Story By: Brady Trapnell
It is not often that you hear an NFL GM compare players to different types of knives.
“It is kind of like a Swiss Army knife,” Titans GM Jon Robinson said, after I asked him about the versatility of his draft class. “If you’ve got a Swiss Army knife, then you’ve got a lot of things you can do with that thing.
If you’ve just got a butter knife, then there is just about one thing you can do and that is spread butter.”
In other words, Robinson selected a lot of Swiss Army knives in his 2018 draft class.
That knife means versatility, a common thread throughout draft weekend. And, the Tennessee Titans pursuit of versatility started in the first round at pick 22 with former Alabama linebacker Rashaan Evans.
“He factors on passing downs, both as a rusher and in coverage,’’ Robinson said of Evans. “He’s a versatile player that can do quite a bit of things.”
Then, the aggressive Robinson traded up again to grab Harold Landry from Boston College at pick 41 in the second round. The former NCAA sacks leader, who tallied 16.5 sacks his junior season, can rush the passer with his hand in the dirt or from the 3-4 linebacker spot.
Landry is 6’2’’ and 252 pounds.
In 2016, he has 16.5 sacks at Boston College.
Love the move by #Titans GM Jon Robinson.
Immediate impact and should’ve been picked in the first round. #woah
— AtoZSports Nashville (@AtoZSports) April 27, 2018
But, the desire for versatile players did not stop for the third-year GM and his new coaching staff. They traded up again to select Dane Cruikshank in the fifth round, a defensive back out of the University of Arizona.
“He’s a versatile defensive back, played a lot of positions,” Robinson said of Cruikshank. “We spent a lot of time with him this spring. He has really good size, really good speed. He has played outside corner, he’s played inside corner, he’s worked some at safety, played some in the kicking game.”
Cruikshank said it himself, his strength was “his versatility.”
Versatility means value.
Many pundits said heading into the draft that the Titans needed to draft for depth.
Robinson proved he was drafting for a Super Bowl. And, Super Bowl teams have players that have value outside of their traditional positions. They are simply good players.
Just look at the New England Patriots, they take players that no one seems to want and turns them into star players. Examples 1, 2 and 3: Danny Amendola, Dion Lewis (now a Titans RB) and Julian Edelman.
But, you can only draft players like that by trusting your coaching staff. That’s something Robinson did not have with his staff last season. But, he made it clear that he does now in his post-draft presser.
“These coaches are creative minds,” Robinson said to me on his new coaching staff. “They are going to put our guys into position to maximize their ability, and the fact that they can do a lot different things, it adds a lot of value to our team.”
Value is what the Titans needed in this year’s draft. And, Robinson achieved it by being aggressive, cutting deals like a gangster and “banging on a lot of doors” to get his team to where he wants it to be, and where Titans fans want it to be.
Robinson: "I've banged on a lot of doors this weekend (for trades)."
— AtoZSports Nashville (@AtoZSports) April 28, 2018
Yes, the trades limited the Titans to four picks, which was the lowest number of draft picks in the “Titans Era” of the franchise. But, it shows how far this team has come since Robinson took over in 2016.
In 2016, they drafted 10 players.
In 2017, they drafted another nine prospects.
Now, Robinson and Co. are comfortable enough with their roster to not be concerned with how many picks they brought in.
They have “their” guys. They are tough, physical, selfless and versatile players.
Adding a few Swiss Army knives was the only thing the Titans needed. And, they may be the cherry on top that could push Robinson’s team over the edge to a Super Bowl run in 2018.
Featured Image via AP