Jon Robinson showed last year that he was more than willing to move up and down the draft board in order to acquire the players he wanted in the NFL Draft.
He dealt the first overall pick to the Rams for theirs at No. 15 as part of the package (including LA’s first choice this year, which is at No. 5), and then worked his way back to No. 8 where the Titans chose Jack Conklin, who became an All-Pro right tackle.
Now, with a season under his belt, Robinson has picks in the first round at Nos. 5 and 18, and is still willing to make a deal – if it’s the right one.
Robinson estimated that the odds that Tennessee would deal at least one of the picks at about “50/50” at the Titans pre-draft press conference Tuesday.
The Titans have no second-round choice, and Robinson surely would like to parlay one of the first-rounders into extra “draft capital” as he calls it.
Robinson admits that, unlike last year, when he traded the first overall choice to the Rams a couple of weeks before draft day, he will likely have to wait until about the time the Titans are on the clock this “year to try and move.
They’ve got to wait for those four players (to be taken) unless they’ve got those four spots pegged on which players are going to go there, it will probably manifest itself a little closer to draft night,” he said.
And there will likely be plenty of give and take with other clubs trying to find the right deal to make – if one can be made at all.
“That’s some of the discussion that we go back and forth with, with the team we might move with, what it might take to eventually come to a decision,” Robinson said. “It’s probably not going to happen on the first phone call that we’re just going to agree and get a deal done. There will be a little bit of back and forth, I would imagine.”
Robinson said Tuesday there has been a little bit in the way of preliminary inquiries, but said talks probably won’t heat up until draft time.
“We’ve had a few calls. We’ve had some that are just investigative to try and see if something is going on around us. We’ve had a couple that are a little more serious in nature about potentially moving,” he said.
Robinson also pointed out that just because the Titans don’t have a second-round choice right now doesn’t mean they won’t have one when the draft starts. Or that it necessarily has to be done by giving up one of their two current first-rounders.
“There’s a lot of way to acquire draft currency, whether that’s future picks for next year, multiple picks this year. There’s different ways of accumulating value for the picks that you would be acquiring to move back,” Robinson said.
The Titans primary needs in this draft lie at wide receiver, where the numbers are down depth-wise, cornerback, where the Titans are still looking for a starter on the outside opposite Logan Ryan and possibly a nickelback as well.
Tight end is also an area that needs addressing, because the Titans lost on-the-line blocker Anthony Fasano in free agency.
One of the goals in the draft this weekend for the Titans with their eight picks (or ever how many they wind up with following trades), Robinson said he hopes that all the club’s needs will be addressed and that Tennessee won’t necessarily have to delve back into free agency.
“I would hope so,” Robinson said. “Every situation is unique. Injuries happen, knock on wood. We’re constantly evaluating the players that are out there on the street that may not have jobs now, but we’ll see how these draft guys mix in.”
The Titans evaluate players differently than a lot of other clubs now. Rather than put a round-grade on a player, prospects are graded on whether or not they can be a starter, role player, backup, etc.
Last year, all 10 draft picks eventually played on the 53-man roster.
“We’ve done a good job of trying to find guys we think might be there on the third day and getting those guys and adding them to our football team, whether it’s a Tajae Sharpe, LeShaun Sims or (Sebastian) Tretola, Aaron Wallace and Kalan Reed. All those guys who were third day players draft-wise came in here and contributed to the football team,” Robinson said.