Titans wrap quiet NFL draft with more roster moves to come
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Titans made only one trade throughout the NFL draft, and general manager Jon Robinson’s move came in the final round for a sixth-rounder in 2021.
A drama-free draft for a team with no big holes to fill coming off an unexpected run to the AFC championship game.
General manager Jon Robinson said that’s the identity for a franchise now with four straight 9-7 seasons.
“We roll our sleeves up and we go to work, and we’re not looking for flash or any of that ...,” Robinson said Saturday night. “We’ve got an awesome thing going.”
The Titans took their 6-foot-6, 350-pound right tackle of the future in Isaiah Wilson of Georgia at No. 29 overall, and hope they added a cornerback who can start this season in Kristian Fulton of LSU at No. 61 in the second. Robinson split his six selections evenly between offense and defense.
Appalachian State running back Darrynton Evans is the new backup to NFL rushing leader Derrick Henry, while Cole McDonald of Hawaii was a seventh-round pick to compete with Logan Woodside to back up Ryan Tannehill, who earned himself a four-year deal worth $118 million after leading the NFL in passer rating.
Tennessee also added depth to the defensive line selecting Larrell Murchison of North Carolina State in the fifth round, and defensive back Chris Jackson of Marshall capped their draft at No. 243 overall in the seventh.
INTEREST IN CLOWNEY
Robinson has not shied away from expressing the Titans’ interest in at least talking with defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, still on the free agent market.
Asked if the potential of signing Clowney influenced the Titans in the draft, Robinson said they looked at some edge rushers without taking any.
“The roster-building process is never over,” Robinson said. “We’ll continue to look at guys that are available in the post-draft process, these rookies that did not get drafted, as well as some veteran guys that are still out there.”
The Titans waited until No. 61 overall to take cornerback Kristian Fulton out of LSU, but he’ll likely get the first chance to replace veteran Logan Ryan who’s currently a free agent after starting every game the past three seasons with Tennessee. Ryan handled the slot, and Fulton said how he felt about playing inside was one of the first questions the Titans asked him.
HENRY’S NEW BACKUP
The Titans found themselves an upgrade as Henry’s new backup in Evans after releasing Dion Lewis in March. The Florida native who ran the 100 in high school went to Appalachian State as an athlete playing receiver who switched to running back. Evans also brings more speed to the backfield as the second-fastest running back at the NFL combine running the 40-yard dash in 4.41 seconds.
He has another skill that will appeal much more to Vrabel: No fumbles in 482 career carries — a school record. Evans also can be an option on special teams having returned three kickoffs for touchdowns.
DEFENSIVE LINE BOLSTERED
Not having a pick in the fourth round because of the March 2019 trade for Tannehill meant the Titans had to wait until near the end of the fifth round before adding Murchison of North Carolina State with the No. 174 pick overall.
The Titans traded away five-time defensive lineman Jurrell Casey in March for a seventh-round pick. That left them needing more depth there with only recent veteran signee Jack Crawford and Isaiah Mack, an undrafted free agent a year ago, behind Jeffery Simmons and DaQuan Jones. Murchison had seven sacks and 12 tackles for loss last season playing across the line.
The man nicknamed “Trader Jon” couldn’t get through this draft without one move. He traded the 23rd pick in the seventh round, the one they got in March from Denver for Casey, to Kansas City for the Chiefs’ sixth-rounder in 2021. The Titans finished with six picks for a second straight draft, but Robinson said they should have at least eight in 2021.
Robinson said they agreed to terms with Missouri kicker Tucker McCann as an undrafted free agent to compete with Greg Joseph. That’s what the Titans didn’t do last year expecting veteran Ryan Succop to be healthy for the season. Instead, Joseph was the fifth and final kicker for a team that had the NFL’s worst field goal unit converting a mere 44.4%, and Succop was released in March.
Joseph made only one field goal in the AFC championship loss after the Titans went four straight games without a field goal.
Follow Teresa M. Walker at https://twitter.com/TeresaMWalker
More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL