Grading the Tennessee Titans’ 2016 Draft Class One Year Later
By Luke Worsham
Since it is nearly impossible to accurately grade a team’s draft class immediately following the draft as many analysts attempt to do, I have made an annual tradition of giving thorough grades to Titans draft classes a year after the fact, once we have actually seen them on an NFL field. Here are my “One Year Later” grades for the Titans’ selections in the 2016 NFL Draft.
RIGHT TACKLE Jack Conklin (1st Round, 8th Overall)
Positives: The first of Tennessee Titans general manager Jon Robinson’s two in-draft trades during the 2016 NFL Draft came on day one, when he sent a first, second, and fourth round pick to the Cleveland Browns in exchange for the 8th overall pick of the draft. Despite the fact that top-notch tackle prospect Laremy Tunsil was still on the board, the Titans pulled a bit of a shocker and selected Michigan State’s Jack Conklin instead.
Pegged as a physically dominating run blocker who shut down fellow first round picks Joey Bosa and DeForest Buckner while in college, Conklin was clearly drafted to be the Titans franchise right tackle and join Taylor Lewan to form one of the NFL’s most powerful duo of bookend tackles. That’s precisely what happened.
During a rookie campaign that earned him AP First Team All-Pro honors, Conklin helped pave the way for one of the NFL’s fiercest rushing attacks, receiving Pro Football Focus’ highest grade for a right tackle in the process. He also consistently rose to his level of competition, handling top tier edge rushers such as Von Miller and Khalil Mack. Jon Robinson’s first draft pick was a home run.
Negatives: It’s hard to find a negative without sounding picky when a first round draft pick is named an All-Pro in his freshman season in the NFL. However, to call Conklin a stalwart is perhaps jumping the gun a bit. Conklin was rarely isolated in pass protection in 2016, often receiving help from a tight end or back. This is pretty understandable, though, as he was only a rookie. Look for Conklin to have more responsibility in the passing game next year.