June 05, 2020

Titans GM Robinson open for business when draft begins

Titans GM Robinson open for business when draft begins

Tennessee Titans general manager Jon Robinson has hung his virtual shingle on the door and is open for business, even as the NFL draft approaches Thursday night in an online only world.
The Titans GM admitted in a conference call with reporters Monday that he had some initial fears about whether or not trades could be consummated using the social distancing model that the league has set up for this year’s draft due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“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,” Robinson said. “There’s a lot of trades that get done via cell phone. Sometimes in typical draft years in the past where I’ll text another GM and say, ‘Hey, are you going to pick here? Would you be looking to move?’ They’ll text me back, and I don’t want to say you consummate a trade by a text but you at least get the ball rolling that way. Then you pick up the phone and call. So, I think that style of business with being able to move around on the draft board, we’ll still be able to do that.”
The Titans, like all the other NFL teams this year, won’t have a war room per se, but will have coaches, scouts and necessary front office personnel all in different locations as they work from home, and also communicate with the league and other teams. An in-house virtual mock draft was held last week by the Titans, according to Robinson, and the league was to have a virtual mock draft Monday afternoon in preparation for the real thing.
In picking at 29 this year after reaching the AFC Championship Game last season, Robinson might be more inclined to move back and acquire extra picks, since there might not be much difference in a late first-round pick and an early second-rounder.
“It’s the lowest we’ve picked. I wish we were picking a little bit lower, but I think a lot gets made up of how many first-round grades. I think at the end of the day, we don’t necessarily get caught up on who’s got a first-round grade or doesn’t have a first-round grade. Do we have a vision for the player? Is the player going to be able to come in and help our football team? Are we going to be able to work with them on a day in and day out basis, and make him a better player, and then make us a better football team? We’ll just kind of see how it goes,” Robinson said of the players that might be available when the Titans come on the clock.
The bottom line, Robinson said, is that the player be able to help the Titans, no matter when he is chosen.
“I think from a football team, from a general manager, and not to speak for Mike (Vrabel), we’re just trying to make the football team better,” Robinson said. “It doesn’t really matter – and we tell these players when we hang up the call with them, we’re like, ‘It really doesn’t matter whether you go in the first round, or the second round, or the third round.’ It does from a compensation standpoint on their rookie contract, just say there was a first-round pick. What matters is that they help the football team win. You really won’t know that until we tee it up and kick it off in September.”
Lots of questions could come up when Tennessee’s turn finally arrives, Robinson acknowledges.
“We’ve got to sit there and weather 28 picks. When we’re on the clock it’s no different than any other draft where if the phone rings you take down the potential trade, and you kind of value that relative to the player you’re thinking of picking. Can you get that player if you have to slide back seven, eight, nine, 10 spots?” he said. “Do you think that player will be there, or is there somebody similar that you like? Or, are you better off just taking the player and not risk losing him? All of those things and those decisions we’ve started to work through. We’ve talked through different scenarios, and as that manifests itself on the clock we’ll work through it.”
That said, Robinson didn’t deny that he would like to have more picks. The Titans, through previous trades, don’t have picks in the fourth and sixth rounds. However, they have three picks in round seven.
“I think the more picks you can have, the better. But, I feel like we’ve got enough ammunition draft pick-wise to make ourselves a better football team, hopefully. I think you can poll 31 other GMs and ask them if they could pick up another pick here or there, they would certainly entertain that. We’ll kind of see how things unfold on Thursday, and Friday, and Saturday. As more picks potentially become available by trade, we’ll certainly entertain that,” Robinson said.
Robinson was also asked about the Titans having “gaps” between their picks with no fourth or sixth-round choices.
“If we’ve got the ability to maneuver around and get picks, and slide back a few and pick up extra picks. I don’t necessarily look at it as gaps, but if we’re able to acquire some picks via moving around, I think we’ve proven that we’re more than open for business when it comes to navigating around the draft board and positioning ourselves to get as many picks as possible,” Robinson said.

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