Draft night is here and the pressure is on Titans General Manager Jon Robinson.
Seriously, I think the Titans GM is under more pressure now than at any point since his first draft when h was handed the 1st overall pick.He has a team that with the right picks can contend to do big things, but he is also coming off of a disastrous 2020 draft and was forced to lose 6 starters due to the reduced salary cap.
Robinson was able to replace several starters in free agency, but he has to come up with 2 or 3 in this years draft and that is a lot when you consider last years draft produced ZERO for the Titans.
The good news for Robinson is thanks to a compensatory pick for Jack Conklin he heads into the draft with 9 picks, including 4 in the top 100. “Wish I had more than four but that’s what we’ve got.” Robinson said, “We’ll see what we can make out of that. Can we turn four into five, or maybe six? I think I’ve got some calls to put in this week around the league with other GMs just to kind of gauge their willingness to move around Thursday night and Friday night. We’ll see how those calls go this week. I think everybody kind of knows that we’re willing to kind of shuffle around.”
The other good news for Robinson and the Titans is there appears to be good depth at some of their positions of need like wide receiver, cornerback, offensive line and edge rusher. They certainly have players they like at 22, but there may be so many of them that it could be a very easy year to trade down, get more picks, and still get one of the guys they covet in round one.
It is a numbers game, the more top tier players the can get the better chance they have of more of them contributing this season.
In the past they have been able to be patient with draft picks, but they have major holes to fill. The Titans said goodbye to wide receivers Corey Davis and Adam Humphries and tight end Jonnu Smith this off-season. They combined for 129 catches for over 1400 yards and 15 touchdowns and they have replaced the three of them with only one player, wide receiver Josh Reynolds who joined the team on a one year deal. That means they need long term solutions and that means going wide receiver and tight end relatively early.
It also means those guys can not just sit around and get comfortable, they have to play this year and Robinson knows it, “I think as soon as those guys can contribute, certainly the sooner the better. We’ve had guys that maybe it’s been injuries, been some dings, some bumps and bruises… We want all of these guys, whether it’s the first-rounder, wherever they’re drafted, the quicker they can contribute and help the football team, the better.”
The dream scenario for Robinson and the Titans is when need matches the “best player” on the board. Robinson knows that unfortunately does not always happen, “You’re going to need good football players at some point. Just because we may not have a glaring need at a position doesn’t mean that we wouldn’t take a player there if we think that the impact that he could have on the team at some point this year. You can’t predict injuries. Knock on wood that we don’t have a bunch this year, but you just don’t know. Having good players that can go in the game and play at a winning level at any position is important.”
That could mean drafting a guard, a linebacker or even another quarterback at some point. When the Titans drafted Taylor Lewan they did not need a left tackle, but they got a Pro Bowl player. They also did not need a running back when they picked Derrick Henry and that one seems to have worked out.
The draft is an inexact science, every GM has hits and misses, Robinson struck out in 2020, he needs to knock 2021 out of the park.