NASHVILLE — The Tennessee Titans have always been active when it comes to NFL Draft trades. Under GM Jon Robinson, Tennessee has been unafraid to maneuver up or back.

Except 2021’s draft festivities to be no exception.

Robinson spoke to Titans media on Monday ahead of this week’s selection festivities to field a variety of different questions. This draft’s sex appeal, of course, lies in the top of the first round. Five quarterbacks expect to go off the board on Thursday night. As many as seven wide receivers have the potential to be taken in the first round, too.

For Tennessee, No. 22 overall is a tribute to their last season’s success. Picking in the later stages also requires a more creative draft strategy.

Titans won’t just trade back

Robinson is no stranger to trades in his tenure as GM. Past experience, however, should only inform this year’s process to a degree.

Jul 29, 2017; Nashville, TN, USA; Tennessee Titans general manager Jon Robinson during training camp at Saint Thomas Sports Park. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

“Any time you’re going to move up, you’ve kind of got your eyes on maybe one player or two players,” said Robinson. “According to how many picks you are away from that player, or you might get some information that ‘Hey, this team, they might jump you or they’re looking to come up, too.’ You’re trying to put yourself in a position to get the guy you want.”

Tennessee’s draft trade history under its current GM has been one of upward mobility.

23 times has Robinson traded either picks or players since becoming the Titans GM in 2016. He has moved up or back in each of the five drafts he has overseen. In a class regarded highly for its depth of offensive playmakers and defensive difference-makers, particularly at cornerback, odds are good Tennessee will be active again.

Teams have already begun to shift back and forth in the order, including two of the Titans greatest competitors in the AFC.

“If (trading back) presents itself and it allows us to look at the board and there’s still players that we think we can get three, four, five, six picks back and pick up an extra pick, we’d certainly entertain it,” Robinson said. “You don’t want to trade back just to trade back. 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?’”

Re-Stock through the Draft

Jan 22, 2018; Nashville, TN, USA; Tennessee Titans general manager Jon Robinson (left) speaks to the media as he introduces and new Titans head coach Mike Vrabel (right) during the press conference at Saint Thomas Sports Park. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Tennessee, and most NFL teams, will be forced to replenish their rosters through the 2021 draft in a way they might not necessarily have prepared for.

Each club losing just under $16 million on this year’s salary cap to adjust for pandemic finances accelerates best laid plans. Robinson will enter this year’s events with nine total selections and the franchise’s first compensatory pick (No. 100) since 2013. The Titans have not added a draft class of more than six players since 2017 when Robinson was still in the early stages of re-stocking the talent of a franchise that lacked it across the board.

The path forward will not be clear until around 10 PM CT on Thursday night. The only certainty for this weekend is that Tennessee will on the move.
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