NASHVILLE, Tenn. — As has been the case for all NFL teams, the COVID-19 pandemic has turned the Tennessee Titans organization into a fully-digital operation.
The Titans were forced to hold all but 10 pre-draft visits with prospects over video conference, and general manager Jon Robinson will be making the team’s draft selections from his home.
Despite the challenges of the new format, Robinson and head coach Mike Vrabel believe they’ve been able to effectively evaluate prospects, and they feel prepared for the NFL’s first-ever digital draft.
“Coach Vrabel and his staff have done a great job,” Robinson said.
“All of our scouts have done a great job, whether it was in meetings or getting information on players, getting in contact with players, all of that stuff has been really good for us and we feel good about where we are.”
First Look 👀: GM Jon Robinson’s at-home, NFL Draft war room
— Tennessee Titans (@Titans) April 21, 2020
Typically, NFL teams are allowed to invite 30 prospects to their facility for sometimes lengthy pre-draft visits that can involve interviews, play breakdowns and a workout.
In 2020, teams were limited to video conferences that lasted around an hour.
The Titans spent many of those video conferences checking up on players that they met but spent less than 20 minutes with at the NFL Scouting Combine in March.
“It was 18 minutes this year per prospect, and these guys have a lot going on whether it’s medical, or they’re downstairs with what we call the train station interview with five or six teams in a row,” Robinson said.
“We’ve been able to jump on calls with them and get to know them a little bit better in their setting, and we had a little bit better impression of them.”
Though he wasn’t able to work with any of them on the practice field, Vrabel said he liked what the Titans were able to get out of the video interviews.
“I think they’ve been great,” Vrabel said. “I think we really probably have taken that to something where, we had an opinion on a player, or what we thought about a player, and you meet with him for 30 or 40 minutes and you really get a sense of, “Do you want this guy to represent your organization?'”
The success of the Titans’ virtual interviews has led Robinson and Vrabel to feel confident heading into a digital draft that could be logistically difficult.
Robinson, who is used to being able to look all of his scouts in the eyes and command his war room in person, has been relegated to a desk at his home complete with four tablets and multiple desktop computers.
Vrabel, whose setup prominently features a giant whiteboard, will also participate in the draft from his Nashville home.
To prepare for potential communication difficulties, such as in the event the Titans want to make a mid-draft trade, the organization ran an internal mock draft.
“I thought it was unbelievably functional,” Vrabel said. “It was amazing the work that those people put in, whether that be our IT department, whether it be the scouting department and some of those people involved with making sure the virtual draft was as perfect as it could be.”
“My biggest concern was the ability to make trades, and how that was going to go off. I think that I feel a little bit more at ease now that we’ve got the draft phones set up.”
Barring a trade, the Titans will make their first selection of the 2020 NFL Draft on Thursday night at pick No. 29 of the first round.
Cover image: Trevor Ruszkowski & Brian Spurlock / USA Today