NASHVILLE — We are through three rounds of the Tennessee Titans’ NFL Draft. Much noise has been made about the four players that GM Jon Robinson chose.
Mostly, about the positions selected.
Tennessee added a pair of corners in Caleb Farley (22) and Elijah Molden (100) in the first two days. Tackle Dillon Radunz (53) was selected to bolster the depth on the Titans’ offensive line. In a move that seemed to surprise even the player himself, Robinson traded back with the Green Bay Packers from 85th overall in the third round to 92 and acquired Georgia inside linebacker Monty Rice.
“Honestly, I had no idea,” said Rice of Tennessee’s interest in him. “I honestly thought it was going to be the Lions to be honest with you, but it wasn’t.”
The Titans received the Rice pick and No. 135 in the Saturday’s fourth round from Green Bay in their trade.
Fans often cause themselves consternation with who their team selects (or doesn’t) in the NFL Draft. In the case of the Titans’ base, a lack of offensive skill position players acquired thus far has been the loudest complaint. There likely is not an explanation that will satisfy the Internet’s lust for blood.
All we can do here is attempt to translate.
You asked for a new defense, the Titans gave you one
Spot the lie.
Media and fans alike hammered Robinson and coach Mike Vrabel for the atrocity that was Tennessee’s 2020 defense. The only place that this unit could not be criticized for was their ability to create turnovers, where they finished atop the league (+11). Clearly, the Titans goal this offseason was to purge that side of the ball.
Both in free agency and the draft.
“Competition is something – we would love to build our roster around,” Vrabel said Friday night. “It’s about competition and winning, and so when you try to put a roster together, and Jon (Robinson) and I communicate about it daily, is just try to put pieces together, people that are going to want to reflect us on and off the field that are willing to put the team first, obviously love football, those things, and just really enjoyed our conversations.”
The Titans defense in 2020 not only lacked top end talent but was stricken by an obvious lack of depth.
While preseason starters and two-deep projections mean precious little, it is impossible to argue that coordinator Shane Bowen’s unit will look drastically different. As many as six of the 11 featured players on Tennessee’s different will be new faces in 2021. The additions of Molden and Rice may push that even further, particularly at inside linebacker.
The long-term futures of Rashaan Evans and Jayon Brown in Nashville are anything but certain.
Robinson’s draft shows a ton of faith in Josh Reynolds
Wide receiver Josh Reynolds has never been a primary option in his NFL career. Heading into Year 5, Reynolds is hoping to make an impact with the Titans.
The opportunity will certainly be there.
2021’s crop of draft prospects is renowned for its depth at wide receiver and Tennessee’s certainly willing to put that to the test. Robinson will add at least one player at the position in Day 3’s festivities and plenty of competent names remain on the board for them to improve.
“Yeah, there were certainly players in those position groups that we liked,” said Robinson on Friday. “We tried to move around some tonight. We were able to slide back. We tried moving up and couldn’t get up quite high enough a couple times, and that’s just kind of the way the players fell at the end. But there are some players still left. We’ve got six picks (on Saturday), and there are still some players on the board that we like.”
The Titans lost just over 43% of their receiving production this offseason in three players.
Corey Davis (984) and tight end Jonnu Smith (448) left Tennessee in free agency. Receiver Adam Humphries (228) was released in February as a salary cap casualty. The trio combined for 15 of the Titans 33 receiving touchdowns in 2020.
While it is more than reasonable to expect Robinson to target a couple of pass catchers at both positions in the final day of the Draft, Reynolds comes in ahead of the curve and with a massive opportunity.
Tennessee owns picks No.’s 126, 135, 166, 205, 215 and 232 in rounds 4-7. It is clear that Robinson and Vrabel are comfortable letting the draft come to them.