Jon Robinson failed to adequately address his most significant roster hole during the NFL draft

Coming into the 2021 NFL draft, we all knew how undesirable the Titans’ situation at wide receiver was. 

Aside from A.J. Brown and Josh Reynolds, the depth the group had was poor, leading us to believe that Jon Robinson would do the right thing and draft a talented wide receiver that could contribute from day one. 

That was a logical conclusion of course.

Since investing into “projects” or prospects that need a good amount of work wouldn’t slide for a team needing to keep up their form and pace to keep up with the division rival Colts, and the rest of the AFC which has no shortage of contenders. 

The first round came, pick number 22 to be exact, and the Titans were on the clock. Many expected a receiver like Elijah Moore or Rashod Bateman to become the newest pro-ready receiver to don a Titans jersey. But instead, it was a corner, a talented one at that in Caleb Farley. 

Farley wasn’t a bad pick by any means, in fact, I loved the pick personally. If he can put his back injuries behind him, he’s going to be a contributor to this Titans defense for a long time. 

Onto the second round, where the team picked up a talented tackle prospect in Dillon Radunz. Again, not a bad pick at all. He’s probably going to get some consideration for the starting right tackle spot with a few other veterans gunning for the same starting role. 

By the time the Titans’ first 3rd round pick came around, Jon Robinson had a couple of options to choose from to finally address the receiver position. Amari Rodgers, a speedy slot wideout that could play day one, was there. Nico Collins, a big bodied receiver that wouldn’t address the slot but would bring some much needed depth, was there as well. 

But instead of doing the logical thing and just taking a wideout to ease concerns, Robinson traded down. Not only that, Amari Rodgers was selected with the exact same pick the Titans had before they elected to trade down. 

At that point the “damage” had already been done.

No wide receiver selected through the first of three Titans selections, and with the talent drop-off looking a little steep after the “2nd tier” of wide receivers, there was virtually no shot at the team acquiring a pro ready wideout with their remaining picks.

Robinson did end up selecting two wideouts during the remaining rounds of the draft. But it’s hard to imagine any of those options becoming the solid day one contributor the Titans need right now. 

That’s a problem, a big problem in fact. 

We’ve discussed time and time again how this team needs to keep up their offensive pace to hang with the rest of the AFC, especially the juggernaut in Kansas City. 

You can’t do that if you don’t have the necessary skill, talent, and depth on the outside to not only keep the passing game chugging and humming, but to take some pressure off your dominant ground game. One in which will likely meet a bit of regression as the 2021 season evolves.

Could Robinson look through the trade market for extra wide receiver help if he isn’t satisfied with the group? 

Absolutely.

In fact that’s what any serious NFL GM should be doing anyways. 

The problem with that scenario is that Robinson hasn’t traded a lot of draft capital to land high profile — or highly talented — veteran help. Demarco Murray is the only high profile skill position player Robinson has traded draft capital for, and even then he only gave up a measly fourth-round pick. 

Based on Robinson’s transaction pattern, I doubt he makes a move for someone like Anthony Miller, or even a big fish like Julio Jones. Robinson loves his draft capital and would rather build his team through the draft and free agency if necessary. Not by going crazy in trade talks and sending shock waves throughout the league. 

Whatever Robinson does, he can’ sit on his hands at this point. He had a chance to eliminate any short-term worries about the wide receiver depth but obviously failed to capitalize. 

Now he’s left with a few choices. Make a big move via trade, take a big swing on whatever remains in free agency, or take the biggest gamble of his tenure by rolling with whatever he has right now. 

Whatever option Robinson rolls with, time’s a tickin.

Comments

  1. If Brown, Reynolds, Fitzpatrick, Firkser, Evans stay reasonably healthy this year, we have a similar level of firepower as we had last year with Brown, Davis, Jonnu (blocking) Firkser, Humphries.

    I would take last year’s group over this year’s, but I don’t hate this year’s group as it sits if we stay reasonably healthy.

    I think the bigger keys to our success in the passing game this year are the health of our OT’s and the emergence of Darrynton Evans as a healthy, pass-catching threat and not just out of the backfield.

    Do I wish we had spent a 2 or a 3 on WR, yes. But am I sad about what we got, not really. Hopefully Rice comes through for us and makes us feel okay about him being taken in that spot instead.

    1. Well that’s if all things go well you know? Reynolds has never consistently played as an outside receiver, Fitzpatrick is day three rookie, Firkser has shown some things but I believe a good bit of his success came from advantageous matchups due to the talent around him, and we don’t know what to expect out of Evans. I hear what you’re saying but that’s just too many question marks in my opinion.

      If the group stays as is then it has some talent yes, but it’s just going to be hard to truly gauge what it can do simply because it’s si unproven.

      Yes healthy offensive tackle play is a really big key this year, and you’re right about Evans as well. They didn’t have to force him into playing as a slot receiver or a gadget guy at times, but he’s going to have to contribute a great deal if the group stays as it.

      That’s totally fair, but having a lot of hope instead of certainty doesn’t move the needle much in my opinion. Could Rice come on and surprise as an important depth piece at inside linebacker? 100%. It’s just unlikely he does so and you can’t make those what if picks when you’re in a situation like the Titans are.

  2. People are acting like JRob hasn’t fielded titans teams with this much or less talent at WR in previous years. He’s 100% okay with not adding any more pieces. AJ will get doubled, and suffer because of it, and our WR 2-4 group will average around 20 catches and 300 yards for the season. It will be tough for AJ to get 1000 again, not to mention DH will suffer because they will load the box no problem on 1st and 2nd down. He’ll still beat it a lot like he always has, but he won’t produce like last year when we had CD and AJ out there.

    1. Zach Lyons touched on this a good bit too if I remember correctly. He said the organization as a whole doesn’t really value the WR2 spot and that can be proven true. You need offense in this day in age to truly reach the height of your game. You touched on the potential drawbacks of the lack of depth at wide receiver and I see where you’re coming from. I think if the group stays as it, AJ Brown is going to get a lottttttt of targets, like more than he’s gotten before. They’ll have to move him around a lot to go through that plan if they prefer to do so though.

  3. Of course this is your opinion. Some believe Reynolds is set to have a breakout year and have written articles about it. We are a smash mouth team, with a bulldozer @ rb.! We needed a tackle who can road grade people & pass block. Radunz may be the next Michael Roos. If they have confidence in Reynolds then Fitz in the 4th is fine.They have said they slot wr’s on their roster already. Obviously they liked him better than any other wr left. It is obvious they loved Molden. I will trust their football acumen more than a sportswriter’s or blogger’s.Also, we desperately needed a shutdown corner. That’s what it will take to beat KC.

    1. Oh of course I recognize that. But I see what this team didn’t do at a very important position and it makes me wonder that’s all. Plus it’s fine to have confidence in your guys, but if your guys can’t do the things you want them to do at a high level, then the blame falls on you (front office) for not finding better players to fill those initial important roles. This team is built to beat teams up physically yes, but I don’t believe there’s truly a defense out there that can shut down a healthy Chiefs team. So the next best thing is to try to keep up with them on the scoreboard, which is much easier to do since their defense has always ran into some problems throughout the early portion of their run of success.

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