Tennessee Titans draft: What Derrick Henry proves about Jon Robinson

Derrick Henry #22, Tennessee Titans (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
Derrick Henry #22, Tennessee Titans (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images) /

Heading into the 2021 NFL Draft, there’s a ton of buzz around the Tennessee Titans, as there should be. Ladies and gentlemen, we have a legitimate contender for AFC superiority.

After a 9-7 finish at the end of the 2019-2020 season, Tennessee found themselves in the AFC Championship Game after knocking off the greatest dynasty in the history of American sports, the New England Patriots in the Wild Card Round. Then, they took care of business versus that season’s top-seeded team, the Baltimore Ravens in the Divisional Round.

Ultimately and unfortunately, the Titans would finish their run with an 11-point loss to the eventual Super Bowl Champions (all of these games were on the road by the way). The 2020-2021 campaign ended with an 11-win season, but the Titans took a step backward in the NFL Playoffs. Tennessee was bested by those pesky Ravens, but there’s a reason for optimism as the page has been turned to 2021.

This year, there’s a chance that everything falls into place as the Tennessee Titans have to be favored as one of the favorites in the AFC South. Truthfully, they’re good enough to take the crown again. Everything begins with the coming NFL Draft though. Tennessee has nine picks, and Jon Robinson will be looking to add to an already stellar roster.

Here’s an interesting angle on the Tennessee Titans star tailback and G.M.

One of the encouraging things about the Tennessee Titans, from a fan’s standpoint, is much of the roster’s core is in place. They have the right coach. They have the right general manager. They have key pieces in place all over the roster, and oh yeah, they also have that Derrick Henry fella.

This draft is about adding the right guys at areas of need (wide receiver, cornerback, edge rusher, and right tackle), but it’s also about finding some depth. This team needs a backup option at running back as soon as possble.

Jon Robinson, no doubt, has all of this on his mind, but if you’re fearful of another draft bust in Round 1, don’t be. Expect your favorite team’s G.M. to nail the 22nd-overall selection if they don’t trade it, but you can expect him to add quality players in the second round as well as the mid to later rounds as well. That’s something that you should have learned by watching the aforementioned Derrick Henry over the course of the last five NFL seasons.

The Tennessee Titans gem continues to find valuable prospects after Round 1.

If you ever need to add credence to the old saying that the NFL no longer puts a premium on running backs, just bring up the fact that Derrick Henry was a second-round draft choice in 2016. It seems like he would have been a no-brainer in the first round, especially now, but nope, the Titans landed him at the 45th-overall selection.

Here’s what’s also crazy. Only one other tailback had been taken before the Tennessee Titans made one of the wisest moves in franchise history. That was the 2016 draft’s fourth-overall selection, Ezekiel Elliott of the Dallas Cowboys. Kenyan Drake would be the third running back taken by the Miami Dolphins in Round 3.

In five drafts as the Tennessee Titans general manager, Robinson has repeatedly found success after Round 1. In addition to Henry, he scored with Kevin Byard in the 2016 NFL Draft’s third round.

He also added Jonnu Smith in the third round of 2017’s selection meeting before adding Harold Landry and A.J. Brown in the second rounds of the 2018 and 2019 draft. To make long stories shorter, the guy does his homework.

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Keep this in mind as well. Kristian Fulton was a second-rounder in 2020. He missed a lot of his first season with injuries, but expect a breakout season from him in year two. He’ll be just fine.

All of this should place a smile on your face if you’re a Tennessee Titans fan. Again, there will be no first-round busts in 2021, but you can expect, as he’s done with A.J. Brown, Kevin Byard, and even with Amani Hooker, for Robinson to find gold in rounds two through seven as ell.