In Jon Robinson’s first three drafts, we’ve seen him use many different strategies. In 2016, he traded away the first overall pick and accumulated draft capital for the future. Then, in his second draft, he stuck with both of the Titans’ first round picks and selected wide receiver Corey Davis and cornerback Adoree Jackson. Finally, last year, he traded up in both the first and second rounds to get his guys, Rashaan Evans and Harold Landry respectively. This year’s draft seems to be the most confusing in years. No one knows what is going to happen anywhere in the first round. Therefore, I could see Robinson attacking Thursday night in one of these three ways.
Trade Up to Select Defensive Tackle Ed Oliver
Oliver was expected to be in contention for the top pick just one year ago. However, his final year in college didn’t keep him at the top of draft boards. The Titans have shown a good amount of interest in the Houston defensive tackle. Tennessee asked him to work out at outside linebacker at the combine and brought him in on an official visit. It is unlikely that Oliver will fall to the Titans at nineteen, almost impossible actually. Therefore, if Robinson and head coach Mike Vrabel think he is the guy, they will have to trade up.
This scenario isn’t likely, mostly because the Titans only had three players from last year’s draft stick with the team. However, if there is an early run on quarterbacks and Oliver slips outside of the top eight, don’t be surprised if the Titans attempt to move up. In front of the home crowd in Nashville, a big move like this for an elite player could energize the fan base. Oliver would immediately improve the Titans pass rush and make things easier on Jurrell Casey and Landry. His versatility would allow him to play down on the line or as a stand-up pass rusher at outside linebacker. I don’t anticipate Tennessee trading up on draft night, but if they did, expect it to be for Oliver.
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Stick at 19 and Select the Best Available Edge Rusher
Tennessee has a glaring need at pass-rusher after the retirement of Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan leaving in free agency. Cameron Wake was brought in during the free agency period, but he won’t be able to play every down for Tennessee. They need to select a pass-rusher during the early rounds. With a deep class at this position, it is possible that one of the elite players on the outside could fall to the Titans. Blue chip talents like Nick Bosa, Josh Allen, and Montez Sweat are out of the question. However, Brian Burns, Clelin Ferrell, and maybe even Rashan Gary could possibly slip to the 19th pick.
If any of those six players are still on the board at nineteen, barring another top talent like tight end T.J. Hockenson, slipping, the Titans should run their draft ticket to the stage. There will be opportunities on day two to fill holes on the offensive side of the ball and Tennessee can’t pass on an opportunity to add talent to a weak group at a premier position. If those six aren’t there, then this position will have to be addressed later on in the draft, but odds are, one will still be sitting on the board.
Trade Down and Upgrade the Offense
Robinson has always said how much he values draft capital. After only having four picks last year, he would love to pick up another day two pick by moving back. If the pass-rushers are all gone and there are no players that seem to be worth the 19th pick on the board, trade back. After EDGE, the two most important goals for the Titans are strengthening the interior offensive line and adding another offensive weapon. Tennessee could easily move back five to ten spots and grab a great player at one of these two positions.
On the line, Garrett Bradbury, Erik McCoy, and Chris Lindstrom should all be available late on Thursday night. They would all be plug-and-play starters for the Titans at either the center or right guard position. Tight end Irv Smith Jr. and wide receivers Marquise “Hollywood” Brown and A.J. Brown could all be available and worth a pick in the mid-twenties. If Robinson could pick up a few extra picks and add one of these players on Thursday, I think he would be very happy heading into day two.
Obviously, there are more scenarios that could occur in Nashville on Thursday. However, these seem to be the most likely based on visits, needs, and Robinson’s love for draft capital. Any of these moves would improve the team immediately and fans should be partying in the streets if they pan out. Well, more than they will be anyway.