The Tennessee Titans traded back up to the eighth overall spot and selected Michigan State’s Jack Conklin with the pick acquired from the Cleveland Browns.
Conklin comes to the Titans and could immediately become the starter, likely at right tackle, for the Titans who had issues on the offensive line the past few seasons.
Conklin said his visit to the Titans went well and he had a feeling that he might be their pick.
“I fell in love with the program and everything they’re trying to build there. I had a sense when I left that that was going to be the organization I wound up with,” Conklin said.
The acquisition of Conklin came with the Browns sixth-round pick and the Titans gave up their first-rounder (No. 15) and a third-rounder (No. 76) this year and gave up a 2017 second-round choice as well. Tennessee acquired the pick at the top of the sixth round (No. 176 overall) as part of the deal.
Conklin said his physical style is something he prides himself on.
“I pride myself on being a mauler, but I pride myself more importantly on playing every play of the game, playing the first play like I play the last,” Conklin said.
By choosing Conklin, the Titans have seemingly solved their issues on the edge with Taylor Lewan on one side and the rookie on the other. Tennessee allowed a league-worst 54 sacks a year ago. Titans GM Jon Robinson wouldn’t commit to a set position for Conklin, though right tackle would seem to be the most obvious fit.
“Jack has played left. At one point, he played right. He’s played some guard Versatility in the offensive line is important. …. He can play either side,” Titans general manager Jon Robinson said. “Stylistically, we were able to evaluate all the skill sets that we were going to ask him to do in our offense. It made it a really good pick for us.”
Titans coach Mike Mularkey is excited to bring Conklin on board and has already penciled him in as a starter.
“I’d be very surprised if he isn’t starting for us day one,” Mularkey said.
Conklin’s ascent up draft boards coincided with the freefall of Ole Miss’ Laremy Tunsil, who had been projected as a possible No. 1 overall pick before the Titans traded that choice to the Rams. A video of Tunsil smoking from a bong with a gas mask on appeared on the Ole Miss tackle’s Twitter account about 10 minutes before the draft began. The video was later deleted. Robinson declined comment on the video.
Conklin (6-6, 308) is a self-made player, who was a preferred walk-on at Michigan State as a freshman. He later earned All-America honors from USA Today and as a second-team All-America selection by the Associated Press.
Conklin was the second tackle taken in the draft, as Ronnie Stanley of Notre Dame, another player Tennessee had courted in the pre-draft process.
In terms of trading up to grab Conklin, Robinson said there were a couple of teams coming up that had needs at tackle, so the Titans decided to strike. The Titans materialized about 15 minutes before the draft began, Robinson said.
“We wanted to get ourselves in position to make sure we get our type of guy,” Robinson said.