The Tennessee Titans still have needs to address in the 2020 NFL Draft and trade up to get their guy in this post-free agency 7-round mock draft.
The Tennessee Titans have been surprisingly quiet thus far in 2020 NFL free agency, only agreeing to terms with three players who donned different jerseys last season. Considering the team was only a solid half of football away from their first Super Bowl appearance in over 20 years this past season, you’d think general manager Jon Robinson would have chosen to have been maybe a little more aggressive this offseason.
Signing special teams ace Nick Dzubnar and backup/swing tackle Ty Sambrailo were fine under-the-radar moves. The addition of veteran pass rusher Vic Beasley Jr. also riskily addresses a major need for the team. But the rest of their work has been re-signing their own, most notably locking up Ryan Tannehill to a four-year deal and franchise tagging Derrick Henry.
While the Titans may still be gearing up to add a big-name free agent, Robinson and the rest of the front office would be naive to rest on their laurels with how the roster is currently constructed.
Since taking over the personnel duties for Tennessee, Robinson has been anything but stagnant when it comes to the NFL Draft. His first draft in charge in 2016, he dealt the number one overall pick for a king’s ransom of picks and has continued to be active in every draft since. When looking at what the Titans will do come late April, that’s important to keep in mind.
The pass rush is the biggest need to address but cornerback, offensive line, running back and speed at wide receiver are all key to address in the 2020 NFL Draft. Even if there are veteran additions to come, it’s crucial the Titans add an influx of younger, cheaper talent. And that’s the goal in this 7-round mock draft after the first wave of free agency.
ED YETUR GROSS-MATOS
Round 1 Pick 21
Penn State Nittany Lions
Trade Alert: Titans trade No. 29, 93 and 2021 late-round pick to Eagles for No. 21 and 103
Jon Robinson and Philadelphia Eagles general manager Howie Roseman have done business together in the past and continue to do so to get things started in this 7-round mock draft.
In this scenario, “Trader Jon” doesn’t want to risk missing out one of the most talented defensive linemen in this 2020 draft class who’s falling down the draft boards. Subsequently, he moves up eight spots in a deal with the Eagles. The trade involves the two teams swapping first- and third-round picks with Philadelphia receiving an extra late-round pick next year.
After Robinson decided to deal star defensive lineman Jurrell Casey to the Denver Broncos in a pure salary dump move, he needs to get more firepower on the defensive line. Moving Jeffery Simmons into Casey’s role, he now gets Yetur Gross-Matos.
Coming out of Penn State, Gross-Matos was able to tally a total of 9.5 sacks this year after racking up eight the year prior. Gross-Matos gives the Titans a potential playmaker on the defensive line, where they desperately need it.
Head coach Mike Vrabel will be salivating to get his hands on Gross-Matos, who possesses the rare combination of prototypical size (6-5, 270 pounds) and absolutely freakish athleticism and flexibility.
RB JK DOBBINS
Round 2 Pick 61
Ohio State Buckeyes
The NFL as a whole has had some bad luck when it comes to hefty running back contracts, meaning Robinson made the smart move tagging Henry. While he gets a solid pay-day, it allows the team flexibility moving forward with no commitment past 2020. If Henry does it again then great, pay the man — but it protects the team if he begins to show some wear and tear.
Continuing to dive into the Big Ten talent pool, JK Dobbins is the pick in the second round. That’s the same round Robinson selected Henry in 2016. At the time, Tennessee had DeMarco Murray on the roster but added a stud in the draft. They do the same here.
Dobbins won’t amaze people with his speed or his open-field moves for that matter. What the Ohio State product does give the team is another bruising, one-cut back who is still athletic enough to make the big play. Coming off of a 2,000-yard season, Dobbins can either help prolong the career of Derrick Henry by splitting carries- or become his eventual replacement after 2020.
QB JALEN HURTS
Round 3 Pick 103
Pick via Eagles
As a part of the earlier trade, the Titans are picking a little later in the third round than originally scheduled. This is the only selection where the idea of “win now” is thrown out of the window for a methodical selection that can not only pay dividends now but down the line as well.
Selecting Jalen Hurts would be an extremely polarizing move in the eyes of fans. The team just committed to Tannehill on a four-year, $118 million deal and, with the Titans being so close to making it to the Super Bowl, shouldn’t every opportunity to add to this team be for them to win now, not years down the line?
What must not be forgotten is Tannehill’s lengthy list of injuries before joining the Titans. If history were to repeat itself, the team only has one other option on the roster: Logan Woodside. Obviously, the best-case scenario here would be for Tannehill to stay healthy while prepping Hurts to become the eventual starter or even a prime trade chip down the line.
WR QUEZ WATKINS
Round 5 Pick 161
Trade Alert: Titans trade No. 175, 225 and 238 to Buccaneers for No. 161
In the fifth round, Robinson gets aggressive again as he trades up with the Buccaneers to select the speedy pass-catcher out of Southern Miss, Quez Watkins. To do so, he gives up his own fifth-round pick while also parting with a pair of seventh-round selections as well.
Throughout his college career with the Golden Eagles, Watkins tore up the competition, particularly in his final two years. Earning back-to-back All-Conference-USA honors, the 6-0 wide receiver had 55 catches for 1,024 yards and five scores in 2019 after going for 72 receptions, 889 yards and nine touchdowns in 2018.
Robinson loves production from small-school receivers, as he saw with Tajae Sharpe previously. Thus, making a late-round move up for Watkins would make sense.
CB L’JARIUS SNEED
Round 7 Pick 243
Louisiana Tech Bulldogs
Assuming the Titans and current free agent cornerback Logan Ryan can work out a deal to reunite in the coming weeks, the need at the position will be for depth only entering the draft. But with the team losing valuable backup corner LeShaun Sims to the Cincinnati Bengals in free agency, the need for someone to step into that role is pivotal.
L’Jarius Sneed is a defensive back who possesses adequate size and strength with good ball skills, securing multiple interceptions for touchdowns during his collegiate career. Sneed also has experience at both corner and safety, which is the kind of versatility Robinson loves to have when it comes to the depth players on the roster. He may never amount to being a consistent presence in the starting lineup but there are certainly worst options out there to have as a seventh-rounder.