The draft is just hours away.
The Titans will have a plethora of strategies to consider when they are on the clock at No. 25 this evening, and the most enticing option might be trading their selection away to move down in the draft and acquire more picks.
Of course, as they say, it takes two to tango. So which teams might be dance partners for the Titans tonight?
The Browns pick at 1, 4, 33, 35, 64, and 114. Recent rumors have the Browns interested in trading down from pick no. 4.
Hearing Browns will trade 4, but only when they are on the clock, not before the pick and they don't want to go down too far.— Michael Lombardi (@mlombardiNFL) April 26, 2018
If they did so, they would have even more capital to give Jon Robinson if a prospect they covet falls to 25. An offensive lineman, a cornerback, or (if they don’t get Saquon Barkley), perhaps they come up for Derrius Guice?
The Giants could also trade out of the top 5. They already have picks 34, 66, and 69. Some combination of those, and/or newly acquired picks, could be used to come up and select their quarterback of the future. Perhaps Lamar Jackson slips to 25, or maybe they come up for Mason Rudolph or Kyle Lauletta?
Yet another team rumored to be interested in moving down from their top pick (now no. 6 overall), the Colts have already acquired a vast amount of picks in their trade down from no. 3 with the New York Jets. The Colts own picks 6, 36, 37, 49, 67, and 104. I would rather see the Colts come up to 25 and reach for a prospect they “love,” like a raw defensive lineman or even a first-round running back, than see them make this many selections in the top three rounds.
I feel that there will be lots of trades in this draft, folks. The Broncos are yet another team with reported interest in moving out of the top 5 of the draft. If they select a QB in the first round, I don’t think they’ll be in the trade up market. But if they are looking to select a Mason Rudolph-type in the first round, they may come up to no. 25, using either their existing picks or ones they will acquire in a trade down tonight.
The Patriots are sitting at 31 and have a lot of rumored interest in Lamar Jackson. If he slips to 25, could New England pounce on their Jimmy Garoppolo replacement? Or maybe they would come up for a pass rusher?
I absolutely buy the Patriots and Saints interest in Lamar Jackson.— Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) April 26, 2018
I also buy neither team believes Jackson will be on the board when their clock starts.
Ben Roethlisberger almost retired in the offseason, and the guys behind him do not inspire much “franchise QB” confidence (Landry Jones, Josh Dobbs). They might look to beef up the roster in preparation for one last run at a title with Big Ben, but they may instead start planning for the future if they’ve fallen in love with one of these QBs. If the right guy falls, they might look to get to 25, especially if the Titans can dangle other teams’ interest in the pick as incentive. Moving to 28 would be a short way to go to get another pick or two.
The wildcards to me are those teams that are being projected to take a QB in the first round. Teams like Buffalo (picks 53, 56, 65) or Arizona (picks 47, 79) might not have enough 2nd and 3rd round draft assets to work out a trade with Tennessee, but if they pass on a QB in the first round, and Lamar Jackson is still sitting there at 25, anything is possible. I could see a scenario where Robinson trades down a bit further than expected, and then surprises by coming back up to get his guy.
Best Case Scenario?
The best case scenario for the Titans is that the NFL decision-makers absolutely falling in love with this group of quarterbacks. I’m talking 1979 NFL Draft levels of love. This could play out in one of two ways...
One, it could result in 5 QBs going in the top 10, which would increase the value of guys like Rudolph and Lauletta, who would suddenly find themselves among the best QBs available as soon as pick 11. By pick 25, teams could be anxious about them continuing to slide.
Conversely, if only three or four of those guys get taken really early (right now it seems like Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson are the most likely to slide), that could be even better for the Titans in terms of creating a bidding war for that no. 25 pick. But that would mean the supposed 5th-best QB in the draft has to be worth it to these teams.
Jon Robinson has not been shy about his willingness to trade down. That makes him a beacon for teams looking to be aggressive moving up. Hopefully, there are a lot of those teams.
However, it could also be a smokescreen. It’s not out of the question that the Titans actually look to trade up. And if too many teams are trying to trade back, it could depress the return on such a trade to the point where Robinson would rather just stick and pick.
I guess we’ll know for sure in a few short hours...