NASHVILLE, Tenn. — In the weeks leading up to the NFL’s annual prospect selection, the only thing more abundant than the endless supply of mock drafts is the amount of misdirection and smokescreens that teams traffic in as they try to protect their most sacred of secrets: their draft boards.
“Mostly wildly untrue,” Tennessee Titans general manager Jon Robinson responded when asked about how he processes all the misinformation that surround his colleagues’ preferences at this time of the year. “You just try and sort through it and you try to connect as many dots as possible knowing that, once the commissioner puts the teams on the clock and the Draft gets going, all bets are kind of off.”
Translation: We’re all just wading through the muck.
Robinson and coach Mike Vrabel fielded questions from the local media at St. Thomas Sports Park Monday in what the team dubbed its “Draft Preview” press conference. The 2018 NFL Draft will begin Thursday, April 28th at 7:00 PM CT from AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Barring a trade, the Titans are slated to pick in the bottom of the first round at No. 25. While there was no real light shed Monday on what the Titans will do with their top selection (or any selection, for that matter), Robinson and Vrabel did expound on their process and the dynamics of working towards this week’s main event.
“That’s one of the first things that we did was to sit down with Coach Vrabel, coordinators and position coaches (after they were hired in January),” said Robinson on collaborating with Tennessee’s new coaching staff. “We kind of merged, I would say, our position specifics and critical factors, if you will, on the different players. Again, this is a shared vision that we want for this football team; One that I think that we’re aligned from a vision standpoint and the types of players we want to add.”
The Titans and former coach Mike Mularkey opted to part ways in January following the club’s first playoff win since 2003. Robinson reiterated that the organizational change did not cause them to really re-shuffle their draft board. As a rookie head coach, Vrabel voiced his satisfaction with he and Robinson’s partnership and the approach the organization has taken to draft prep heading into his first NFL season as a head coach.
“It’s been great,” Vrabel said when asked about his pre-draft experience. “We’ve been on the road; sometimes we’re together, sometimes we have kind of divided and try to conquer but we’ve been on the road. We’ve been able to meet with guys that have come in here, with the ’30 visit’ guys and sit down and talk. I think that’s been well planned out. We’ve had four or five guys in here in a day and been able to sit down with each of those guys for 45 minutes or an hour and our position coach sees them. Like Jon (Robinson) said, there’s a lot of people that get to see these (prospects) and we take all their input as we evaluate and build a profile on the player.”
Each NFL teams is afforded the opportunity to meet with draft prospects at the Senior Bowl, NFL Scouting Combine and their college’s pro days, but the 30 allotted visits the 32 clubs are allowed with potential draftees at the teams’ facilities are the most important and most in-depth.
With only six choices in 2018, Robinson’s margin for error will be slimmer as he heads into his third draft at the helm in Nashville. Per Jim Wyatt of the team’s official website, Robinson picked 10 players in 2016, his first draft with Tennessee, and nine players the following year. Couple the dearth of selections this offseason with the Titans recent playoff success pushing the team further down in the draft order and you have a unique opportunity for Robinson to show his mastery of the draft system. The third-year GM has shown no hesitancy to maneuver for additional draft capital, though, and did not rule out the idea of trading to do so.
“I love my draft picks,” Robinson joked when asked if he was content with the six he presently holds.” We’ll see how it goes. There may be a situation that comes up Thursday night, and we bail on (pick) 25. It is the value of the player that is staring at you on the board versus the value of the picks that you can get.
— Buck Reising (@BuckReising) April 23, 2018