Tennessee Titans general manager Jon Robinson has mostly been praised for his decision to trade up in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft to grab Alabama linebacker Rashaan Evans.
Robinson sent a fourth round pick to the Baltimore Ravens to move up three spots in the first round (the Titans received a sixth round pick in the deal).
But trading up might not have been necessary for the Titans.
One of the reasons Robinson decided to trade up was because it was believed the New England Patriots, who held the No. 23 overall selection, were highly interested in Evans.
More: #Patriots ended up sticking at 23 and 31 — never thought that would happen. … #Titans thought NE was taking Evans but we’ll never know. … Everyone had Derwin & Edmunds in the Top 10, can’t believe they fell. I should’ve listen to those who swore Terrell Edmunds was Day 1
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 27, 2018
According to a report from ESPN’s Mike Reiss, however, the Patriots never seriously considered drafting the former Alabama standout.
Once Boise State linebacker Leighton Vander Esch was off the board, the Patriots reportedly knew they wouldn’t be selecting a linebacker in the first round.
So either one of Robinson’s old New England sources failed him (or gave him bad information on purpose), or the decision to trade up was more about staying ahead of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Steelers, who had the No. 28 selection, were the other team that highly coveted Evans (the Carolina Panthers had the No. 24 pick and they obviously weren’t going to select a linebacker).
But it’s unclear if the Steelers were diligently working to move up to land Evans.
Either way, I still think Robinson made the right decision to trade up to land the talented linebacker. Obviously he still could’ve fell to the Titans, but it wasn’t worth the risk of the Steelers (or another team) swooping in and grabbing Evans.
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