Tennessee Titans free agency maneuvers created draft flexibility

NASHVILLE, TN - DECEMBER 31:Tennessee Titans fans cheer after a play against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Nissan Stadium on December 31, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - DECEMBER 31:Tennessee Titans fans cheer after a play against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Nissan Stadium on December 31, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images) /

Tennessee Titans GM Jon Robinson and HC Mike Vrabel have been making moves in a quest to find “the right 53”. Thus far, the moves have provided flexibility in the upcoming NFL Draft.

So far in free agency, the Tennessee Titans have elected to keep some familiar faces, said farewell to a pair of fan-favorites, cut an errant signing from last year, added some competition and inked two key players that will have an immediate impact.

GM Jon Robinson and HC Mike Vrabel have a plan.

Keeping G Josh Kline and tendering G Quinton Spain initially sent the message that the Titans were comfortable with their interior offensive line. Now, having signed G Xavier Su’a Filo and G Kevin Pamphile, it appears there will be a battle in the trenches to ensure that the best-quality offensive line which provides safety and works well in the new offensive scheme will be the product put on the field. It also reduced the urge to take an interior lineman in the early rounds.

Adding QB Blaine Gabbert, a former first round selection, ensured the team had a backup with enough mobility to step in and give the team a chance to win Marcus Mariota-less games. The obvious hope is that Gabbert won’t see the field unless the Titans are blowing teams out.

Adding Gabbert enables the Titans to–again–avoid the urge to spend a late draft pick on a developmental project that most certainly would be less likely to step in and keep the team afloat. Gabbert hasn’t had the career most first round selections are supposed to have, but the Titans’ offensive line will be arguably the best he’s ever played behind if his number is called.

Tennessee lost out on signing DT Ndamukong Suh. However, the team is still in good shape. Adding Suh was a luxury, rather than a need. It’s possible for the Titans to still pursue a true anchor in the middle. The popular name that would fit nicely is NT Johnathan Hankins, who has a history with Vrabel. Whether or not Hankins inks with the team is uncertain, but it is not a pressing need, even with the departure of DLs Karl Klug and Sylvester Williams.

Ex-Patriots CB Malcolm Butler and RB Dion Lewis were day one bombshell signings. Each provided the team with immediate upgrades. Butler solidifies the secondary by bringing a gritty, physical presence to the outside. DC Dean Pees will have more flexibility in rotating his corners as Butler, Logan Ryan and Adoree’ Jackson all have the ability to perform in different spots at a high level.

More from Titan Sized

Lewis adds a deadliness to the backfield. He provides Mariota with a check-down option that defenses will be forced to respect. His prowess in the passing game will also allow for OC Matt LaFleur to utilize Lewis as a receiver with RB Derrick Henry adding a running threat in the backfield.

Both Butler and Lewis know what it takes to win a championship and what it takes to be habitual contenders. This will definitely help a Titans team striving to achieve the same.

The Titans head into the draft with a lot more wiggle room largely due to the moves they’ve already made in free agency thus far.

Losing LB Avery Williamson should be viewed as losing a starter that was prominent in stuffing the run but somewhat of a liability in coverage. The Titans have already been in contact with LB Will Compton, but even if he is acquired, I would expect it to be in the same fashion as LB Erik Walden was last season, which is after the draft.

The Titans, at least at this point, head into the draft with a centralized focus on adding pass rusher(s) and linebacker(s). The team is not pressured into drafting one of the top interior linemen, a project backup for Mariota or hope that a rookie defensive back can have similar success that Jackson had.

Trust the process and trust in Jon Robinson.