Tennessee Titans GM Ran Carthon will NOT trade down in the 2024 NFL Draft

Cincinnati Bengals v Tennessee Titans
Cincinnati Bengals v Tennessee Titans / Wesley Hitt/GettyImages

In a vacuum, trading down at the top of the NFL draft is a smart move because it gives a front office more bites of the apple. However, trading down isn't such a no-brainer in the real world and that is something that Tennessee Titans GM, Ran Carthon, knows well.

To understand why Carthon might be against trading down at the top of the draft, you have to go back and look at his path to becoming an NFL GM.

Carthon quickly rose through the scouting ranks and went from being a first-time area scout in 2008 to being the Director of Player Personnel for the St. Louis Rams in 2012. After that meteoric rise, Carthon held a director of personnel role for the next decade between his time with the Rams and the San Francisco 49ers before taking the Tennessee Titans GM job in 2023.

During his time as a high-ranking front office member, he was a part of 13 NFL Drafts. Even though he was never the biggest draft-centric voice in the room, Carthon was always a part of the roster-building process.

These experiences must have had an impact on his development and if he is smart he took lessons from the draft process. As the fan base continues to get to know what Ran Carthon the GM looks like, it is important to look at these experiences and notice any trends that might stand out.

One trend that feels important for Tennessee Titans fans this year has to deal with trades. Through 13 draft classes, Ran Carthon's team only traded down from their first pick three times and the order of those trades is crucial.

The first trade-down of his career was in his first season as a prominent member of the St. Louis Rams, and it just so happened to be the infamous RG3 trade.

This was a massive deal where the Rams turned that one pick into eight players. The only problem is that none of those eight players turned out to be needle movers for the Rams. By going quantity over quality, they won the trade on paper, but it didn't actually make the Rams better on the field and they never had a winning season while Carthon was on the staff.

That trade-down was a failure that eventually led to everyone being fired because they couldn't rise above mediocrity.

The other two trade downs came in the 2017 NFL Draft and the 2020 NFL Draft when Carthon was with the 49ers, and those trades were much different. Both of those trades were situations where the team only traded down one spot because they knew who the team behind them wanted and they were compensated in exchange for not trading that pick to a team that might have taken their guy.

Those trades were excellent and regardless of whether the player they drafted was a hit or not, they got compensated for a trade down that didn't change their draft plan at all which is like finding free money on the ground.

What does that tell us about the Tennessee Titans?

Every draft is different, but Ran Carthon should have learned a lesson that transcends individual draft classes. That lesson is that it is very risky to pass up on blue-chip talent in exchange for depth. On the other hand, small trade-downs that don't affect your draft plans are fantastic.

This brings up an interesting quote from Carthon during the 2023 NFL Draft process.

In the pre-draft press conference, Carthon described why you want to get "blue players" (or blue-chip players) when you pick high in the draft because the expectation has to be that you won't pick that high again. After all, the team has to improve or you get fired.

Last year I tried to figure out which of the blue-chip players would make it to the 11th pick and all signs pointed to Peter Skoronski being the selection.

If the goal is to add blue players when you get the chance, and Ran Carthon's experience has shown him that making a big trade-down is a great way to miss out on blue players, then common sense says that it will take a king's ransom to convince him to trade down in the 1st round this year. If they don't get that, then expect the pick to be in quickly on Thursday night.