The Titans hold all the cards headed into the NFL Draft next month. With the first overall pick new General Manager Jon Robinson would look to take Tennessee from the bottom of the NFL to the top of the AFC South as soon as possible. The Titans have been rumored to be looking at Ole Miss left tackle Laremy Tunsil and Florida State cornerback Jalen Ramsey for the first pick. Tennessee has a lot of holes at offensive line, receiver and secondary and with the 1st and 33rd picks (#2 in second round) the team can go along way in filling those holes.
It’s a loosely guarded secret in Nashville that the Titans want to trade out of the top pick. Robinson wants to move back in the draft and acquire more picks. The only problem is that this year there is no clear cut franchise QBs like last year when Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota came out. Jared Goff and Carson Wentz are decent QB prospects but neither are thought to be a slam dunk like the two at the top of the 2015 draft. Right now there isn’t a team clamoring to get Goff or Wentz because both have questions marks. Goff has small hands by NFL standards and Wentz played at a small FCS school. To some those are red flags to others they are things to hold over each prospects head through the draft.
Cleveland is picking at #2 and will likely take one of the two quarterbacks in next month’s draft. Tennessee has to keep their fingers crossed that another team wants QB badly enough to make a trade to get in front of the Browns. The Cowboys at #4 and 49ers at #7 could use a QB but neither team is locked in to draft a quarterback. Cowboy’s owner Jerry Jones has gone on record stating that Dallas won’t draft a QB at #4 but that could all be posturing. Tony Romo has been a good quarterback in Dallas but he was hurt for most of last year and he’s not getting any younger.
The 49ers are having issues under center as well. Colin Kaepernick was once heralded as the savior in San Fransisco and the team go rid of former #1 pick Alex Smith to end a quarterback controversy that was brewing by the bay. But last year Kap regressed and was benched for Blaine Gabbert. Kapernick asked to be traded when new head coach Chip Kelly took over earlier this year but has found no takers. The Broncos could be a likely destination but Denver and San Fransisco are currently engaged in a game of chicken over the embattled quarterback. Denver is hoping the Niners will get tired of dealing with him and cut him while San Fransisco is holding out hope that the Broncos will offer up something for a trade.
The Titans really need the Niners and Cowboys to fall in love with Goff or Wentz and feel the need to jump over Cleveland at #2 to get their guy. But the darkhorse contender to make a deal next month is the Rams.
The Rams will be moving back to Los Angeles in 2016 and will have to grow a fan base that disintegrated when the franchise moved to St. Louis in the 90s. The team made news last week by announcing that Case Keenum will be the starting quarterback in 2016. I’m not an NFL GM but if I was trying to build a buzz around my team moving to the second largest market in the United States Keenum isn’t the guy I’m pitching to sell tickets to potential season ticket holders. The Rams need a rockstar QB and Goff or Wentz, (more likely Goff) could be a shot in the arm for the team. But with L.A. picking at #15 how can they jump to the front of the line over Cleveland? Luckily they have something that doesn’t come around very often, two picks in the second round, #43 and #45 that they could use to try to make a deal with Tennessee for the first overall pick.
Two second round picks could be packaged together to be dealt for a late #1. For example, Kansas City picking at #28 might be inclined to trade out of the first round for the two second rounders. The Rams give up #43 and #45 and then have #15 and #28 to play with as trade bait. Looking to make a splash in Southern California the team offers up their two first round picks along with another first and second round next year and gets to move to the first pick. Or the Titans could ask for the Rams first round pick (#15) and two seconds (#43 and #45) and get their first round selection next year along with another pick or two.
Should the Rams make a deal with the Chiefs for their first round pick Tennessee could still wind up with a starting tackle in Jack Conklin from Michigan State at #15 and grab Ohio State corner Eli Apple at #28. With the second pick in round 2, #33 the Titans could pick up USC safety Su’a Cravens. Tennessee’s secondary and offensive line needs will be addressed with three potential starters for 2016.
If the Titans took the Rams two second round selections Tennessee would have four picks in the top 45 selections. The team could still take Conklin at #15, Clemson corner Mackensie Alexander at #33, Ole Miss defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche at #43 and Baylor receiver Corey Coleman at #45. This gives Jon Robinson four impact players going forward into next season and gives the team an extra first round pick next year to boot. Not to mention that six months ago Nkemdiche was thought to be a top five player before he had some issues of the field in Atlanta.
If the Rams want to move up to make a splash in their new market by drafting Goff or Wentz the Titans would be silly to not listen. Sure, ideally Tennessee would like to stay in the top ten but two second round picks or a late first rounder via trade would give Jon Robinson the extra selections he needs to make the Titans a playoff contender once again.
The draft is a month away. We’ll have to stay tuned to see what happens.