick. Period. My reaction was like that because to me, it was like someone like Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin getting picked. You knew who it was going to be, so there was nothing to get excited about.”
Wright and Hunter attended the Titans’ draft night party at LP Field in Nashville on April 30 and were caught on film when NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced Tennessee had drafted Mariota. Wright appeared to shake his head in disappointment, while Hunter dropped into a nearby seat. The video generated widespread speculation that Wright and Hunter did not want Mariota as their new quarterback.
Hunter abruptly sat down after the announcement because he had just lost a $200 bet, Wright said. Hunter bet the Titans would trade out of the No. 2 spot, while Wright bet the Titans would draft Mariota. The pair has no animosity toward Mariota, he added.
“I am definitely giving Marcus Mariota a chance,” Wright said. “They didn’t bring him in as the No. 2 pick for him to sit down and not play. He’s going to have to come in and be ready to play right away, and I’ll do everything I can to help him look good. Why would I not like a guy who potentially could be throwing me the ball?”
Prior to draft night, it was expected that Zach Mettenberger, a second-year quarterback and the Titans’ sixth-round draft pick in 2014, would be the team’s starting quarterback. Titans head coach Ken Whisenhunt has since confirmed that Mariota will likely be the starter for the team’s season opener.
But don’t expect Mettenberger to accept a backup role so easily. Titans offensive tackle Taylor Lewan, described as Mettenberger's closest friend in the locker room, said the quarterback will still compete with Mariota for the starting job.
“That is the mentality that Zach has. He thinks of himself as a starter, and the guys in the locker room do also. I don’t think he is going to give it up easily,” Lewan told the Tennessean Monday.