Photo: Mark Humphrey/AP
Photo: Mark Humphrey/AP

Two months ago, the Tennessee Titans were all set to draft Laremy Tunsil with the first overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. But, they were listening to offers. They finally found a team needing a franchise quarterback bad enough, so they took a bunch of picks from the Rams, and still got the coveted offensive tackle they were seeking.

Something happened within the last two months that swung this whole draft. The Titans found a team willing to give a king’s ransom worth of picks for the #1 overall pick. Also, they fell out of love with Tunsil, and decided Jack Conklin was the best offensive tackle in this year’s draft.

Maybe it was the fact that Tunsil had a draft night scandal, when a video leaked of him getting all gassed up on illegal fuel. Or, maybe it was the fact that the Ravens selected OT Ronnie Stanley with the sixth pick. With Tunsil not “high” on their consideration list any longer, and with Stanley now off the board, it was a matter of which offensive tackle to take, Jack Conklin or Taylor Decker. After trading back up to 8 from 15, the Titans decided Jack Conklin would be the 8th pick in this year’s draft.

Going into the second day of the draft, and having four picks at their disposal, I wanted the Titans to start adding talent on defense, and find a playmaker. They did just that, drafting defensive end Kevin Dodd, defensive tackle Austin Johnson, safety Kevin Byard, and running back Derrick Henry. See the Day 2 breakdown here in… NFL Draft Day 2: Music City Motherload.

With their final five picks, in the final day of the draft, I wanted to see the Titans do more of the same from Friday, stack talent on defensive and pick up another offensive weapon. They pretty much did that, by drafting wide receiver Tajae Sharpe, cornerback Leshaun Sims, offensive guard Sebastian Tretola, outside linebacker Aaron Wallace, and cornerback Kalan Reed.

 

Here is the Titans final draft board after the conclusion of the 2016 NFL Draft

Round / PickNamePositionCollege
1 / 8Jack ConklinOTMichigan State
2 / 33Kevin DoddDEClemson
2 / 43Austin JohnsonDTPenn State
2 / 45Derrick HenryRBAlabama
3 / 64Kevin ByardSMiddle Tennessee St
5 / 140Tajae SharpeWRMassachusetts
5 / 157Leshaun SimsCBSouthern Utah
6 / 193Sabastian TretolaOGArkansas
7 / 222Aaron WallaceOLBUCLA
7 / 253Kalan ReedCBSouthern Miss

 

Photo Credit: The Tennessee Titans
Photo Credit: The Tennessee Titans

Titans Final Draft Grade = B+

First off, I love what Jon Robinson is doing, and it is very exciting to have a GM that is aggressive, but also appears to know where the team needs to get better. I am completely on board with this draft.

There are only two reasons I am not giving this draft an outright A. First, there were no homerun picks here. Conklin is the closest thing to a homerun, and we’ll see. The other reason is, I didn’t like giving up the two picks in order to move up from 15th to 8th. I think the Titans could have got Conklin, or at least Decker with the 15th pick. The Titans gave up their 3rd round pick this year, and next years 2nd round pick.

To be fair, all of the picks, especially Conklin, could turn out to be homeruns. There will be pressure on Conklin to come in and make a difference right away. The Titans essentially gave up the #1 pick in the draft, to end up selecting Conklin in the first round. He is the only one with extremely high expectations for this season. The Titans were the most sacked team in the NFL last year. When you are trying to develop your up-and-coming star quarterback, you can’t have that.

I love the fact that Robinson and the executive team realize they need talent on the offensive side. Sometimes, you have to pick the household name, and sell tickets. I wanted the Titans to get a couple of receiver prospects and I wanted a stud running back to backup DeMarco Murray, and see a decent amount of touches right away. So the Titans were able to add the Heisman Trophy winner to the payroll, Derrick Henry, as well as the nation’s leader in receptions last season, Tajae Sharpe.

The Titans also stacked talent on the defensive side of the ball, led by 33rd overall pick, defensive end Kevin Dodd. They addressed the pass rush attack, and they aggressively sought after talent in the defensive backfield. The Titans used three of their ten picks on the defensive backfield.

I am also pleased with the slections on the offensive side. They got a consensus first round talent with OT Jack Conklin. They then used a later pick on an OG, Sebastian Tretola from Arkansas. But, is was the skill positions that I was particularly pleased with. You absolutely need two really good running backs in today’s NFL. The Titans turned the corner of being a power run team instantly with this draft. Solidifying their offensive line, and getting a legitimate one/two punch in the backfield with DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry.

They also added a burner in Tajae Sharpe, who led the FBS in receptions last season with 111. He is 6’2 with a long frame. A very good route runner, and should give Dorial Green-Beckham a run for his money for the number two receiver slot.

I can’t remember a 2-14 team that has more legitimate reason to be excited for next season, more than this new version of the Tennessee Titans. Of course, it all has to be played out on the field, but you have to love the work that Jon Robinson has put in, less than three months on the job. After going through the Ruston Webster era, where there was a lack of activity in the free agency period, and one confusing, underachieving, draft pick after another, it’s refreshing to have an organization that is aggressively making moves, to get better.   #TitansUp

 

 

Brandon Reid covers the NFL for MyFantasySportsTalk.com | You can follow him on Twitter @New_Breid

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