The Tennessee Titans are going to have a busy weekend as they interview the first wave of GM candidates, and on Friday they are interviewing Ran Carthon who is the Director of Player Personnel for the San Francisco 49ers.
Like most of the Titans’ GM candidates, Carthon has a background as a former NFL player. He was a UDFA out of Florida that spent a few years in the league as a running back before hanging the cleats up and grabbing a clipboard.
Just so that you can familiarize yourself with Carthon’s post-playing career, here are the front-office jobs that he has had since he transitioned from a player to a scout:
-4 years as a pro scout for the Arizona Cardinals
-5 years as the Director of Player Personnel for the Rams
-5 years as the Director of Pro Personnel for the 49ers
-2 years as the Director of Player Personnel for the 49ers
Thanks to the description on the 49ers page, we can figure out exactly what the definitions for those jobs are.
The bulk of his time with the 49ers has been spent dealing with bringing players into the organization that were already in the NFL. Whether that means free agency, trades, waiver claims, etc. his time was spent scouting what players looked like after the draft.
However, he was promoted two years ago and since then he has been in charge of everything. His job was to gather information on current NFL players and draft prospects and to give suggestions to the GM on what the best plan of action would be.
When you look at what the 49ers have done over since 2017 the team has become a model of consistency. Rarely do they let talent walk out of their building and they have taken risks (trading up for Trey Lance) while also knowing how to build depth in case those risks go wrong.
He has plenty of experience in key front office positions and he has worked for a team that has consistently made more right moves than wrong ones. However, there is one question that he has to answer to make Amy Adams Strunk and Mike Vrabel feel comfortable.
Will Ran Carthon actually be able to improve Tennessee Titans’ drafts?
Free agency was hit or miss with Jon Robinson as the GM, but for the most part, his draft classes were filled with hits.
We can argue about whether he should have kept certain players like Jack Conklin, Corey Davis, Adoree Jackson, etc. but finding talent at the collegiate level was rarely a problem. However, the 2020 and 2021 draft classes were clearly not great for the Tennessee Titans.
Now, there were some things to like about those classes.
They walked away with starting caliber players like Kristian Fulton, Teair Tart, Rashad Weaver, Elijah Molden, and Monty Rice. Coaches also ended up infatuated with some players in that class which is why we have seen Nick Westbrook-Ikine and Aaron Brewer start several games.
The classes probably would have looked better if there was a better coaching staff in place that had focused more on developing players like Dillon Radunz and Racey McMath, but that isn’t the discussion today.
What those classes lacked was top-end talent in the first round. Is that something that Ran Carthon has the resume to handle? On paper, it is fair to say that it is a big question mark.
He has spent the bulk of his career scouting and dealing with players that have already entered the NFL. While he might do a better job at keeping guys like Jeffery Simmons, Nate Davis, David Long, etc. nothing in his history suggests that he can find those blue-chip guys in the first round.
Now to be fair, there isn’t anything to say that he can’t find them because we don’t know how much input he had in draft classes. However, due to the timing of his promotion, the only things we can go off of are the picks made by his GM during the times when he was the Director of Player Personnel with the 49ers and the Rams.
Those 1st round picks look like this:
2013: Tavon Austin, WR
2014: Greg Robinson, OT
2014: Aaron Donald, DT
2015: Todd Gurley, RB
2016: Jared Goff, QB
2021: Trey Lance, QB
2022: None (traded for Trey Lance)
As a whole, I don’t really think that is any better than what the Titans have had in recent history. Don’t get me wrong, Aaron Donald is one of the best players of all time but that isn’t how that front office had him graded. You don’t take points off because Donald was their second pick in the first round, but you have to know that they didn’t have any clue how great he was, and if they didn’t have a second pick in the top 13 of that draft then he isn’t a Ram.
Another issue here is that none of these players were drafted outside of the top 13 picks. Even though Aaron Donald, Todd Gurley, and Jared Goff all ended up going to the Pro Bowl, it is a lot easier to hit have a 40% hit rate on Pro Bowlers when you always draft in the top half of the first round.
With all of that said, I think that Carthon comes from a front office that the Tennessee Titans want to emulate with cooperation and collaboration being a big part of their success. Much like Mike Vrabel, I believe that Carthon could make the right choice more often than not as long as he had competent people around him to collaborate with.
If there is a front office version of Todd Downing helping him evaluate draft classes, I don’t know that he has a strong enough understanding of scouting to recognize that and rise above bad information.
The Tennessee Titans must ask Carthon about this and figure out if that is something that he can overcome with this franchise.