Tennessee Titans general manager Jon Robinson addressed the media in his annual pre-draft press conference on Monday.

Here’s what the GM had to say about the Titans’ draft strategy.

TITANS OPEN FOR BUSINESS

Robinson has never been afraid of pulling the trigger on trades during the draft, and 2021 figures to be no exception.

The GM said that the Titans will, at the very least, internally weigh the cost of moving up in the draft, should a player that they really like fall far enough in the first round.

“Anytime you’re going to move up, you’ve kind of got your eyes on maybe one player or two players,” Robinson said.

“We’re talking through that this morning and we’ll continue to talk through it this week. Who are those guys if we get within striking distance, and then what’s the cost of that?”

The Titans are also open to trading down, which makes sense considering how many quality players the team lost during free agency earlier in the spring.

However, Robinson isn’t interested in trading back merely for the sake of stockpiling picks.

“You don’t want to trade back just to trade back,” he said. “There’s got to be kind of a ‘What’s the return on that move, and can you still get a player that you want and maybe pick up a pick in doing so?’”

DEEP DRAFT AT O-LINE AND WIDEOUT

If the Titans end up waiting until later in the draft to take an offensive lineman, we’ll know why.

Robinson mentioned that the group of offensive line prospects in this year’s draft class is pretty deep.

“I think the offensive line group probably has a little bit more depth top to bottom maybe than the D-line group,” he said. “There are some good players in the defensive line group, but I feel like the volume, the supply of players that are in that offensive line group may be a little bit deeper than the defensive line group.”

That would seem to indicate that Robinson won’t place too much value on drafting a right tackle in the first round, since he feels there will be other quality players at the position available later on.

Another position in the 2021 class that Robinson praised for its depth is wide receiver.

“I think that group, it’s pretty balanced from top to bottom,” Robinson said. “You certainly have some premium players at the top and then there are good depth players and role players really all throughout the draft.”

Based on where a lot of the top draft analysts project this weekend to play out, the Titans could have several quality receiver options available in the second round. Among the players who may fall to that point are Elijah Moore of Ole Miss, Dyami Brown of North Carolina and Terrace Marshall of LSU.

DUAL THREAT TIGHT ENDS

In-house tight ends Anthony Firkser and Geoff Swaim both figure to play big roles in replacing Jonnu Smith, now a member of the Patriots, for the Titans.

However, it certainly wouldn’t hurt the Titans to add another quality tight end during the 2021 draft.

If they do, Robinson won’t be looking for a one-dimensional player; he wants a tight end who can block and make an impact in the receiving.

“They’re going to have to block at some point, even they’re ‘receiving’ tight ends,” Robinson said.

“Certainly, some of these players, and not just in this draft, in any draft, the strengths may be more receiving than blocking. We think there are players in this draft that can do both.”

HANDLING OPT-OUTS

A handful of top draft prospects opted out of the 2020 college football season because of COVID-19, which means those players haven’t played in a game or put a single snap on film in well over a year.

That presents a bit of a challenge to NFL talent evaluators, who have to rely on older game film for those players in addition to having to get to the bottom of why they chose to opt out.

The Titans have already evaluated many of those players.

“A lot of those guys went back to their pro days and performed well. Seeing them move around athletically and talking to their staff and getting the reasoning behind their decisions not to play this fall was good.”

Another challenge that the 2020 college season presented to NFL teams was its brevity. Some teams in the NCAA played just a handful of games in 2020 because of cancellations.

Evaluating those players will require NFL personnel departments, including the Titans’, to look at older film and take some leaps.

“We’ve gone back and watched a lot of the 2019 stuff on those guys,” Robinson said. “A couple of guys, we’ve watched every game from the 2019 season they played in, and I think that’s important. Production is important, we want guys to come in and produce.”

Cover image: George Walker IV/The Tennessean via pool


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