Assessing three years of Jon Robinson trades

TicketsBar2NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Jon Robinson has made 13 trades involving draft picks in his three years on the job, from the massive deal involving the 2016 No 1 pick to a seventh-round condition pick exchanges for a back end defensive linemen.

He’s remarkably unafraid to go up or down in the draft to get what he wants or to back out when he’s not in love with something.

Titans logofenceLast week he dealt up three times, turning six picks into four, but coming away with three players he coveted and a fourth he felt was too good to pass up.

Determining winners and losers in trades isn’t easy, particularly with a short turn around.

But I think he was 5-0 in 2016 in deals that netted him DeMarco Murray, Austin Johnson, Derrick Henry, Corey Davis, Jonnu Smith, Dennis Kelly, Jack Conklin, LeShaun Sims and Kalan Reed.

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Under Jon Robinson, back end of Titans' nickel defense has been completely revamped

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – With an archaic offense over the last few years, the Titans were late to the modern NFL trend.

It’s all about 11 personnel. That’s three-wide.

The Titans aren’t going to jump from 44 percent (the second least frequent use of the personnel) to the league-high 81 percent the Rams used. But Matt LaFleur came from the Los Angeles and seems highly likely to pull the Titans close to the NFL average of 59 percent, if not beyond it.ByardOAK

Defenses face a special challenge when they are trying to stop Delanie Walker, and they’ll face more of that in the passing game against Dion Lewis. But those two can be on the field and the Titans can be in three-wide all at the same time.

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What the Titans depth chart looks like now

TitansHelmetLeftNASHVILLE, Tenn. -- With the Titans’ four-man draft class complete, here’s the depth chart for the offense and defense I sketched out.

I went with a base three-wide offense and with a nickel defense, the sets I think we will see the Titans in the most. In a base defense, one of the three corners would be off the field and Austin Johnson or Bennie Logan would work as the nose tackle.

We are unlikely to see the Titans first unofficial depth chart much before their first preseason game Aug. 9 in Green Bay. But when the hit the field in late July for public training camp practices, we'll know publicly how they are lining up.

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YAZOO PODCAST: Given the inexact science of the draft, was the Titans' targeted draft a smart play?

YAZOO podcast stripeNASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Titans only got a four-man draft class, but it's a four-man draft class they really love -- particularly the top two guys.

Pk Pod 2In the post-draft edition of the Paul Kuharsky Podcast, I hash through if it's a good idea to run such a targeted draft when time has shown, given the NFL's hit rate, it's typically best to have and use as many picks as possible.

In Rashaan Evans and Harold Landry, the Titans certainly got two first-round-caliber guys who fill their two biggest needs at inside linebacker and at pass-rushing outside linebacker.

Part 1, like podcast versions of my public Periscope and Facebook Lives, is available through iTunes, here, or directly through the Vokal website, here. Feel free to hook us up with a rating and review on iTunes.

I always welcome your feedback.

If you're a member of the site, Part 1 and Part 2 are together, and all you have to do is head below the line.

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Jon Robinson's third draft tells us he didn't think players were responsible for 2017 offensive woes

TicketsBar2NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Over and over after shedding Mike Mularkey, Jon Robinson talked of how the Titans failed to maximize the talents of their players in 2017, when they won a playoff game but felt very much like a team that rarely played to its potential.

That’s what prompted the franchise to move away from Mularkey, Terry Robiskie and the vast majority of the staff despite a second consecutive 9-7 season, despite the playoff upset in Kansas City.TitansCards

In free agency, the Titans added only one major piece on offense, running back Dion Lewis. While he will have a big role, he may not qualify as a starter.

Beyond that, the veteran additions were depth pieces: backup quarterback Blaine Gabbert, offensive linemen Xavier Su’a-Filo and Kevin Pamphile, low-ranking wide receiver Michael Campanaro.

And now, with two trades up that pared the Titans down to just four picks, the team spent only one on offense. Luke Falk is in line to be a developmental third-string quarterback.

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TicketsBar2NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Regular-season practice snaps will be limited for Luke Falk as a rookie.

Falk1Marcus Mariota is going to get as many as he can in Matt LaFleur’s new offense while new veteran backup Blaine Gabbert is likely to run the scout team and step into a game if Mariota goes down.

So spending the 199th pick in the 2018 draft on Washington State quarterback Luke Falk dictates the Titans be patient.

It's the same draft slot that will forever be connected to Tom Brady.

Falk said LaFleur traveled to Logan, Utah to work him out.

"I'm not going to lie, it was a pretty grueling process... I expected to get off the board a little earlier," he said. "I think I am one of the most accurate guys, really elevate the guys around me. ...I'm a winner."

(Photo courtesy of Washington State.)

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TicketsBar2NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Titans filled the biggest hole on their depth chart with Arizona safety Dane Cruikshank, who should be slotted as the team’s No. 3 safety once he gets involved in the system.Cruikshank1

The Titans used one of their 30 prospects visits on Cruikshank, who picked off both Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen playing for the Wildcats. He said he made a lot of big plays and that those were only two of them.

Cruikshank is 6-foot-1, 201 pounds and ran a strong 4.41 and looks have qualities that make him versatile enough to play as a strong safety or a free safety.

(Photo courtesy Arizona.)

“Whatever they need me to play, I'll play,” he said. “I can play in the box, I can run to the post."

The Titans will list him as a “DB.”

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Two trades up put Titans on 121-pick hold, suggest comfort level with overall roster

TicketsBar2NASHVILLE, Tenn. – But dealing up for Rashaan Evans in the first round and dealing up for Harold Landry in the second round, Jon Robinson told us how he feels about those two players.

“Can’t be more excited about the two guys that we’ve added over the last two days,” Robinson said.

He also told us that he feels pretty good about the backend depth of the roster, where he won’t have a lot of kids running around this summer with only three more picks in the draft.RobinsonVrabelLaughDraft

To secure Evans and Landry, Robinson deemed it worth watching things unfold for a span of 121 picks stretching from Friday night to Saturday afternoon, from the 41st pick (in the second round) to the 162nd  pick in the fifth.

And while he patched the biggest holes and fortified the defense, he left himself at least two trouble spots, where the Titans will look for a late pick or undrafted to break through or where they will need to shop the second- or third-stage free-agent market.

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