Jon Robinson is comfortable with where the Tennessee Titans are.
So much so, he traded up twice during the 2018 NFL Draft in order to fill needs at linebacker and edge rusher. The Titans only had four draft picks, but managed to add depth through free agency with the expensive acquisitions of Dion Lewis and Malcolm Butler.
While the buzz in Nashville surrounding the Titans is rapidly increasing, so is the pressure for a single draft pick to live up to expectations — wide receiver Corey Davis.
Robinson drafted Davis with the 5th overall pick in the 2017 draft. During an injury-riddled rookie campaign, Davis caught 34 passes for 375 yards and zero touchdowns, as well as a pedestrian catch percentage of 52.3.
Although the Western Michigan product scored two memorable touchdowns against New England in the playoffs, it wasn’t nearly enough to justify where he was drafted.
Hindsight is 20/20, but even if we go back to the night Davis was drafted, was Robinson making the right decision for the franchise?
The Titans are viewed as a team on the ascent, but Robinson potentially heldTennessee’s progress back by drafting Davis at such a prime position. If we look at the recent history of wide receivers drafted in the top five, and analyze the receivers of Super Bowl championship teams, then it’s apparent Robinson decision was ill-advised.
WRs value to Super Bowl success
Due to stricter rules in pass coverage and an overall advancement in offensive knowledge, the majority of NFL offenses are built around the passing game, but NOT wide receivers. That’s because upper-level quarterbacks are capable of transforming Day 2 prospects into 1,000-yard receivers.
In order to determine how valuable a wide receiver drafted in the top 5 is to winning a Super Bowl, I took the past 10 Super Bowl champions and looked at their top four receivers, which also includes running backs and tight ends. Here are the results out of 38 players.
|Round drafted||# of players|
Of the seven first-round selections, none were drafted within the top ten, and the only player drafted within the top 20 was Jeremy Shockey, a tight end originally drafted by the New York Giants who later won a Super Bowl with the 2009 New Orleans Saints.
Of the five championship teams with a first-round wide receiver, only one was led in receiving yards by said first-round receiver — the 2015 Denver Broncos with Demaryius Thomas. In their 24-10 Super Bowl 50 victory over the Carolina Panthers, Thomas caught a single pass for eight yards, and the Broncos as an offense only gained 143 yards.
Clearly, wide receivers finish low on the value totem poll, especially when they’re drafted in the top five. Since 2008, five receivers have been drafted in the top five — AJ Green (2011), Justin Blackmon (2012), Sammy Watkins (2014), Amari Cooper (2015), and Corey Davis.
Green is an elite weapon with zero playoff victories; Blackmon couldn’t stay off the weed; Watkins is constantly hobbled; Cooper had 146 receiving yards after the first six games last season before recording nearly 1/3rd of his total 2017 production in the seventh game; Davis rarely saw the field in 2017.
In fact, of the three receivers drafted in the top ten last season, none finished in the top 10 of rookie receiving yards. Who topped that list? Pittsburgh’s JuJu Smith-Schuster, a second-round draft pick.
What it means for Corey Davis and the Tennessee Titans
Jon Robinson is universally praised for the job he’s done in Nashville — back-to-back winning seasons and a playoff victory will do that.
However, his decision to draft Davis with an incredibly valuable top-five pick remains a head scratcher. How can someone from the New England tree pull off such an anti-Patriot move?
It’s a gigantic gamble. If Corey Davis doesn’t produce close to the level he produced in college, then it’s appropriate to question why Robinson passed on elite defensive prospects such as Marshon Lattimore, Malik Hooker, and Reuben Foster. At the very least, Robinson could’ve obtained more draft capital by trading down.
Robinson’s job isn’t on the line, but make no mistake about it, if Davis flops, his decision-making skills should come into question.