Here’s a need versus talent debate from the Tennessee Titans’ perspective.
Drafting for need in the early rounds has been a staple of Robinson’s draft classes. In 2016, one season after allowing the most sacks in the NFL, Tennessee traded down, and then back up, to draft Conklin to play tackle.
In 2017, it was Davis and Jackson addressing the team needs. On the Titans’ 25th-ranked passing offense that year, just one wide receiver had more than 550 yards receiving over the 16-game season. On the defensive side of the ball, Tennessee was getting torched through the air, allowing the third-most passing yards in the NFL that year.
The list goes on. Evans was selected in 2018 after the Titans parted ways with Avery Williamson. He was their second-leading tackler in 2017 and the team’s four-year starter at inside linebacker. Simmons addressed a long-standing need on the defensive line of scrimmage while Wilson came in to replace Conklin (well, at least in theory).
Of course, that’s not to say that Robinson hasn’t drafted based on potential in the past. As a matter of fact, his last two first-round picks were seen as gambles that could have evolved into stars if they panned out the right way, but after a swing and a miss on an unrefined player in 2020, Robinson might go back to his roots of drafting long-time, established, plug-and-play athletes who plat at positions of need.
Robinson has taken a risk on a player as young as a redshirt sophomore just one time. That was the Wilson pick. Davis, Evans, and Conklin, were each with their teams for at least four years, while Simmons and Jackson were true juniors.
Okay. That was a lot, but it was important to state. With all of that in mind, let’s see if we can use that information to form a list of realistic candidates Robinson might use the 22nd selection on.