NASHVILLE — With the 29th pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, the Tennessee Titans select(ed) Georgia offensive tackle Isaiah Wilson.
Fans will hate it, (most) media were caught off guard by it and GM Jon Robinson knows it’s a luxury that his team can afford.
“(Wilson)’s a big man, I mean, at 6-foot-seven, 350 (pounds), and almost 36-inch arms, he’s a tough guy to get out of the way of,” Robinson told media Thursday night. “He’s got excellent power to move the line of scrimmage in the run game, and he’s tough to get around in the pass game. I thought I saw some blocks at the highest level in the SEC where he gets up to level two, and he forces linebackers – if he gets his paws on him, they’re usually done for. But he certainly impacts the path that they take to the back.”
The immediate push-back on the pick will be the contract of veteran Dennis Kelly, whom Tennessee brought back as one of the team’s unrestricted free agents. It should also be noted that there was an attempt by Robinson to trade out of the 29th selection.
“There were other positions that we were looking at, but felt that Isaiah (Wilson) was really just the right player for us,” said Robinson. “We talked a little bit, we had a little bit of action in there at 29, it kind of fizzled out late. But, we’ll get back in the ring tomorrow night and keep punching at this thing.”
Acquired by trade in Robinson’s first year at the helm, Kelly received a three-year, $17.25M contract less than two months ago. The assumption was that the long-time swing tackle would be the immediate solution on the right side of the Titans line with starter Jack Conklin departing for big money in Cleveland. Wilson, though, presented well for Robinson and coach Mike Vrabel at February’s combine, has the tape of an AP All-SEC second team player and fits perfectly with a Tennessee offense that is built to punish.
Wilson’s presence will immediately push Kelly for the starting gig in 2020.
“I think the best part of my game right now is that I am physical and I enjoy beating people up,” Wilson told Nashville media after being drafted. “I enjoy running the ball, I enjoy trying to essentially break another man’s will. That is what I enjoy about the game.”
With an offensive line of Taylor Lewan (6′-7″, 309), Rodger Saffold (6’-5”, 323), Ben Jones (6’-3”, 308), Nate Davis (6’-3”, 316) and Kelly (6′-8″, 321) and a running back in Derrick Henry that stands 6’-3” and clocks in at 247, Tennessee’s offense did not lack for size with the addition of Wilson. There is a brutality, though, that the Georgia product plays with that further entrenches that thumping mindset Vrabel and Robinson want to grow further. As a technician, the new Titan needs refinement and will not fill an immediate starting need.
— AtoZSports Nashville (@AtoZSports) April 23, 2020
Two things help soften the lack of impact: a clear path to Jadeveon Clowney and a cornerback class that has depth well into Draft Days 2 and 3.
“Right there, kind of at the end (of the first round), there was a little bit of a run (on corners),” said Robinson. “We were watching that, but we feel like there’s still some players at that position group. We’ll see how long they last tomorrow and the rest of the weekend. Again, I think the depth of that position group is pretty good for the next two days. But our board, it came off kind of how we had it stacked, if you will, with the players that were selected tonight.”
Robinson might as well have started chomping on a cigar like Colonel John “Hannibal” Smith and told us how much he loves when a plan comes together.
Needs at corner and edge still exist. Tennessee would do well to secure both sooner rather than later. The greatest requirement for Robinson and Vrabel in this Draft, however, was to substantially improve the team’s depth. Wilson’s presence gives them about as high quality an alternative as possible and, potentially, an upgrade.
Acquiring a defensive back (or two), a supplemental running back for Henry and someone to give Clowney a damn physical or a price point reality check are all that stand between the Titans’ most complete squad of the Robinson era.
Featured Image: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports.