A lot of NFL trades happen during the draft. The Rams and Titans, however, didn’t see much sense in waiting.
Indeed, the two franchises pulled off a blockbuster trade weeks before either team was on the clock.
“Les (Snead) and I talked about it back and forth, and we didn’t really put a hard time table on it, but we thought it was in the best interest of both of our teams to move on it sooner rather than waiting until we got on the clock,” Titans general manager Jon Robinson said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “That way we could make some preparations. They were planning some private workouts and some visits to players. We were doing the same on our end and we just knew that the pool of players that we were selecting from, we were going to have a lot more picks. We had cast our net a little bit wide initially in March and the early part of April in anticipation that we might be able to move the pick, but we kind of broadened it a little bit more during those last two weeks and spent time with a couple more guys we thought we would be able to target with the extra picks we were able to pick up.”
The Rams, of course, took Jared Goff with the first pick, while the Titans took Jack Conklin eighth overall – five spots ahead of the highly touted Laremy Tunsil, who went 13th to Miami.
“We liked both players,” Robinson said. “We thought both were really talented players. Both blocked good players in their respective conferences, played at a high level, and in the end, we thought Jack kind of fit what we were going to be as a football team. He does a nice job on film, as did Laremy. In the end, we thought Jack was the best fit for us.”
Conklin will be asked to open up holes for Derrick Henry, who will join fellow Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota in the backfield. Henry was taken in the second round (45th overall).
And yes, free agent signee DeMarco Murray was okay with that.
“I think our relationship with DeMarco is a really, really good one,” Robinson said. “He sees what we’re trying to do here. He feels the vision and the scope that the team is trying to be. I think he intrinsically trusts us with the decisions to do what’s best for the team. I think Mike (Mularkey) had reached out to him after drafting (Henry) and told him our thought process and how he was still going to be one of our lead guys and a workhorse we’re going to lean on. Derrick was going to help shoulder that load so we didn’t have to hand it to (Murray) 50 times. He could come off and get some oxygen and get a sip of water occasionally. I think it was really more of a reassurance. There was never any doubt or questioning from DeMarco’s standpoint.”
Either way, the Titans should be vastly improved from the franchise that went 3-13 in 2015 and 2-14 in 2014.
“I’ve had several conversations with a lot of players on this football team and talked about how we are expecting them to raise their level of performance,” Robinson said. “I think they see that in themselves, too. In order for us to take the step to where we want to be, the pressure is on those guys to up the ante a little bit and bring a little more to the table on Sundays.”
Robinson was asked about the expectations in Tennessee.
“Go out and compete for 60 minutes and (play) tough Titan football,” he said. “That’s what we’re asking of our guys. I’m not a prognosticator, I’m not a gridiron guru of wins and losses. I just want us to go out and play tough football for 60 minutes. If we play like we’re capable of playing, I think we got a chance of stacking up a few wins.”