Could Jon Robinson make his first trade of this draft tonight?
Thanks to the trade that landed the Tennessee Titans All-Pro tackle Jack Conklin in the first round of last year’s draft, they are currently without a second round pick. However, as we all know, Jon Robinson likes to trade around. Here are three prospects remaining after day one that could prompt Robinson to trade for a second round pick.
3. CB Kevin King, Washington
In the NFL, you can never have enough good cornerbacks. When you don’t have enough of them, as seen through the Titans’ failures down the stretch last season, bad things happen.
The Titans selected Adoree’ Jackson of USC with their second pick of the first round, but that certainly does not rule out another cornerback joining the fold on day two. That second cornerback could come in the form of Washington’s Kevin King, should the Titans trade for a second round pick.
Though he is raw, King is an exceptional athlete and has the ability to be a truly special cornerback in the NFL. At 6’3″ and 200 pounds, King has size that you don’t often see from players at his position. Yet, he manages to maintain fluid hip movement and top notch speed, registering a 4.46 forty time at the combine.
Disappointingly, King does lack physicality in some areas of the game and needs to improve his tackling technique. Still, his instinctual soundness and outstanding athleticism will allow him to be a potentially dominant press, man coverage cornerback in any system.
In Jackson, the Titans drafted a small but versatile corner with good “mirroring” skills and the ability to make plays on the football and with the ball in his hands. In King, they would be getting a more physical player who could bring a sizable presence to the line of scrimmage in Dick LeBeau’s defense.
2. DE Jordan Willis, Kansas State
The Titans have a reliable core of edge rushers in Brian Orakpo, Derrick Morgan, and Kevin Dodd. However, as I noted when I addressed the Titans biggest pre-draft needs earlier in the week, the group lacks speed and burst. So why not take the opportunity to add Kansas State’s Jordan Willis, an edge rusher who really should have been a first round pick?
Willis has prototypical size, speed, and burst for an edge pass rusher in today’s NFL. Outside of the draft’s top two edge rushers, Myles Garrett (#1 to Cleveland) and Derek Barnett (#14 to Philadelphia), Willis is perhaps the surest bet of the draft’s pass rushers.
The big knock on Willis is the fact that he is a bit stiff in the hips and isn’t a “natural bender.” If his technique and athleticism leads him to success, those worries will be put to rest. As draft guru Nolan Nawrocki notes in his official draft guide, Willis “is wired to become a consistent double digit sack producer within a few years.”
What makes Willis a fit for the Titans is his character, which falls directly in line with Jon Robinson and Mike Mularkey’s philosophy of smart, coachable, and team first players. Willis was a team captain at Kansas State and truly loves the game of football. He fits the mold, and could certainly warrant a trade into the second round.
1. LB Zachary Cunningham, Vanderbilt
Moving into the second round to select Kevin King or Jordan Willis would make sense for Jon Robinson and the Titans, but Vanderbilt’s Zachary Cunningham could be the biggest attraction for a trade. The Titans defense needs a younger and faster inside linebacker with coverage ability, and Cunningham fits that role.
Cunningham is an athletic linebacker with the ability to run around the field and make plays both in coverage and in the running game. If he were to bulk up a bit, everything about his game would resemble that of Buccaneers All-Pro linebacker Lavonte David. Not that he would develop into that caliber of a player, but someone with Cunningham’s athleticism who can fly around and cover tight ends would be a great aid to the Titans’ defense.
As with Willis, Cunningham is a high character prospect. Nawrocki describes him as a “coachable, unselfish, team player.” If a talented player at a position of need with that kind of character doesn’t catch the attention of Jon Robinson, it’s hard to imagine that anything would.
For years, the Titans defense has been shredded in the passing game by running backs and tight ends. Moving back into the second round to select Cunningham would go a long way towards solving those problems, and keep aging veteran Wesley Woodyard from being forced to play as a three-down starter.