OK... you’re Jon Robinson. It’s 12:17 AM Central Time, technically Friday morning, but you’re just now going on the clock due to a long delay early in the draft caused by Dave Gettleman accidentally downloading a virus while trying to set his Zoom backdrop to look like he was sitting in Buffalo Wild Wings.
Bunkered in your well-appointed basement war room and stocked with draft necessities — seven computer monitors of various sizes, a smattering of notebooks, an NFL draft rules handbook, two secure land lines, and a month’s supply of Red Man — you mull over your options... a plug and play slot cornerback in Jeff Gladney to replace Logan Ryan and help you get younger at corner? Maybe mauling right tackle Isaiah Wilson? A disruptive defensive lineman like Marlon Davidson? Should you get saucy and dip into a star studded class of wide receivers and snag the electric Jalen Reagor?
A bead of sweat rolls down your right cheek. It’s not nerves, it’s the fact that someone set your thermostat to 73 degrees like a psychopath, but you can deal with that later. Your focus returns to a ringing phone... the Colts are interested in moving up from 34 to draft Jordan Love and they’re willing to throw in the 122nd overall pick to do it.
The Panthers are also interested, but their pick at 38 means four more agonizing picks that could pull the player that you’re most interested in off the board before you get a chance to take him. However, you’re taking a potential franchise QB from a division rival and Carolina’s pick in the 4th round is 9 spots better than Indy’s. You wipe the sweat away and make the call into the league...
So what did you do?
This is a very real scenario that the Titans real GM could be faced with Thursday night. It’s a tough call and the reality is that we won’t know if the “right” choice was made until three or four years from now.
However, if I’m Jon Robinson, I’m pulling the trigger on the trade with the Colts. Sure, I don’t love the idea of giving them the quarterback they want, but Love is far from a sure thing and those four spots between pick 34 and pick 38 could be the difference in landing Gladney (or Wilson or Reagor or Davidson) and effectively picking up a 4th round pick “for free” and having to settle for a guy that you had a lower grade on.
Trading back makes a world of sense in this draft to me. At 29, they’re unlikely to have a slam dunk elite prospect fall in their lap and the roster is begging for young depth at a ton of spots.
Tennessee needs urgent help at cornerback (especially the slot), but they could also use depth/rotational pieces at defensive line, inside linebacker, quarterback, running back, wide receiver, offensive line, and kicker. That’s eight positions and Jon Robinson currently has just seven picks to make in the draft. And if you really want to be honest, we shouldn’t count the three 7th rounders in that total as they’re little more than high end UDFA type prospects at that point who would be lucky to make the 53-man roster.
It's really hard to fill out the needs on this roster with just four picks in the first five rounds. So trading down, maybe even multiple times, and accumulating extra picks seems like good business to me.
The order in which the Titans choose to attack their needs will also be fascinating. The biggest need is clearly cornerback, but if the wisdom of media mock drafts and big boards are to be believed, you can get solid corners at 61 and even at 93. Players like Damon Arnette, Amik Robertson, Cameron Dantzler, Darnay Holmes, and Troy Pride can often be found in that range on most boards.
The drop off from guys like Kristian Fulton, Jaylon Johnson, and Jeff Gladney — three of the most likely options at corner at pick 29 — to that next tier isn’t likely to be as big as the drop off from a Josh Jones or Isaiah Wilson level tackle that could be found in the top of round two compared to a potential 2nd or 3rd round tackle.
Position scarcity and need are certainly factors that have to be considered with any draft plan. You can’t effectively evaluate one without the other.
For that reason, my ideal scenario for the Titans in this draft look a little something like this:
Trade down from 29 to 34 and pick up pick 122.
Pick 34 (2nd Round): Isaiah Wilson, OT, Georgia
Pick 61 (2nd Round): Amik Robertson, CB, Louisiana Tech
Pick 93 (3rd Round): Devin Duvernay, WR, Texas
Pick 122 (4th Round): Darrynton Evans, RB, Appalachian State
Pick 174 (5th Round): Derrek Tuszka, EDGE, North Dakota State
Pick 224 (7th Round): Cole McDonald, QB, Hawaii
Pick 237 (7th Round): Shaun Bradley, ILB, Temple
Pick 243 (7th Round): Rodrigo Blankenship, K, Georgia
So there you have it. The Titans get a monstrous right tackle to take over for Dennis Kelly in the near future, a feisty ball-hawking slot cornerback, a dynamic speed receiver with great hands, an explosive running back with four down value, a toolsy, productive pass rush prospect, an athletic, fun developmental QB, an athletic backup linebacker, and the best kicker in college football.
All of those picks fall within a reasonable range based on the 2020 Consensus Big Board as compiled by Arif Hasan for The Athletic. That board blends together big boards from over 60 sources and has proven to be a more accurate predictor of eventual draft slots than the boards assembled by individual experts.
The Titans have also met or been heavily linked with six of my eight picks. The only exceptions being Duvernay and Blankenship. This is — in my humble opinion — a pretty realistic version of a possible Titans draft haul.
Follow that up by announcing the signing of Jadeveon Clowney after the Tuesday deadline for the closing of the comp pick window, likely locking in an extra 2021 3rd round pick for the Titans next spring. Who says no?