The NFL Draft is now less than two weeks away, and Tennesee Titans general manager Jon Robinson, his scouts and the coaching staff have all been busy trying to gather as much information as possible on 2021 draft prospects.
Because of Covid restrictions, that job is again made a little more difficult this off-season, and Robinson and his crew must be more careful and prudent in the selection process this season than they were in 2020.
The Titans have plenty of holes still to fill on the roster at a variety of positions. The roster is currently thin at wide receiver, tight end and right tackle on offense. Meanwhile, over on the defensive side of the ball, the Titans have few numbers at cornerback and safety in the secondary, and also could use more depth at outside linebacker and defensive line as well.
But basically what the Titans need more than anything from this year's draft class – regardless of position – is availability and production – something they got very little of from the 2020 draft class.
The Titans can start, of course, by not spending their first-round pick on a 330-pound wannabe rapper who masqueraded long enough as a right tackle to get chosen and signed. After that, Wilson's interest in pro football and in even simple requirements like staying interested and in shape waned, leading to a number off-field issues, and eventually a dump trade to the Miami Dolphins, where he lasted for less than a week.
You can bet that whoever the Titans select with their first choice this year, the scouts and front office will have done a much better job of evaluating them personality-wise – even with the limitations and restrictions foisted upon teams by the league due to Covid.
Even as 2021 rolls around and the Titans are working to bring in a new class of prospects, Robinson and Mike Vrabel are still hopeful that the 2020 class won't be a total loss.
Kristian Fulton, the second-round pick, is projected to be one of the team's top three cornerbacks after the releases of Malcolm Butler and Adoree' Jackson. Fulton was limited to just six games as a rookie due to injuries.
The same thing happened to third-rounder Darrynton Evans, whose hamstring issues plagued him for most of the season and prevented him from being Derrick Henry's top understudy. Evans got into only five games in 2020, but if he can stay healthy, should emerge as a receiving outlet out of the backfield and the team's primary kickoff returner.
Beyond those two, the lack of an off-season program and preseason stunted the growth of late-round projects like Larrell Murchison and Chris Jackson. Murchison played in 10 games a year ago, and Jackson got into 11, but both were healthy scratches multiple times late in the year. Both of them come back in 2021, essentially just a smidgen ahead of the incoming rookies as they try to make up for lost time.
As the Titans try to avoid the mistakes and pitfalls of 2020 in the 2021 draft, they are still hopeful that the four players from 2020, plus undrafted who made the roster in receiver Nick Westbrook, defensive tackle Teair Tart and offensive lineman Aaron Brewer can also help salvage something from a year ago.
So as you watch who the Titans select in this year's draft, it will also be interesting to monitor the progress of last year's class to see exactly who can step forward and find a role this year and beyond.