Draft Week is upon us.
Tennessee Titans General Manager Jon Robinson and Head Coach Mike Vrabel took questions from the media on Monday about the upcoming 2018 NFL Draft, which of course kicks off Thursday night in Dallas.
Robinson performed his typical “say nothing using as many words as possible” routine, but he did drop a few useful tidbits and hints concerning what we might see later this week.
On Evaluating Prospects with his Staff
When asked about the evaluating prospects, Robinson was sure to note how inclusive their process is, mentioning that he sits down together with Vrabel, the coordinators, and the position coaches so that they can “merge” their position specifics and critical factors for potential draft prospects.
.@Titans GM Jon Robinson said he's watched film with HC Mike Vrabel. The two have been on the same page on a lot of draft eligible players, Robinson said— Jim Wyatt (@jwyattsports) April 23, 2018
Robinson said they didn’t “shuffle the board” by much, but that some guys moved around after their conversations.
Mike Vrabel answered a question later about the most important thing to learn about a prospect. He said for him, loving football is above everything else.
Vrabel: Primary question is, do they love ball? 'To me, culture is what your team looks like at it's worst, not at its best." #Titans— Paul Kuharsky (@PaulKuharskyNFL) April 23, 2018
We’ve heard that echoed from Jon Robinson before, as well.
On the Importance of Meeting with Players
PK pressed Robinson a bit on the importance of Top 30 visits, and on player visits and meetings with players in general. Robinson explained that the visits can serve a variety of purposes; some are medical, some are to get clarification on questions they had about the player that arose at the combine or all-star games, some are to get more background info, and others are just to get to know the player better.
Robinson elaborated by explaining that the point of the Top 30 visits is to find out if certain players fit their culture and their football team. If so, he said, they remain on the board.
The biggest hint revealed here was, upon further questioning from PK, when Robinson said that he would not consider all the players they’ve met with to be “viable picks for the team.”
On the Possibility of Trading Draft Picks
Not sure if this quite counts as “breaking news,” but Robinson spoke about his expectations in regards to potential trades near the top of the draft. This could be based on things he’s seeing, hearing, or just his own speculation...
.@Titans GM Jon Robinson said he expects a lot of movement early in the NFL Draft— Jim Wyatt (@jwyattsports) April 23, 2018
Jim Wyatt asked Robinson if he is okay with his six draft picks. The response was expected.
.@Titans GM Jon Robinson shakes his head when asked if he's OK with six draft picks. Said the team could bail at No.25 in right situation— Jim Wyatt (@jwyattsports) April 23, 2018
Not sure if this means anything or if it’s just “media-speak,” but as we get closer and closer to draft day, my expectations for a trade out no. 25 continue to increase.
Robinson was asked if he’ll be the one on the phones or if he’ll be sitting back and fielding calls. His answer? A little bit of both.
Robinson regarding trade mechanics: When we are on the clock it'll be fielding the calls. Up until then, it'll be initiating the calls. #Titans— Paul Kuharsky (@PaulKuharskyNFL) April 23, 2018
Robinson talked a bit about where they could find “value” in this draft. He mentioned the mid-rounds. It seems likely to me that Robinson will try his best to acquire more picks in this range.
Robinson: There are going to be 32 guys taken in the first round, whether there are quote, unquote 32 guys with first-round grades or not. There is some value in the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and even 5th rounds. Guys who will contribute.— Terry McCormick (@terrymc13) April 23, 2018
On This Week’s Rumors and Reports
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but we are now in the deepest throes of “lying season.” The credibility of reports coming out this week is near zero.
Robinson on stuff that comes out this week around the league: "Mostly wildly untrue." A lot of smoke and mirrors and smokescreens that are thrown around. #Titans— Paul Kuharsky (@PaulKuharskyNFL) April 23, 2018
Robinson is likely hosting his own “smoke and mirrors” party, as the Titans are reported to be one of the tighter-lipped franchises since Jon Robinson took over.
Every fanbase in the league thinks their front office is "tight lipped" and "we dont have any leaks"— Benjamin Allbright (@AllbrightNFL) April 18, 2018
I can assure you most of them are a running faucet.
Props to the Titans though, who are the toughest in my experience to crack.
Which means you probably won’t hear much, if anything, about the Titans that is actually true. Remember when OJ Howard, Marshon Lattimore and Mike Williams were the favorites for the Titans at pick no. 5 overall based on “rumors”?
As for most teams being a “running faucet” - sometimes those faucets are running on purpose, with intentional misinformation pouring out.
And just as an aside, for what it’s worth, WalterFootball is thought to be one of the least credible sites when it comes to rumors and “sources.”
Knowing who to believe is very difficult, so I tend to lean towards believing nothing that is reported within two weeks of the draft. That includes Monday morning’s allegations that teams are taking Josh Sweat off their draft boards due to concerns over his knee.
Another thing: while teams are obviously aware Sweat suffered a significant knee injury years ago, I'm not aware of any that have taken him off their board due to it. His medicals have been passed by every team I'm aware of that has had interest in him.— Jon Ledyard (@LedyardNFLDraft) April 24, 2018
I will say that sometimes, the rumors about the very early picks can provide some insight. It was widely reported that the Bucs would go with Winston and that the Rams would take Goff with their respective first picks. Last year, we knew Myles Garrett was going to be the first overall selection.
This year, it seems like Josh Allen or Sam Darnold could be the top guy. It sounds a lot like the Jets love Baker Mayfield and that the Giants love Saquon Barkley. Many teams are rumored to be in the trade-up-for-a-quarterback market.
It will be interesting to see which of those reports, if any, hold true on draft night.
On the Status of the Depth Chart
Vrabel was asked if the team has created a depth chart for the team’s OTAs, and if they have one going into the draft.
Vrabel said they need something on paper just to coordinate practice and know how many bodies they’ll need for drills and such.
#Titans coach Mike Vrabel says he will have some sort of depth chart put together this afternoon.— Terry McCormick (@terrymc13) April 23, 2018
As usual, we have to read between the lines to glean any amount of actual information. The biggest things that stood out to me were:
- Robinson is expecting trades to happen at the top of the draft
- The Top 30 visits are important but not crucial
- Robinson wants to acquire more draft picks
Again, not groundbreaking information, but nice to know as the draft approaches...
Watch the full 25-minute press conference HERE.