Tennessee Titans must be careful trading down in the 2023 NFL Draft

Tennessee Titans Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports
Tennessee Titans Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports /

If the Tennessee Titans want to draft a first-round talent that helps the offense, they need to understand the risk they are taking if they trade down.

Unless this is your first NFL Draft, you have probably heard draft analysts say that they have X number of first-round talents in a given class. No matter how good the draft class is, no analyst ever says that they have more than 32 first-round players because a player worth a first-round pick is someone who projects as a difference maker.

In this class, fewer players fit that description than normal.

Whether you agree with that or not, everyone should understand that even if there are 20 players that a draft analyst thinks is a first-round talent, that doesn’t take into account scheme fit, how well they interviewed with the coaches, work ethic, etc.

That is why the hit rate for teams in the second half of the first round is exponentially worse than the hit rate in the top-16. It sounds obvious when the draft is in front of you, but if you look at a prospect that gets drafted 10th and one that gets drafted 30th, both players are held to the same standard as “first-round picks” once the season starts, which is unfair.

According to Matt Miller’s final grades for the 2023 NFL Draft class, there are only 11 players on offense that carry first-round grades.

That brings me to the Tennessee Titans and what they are going to do with the 11th pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.

The Tennessee Titans have to avoid the trap of the “safe” trade-down

Let’s take the four most popular quarterbacks off of the board for a minute since it is possible, but unlikely that one will be there at 11. These are the seven offensive players that Miller has rated as first-round talents:

-Bijan Robinson RB, Texas

-Jaxon Smith-Njigba WR, Ohio State

-Peter Skoronski OT, Northwestern

-Broderick Jones OT, Georgia

-Paris Johnson Jr. OT, Ohio State

-Michael Mayer TE, Notre Dame

-Jordan Addison WR, USC

Let’s say the Seattle Seahawks want to move ahead of the Houston Texans for a defender and they send the 20th pick and the 52nd pick to the Tennessee Titans in exchange for the 11th pick.

At 20, I think it is fair to say that all three of the offensive tackles and Jaxon Smith-Njigba are all going to be gone. That leaves the Titans with Robinson, Mayer, and Addison.

Robinson is great, but he is a running back who is going to spend some of the most valuable years of his contract splitting carries with Derrick Henry.

Mayer would be a good addition that can get playing time early, but the list of tight ends drafted in the first round who are worth that draft pick is short, and none of them tested like average athletes (like Mayer did).

In theory, adding a receiver like Addison sounds like a good fit until you look at the player and not the position. He is a 5’11, 171 lb. pass catcher who ran a 4.49 40 that spent 60% of his snaps in the slot, which is not exactly a premium position in a run-heavy offense with a great pass-catching tight end.

If the Tennessee Titans stick with the 11th pick, they will probably have their choice of nearly all of those offensive tackles as well as JSN (and possibly a quarterback). On the other hand, if they trade down they need to make sure they are alright with reaching on an offensive player that isn’t a true first-round caliber prospect or adding one that isn’t a great fit.

Maybe the Day 2 pick they get in the deal will be worth it and it will add more talent to the Tennessee Titans roster, but everyone needs to get rid of the idea of a trade-down being a “safe bet” when it means missing out some really nice players.