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The Titans Have a Chance Jump-Start Their Rebuild, But They Haven't Won the Rams Trade Yet

Jon Robinson's first big play as Titans GM is exactly what the doctor ordered for Tennessee's talent-bereft roster.
Photo by Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

After Thursday morning's blockbuster Rams-Titans trade, the sexy question is what the Rams will do with their new No. 1 overall pick. Should it be Cal's Jared Goff, the projection system favorite with incredible college stats? Or should it be North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz, the action figure with a cannon arm and little refinement?

Ultimately, though, there's not much of a story there. The die has been cast. It's poetic inasmuch as it brings the Rams full circle from the RG3 trade. It's also awkward, as Jeff Fisher's offense doesn't really feature the quarterback. But it's hard to paint the move as anything but rational: The Rams weren't getting anything out of Nick Foles or Case Keenum. They needed to take a real shot at a franchise quarterback.


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But I love this trade for the Tennessee Titans. General manager Jon Robinson had been having a quiet offseason outside of trading for DeMarco Murray, and his first big play is exactly what the doctor ordered for a talent-bereft roster.

The list of Titans whom you'd consider NFL difference-makers is small. For me, it's Marcus Mariota, Kendall Wright, Delanie Walker, Jurrell Casey, Brian Orakpo, and Derrick Morgan. And both Wright and Morgan are projections rather than players who dominated last season. In a situation like this, where a team has a potential franchise quarterback and a poor roster around him, the No. 1 pick has less value barring some kind of known J.J. Watt clone sitting at the top of the draft.

Robinson didn't get the three first-round picks that the Rams got for Robert Griffin, but he did extract a lot of value.

Titans get:
1st (15 overall)
2nd (43)
2nd (45)
3rd (76)
1st-rd pick in 2017
3rd-rd pick in 2017 Rams get:
1st (No. 1)
4th (113)
6th (177)

— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter)April 14, 2016

On pure draft value alone, whether you're using Jimmy Johnson's trade chart or Football Perspective's new-fangled one, the Titans win the trade. They win the trade by a lopsided amount with Football Perspective's numbers even if the Rams win the Super Bowl next year and the pick is 32nd overall.

Robinson is to be praised for the move, but trading for the draft picks is only half the battle. Now the Titans need to show the NFL world that they've done their scouting homework and are ready to capitalize on their newfound fortune. That means no more second-round picks on Justin Hunters and Bishop Sankeys. At the same time, Tennessee's quick turnaround means their old scouting staff is still in place. That doesn't mean that the Titans are going to pick the wrong players. It just means that Robinson may have to win some of these picks going on his gut.

Remember, the Rams seemed set to make a killing off the RGIII trade, but they used Washington's second overall pick on Greg Robinson, who has been a terrible tackle so far. They also traded up for Tavon Austin, who isn't an actual No. 1 receiver. Previous Browns regimes made a cottage industry out of logical draft trades, giving up Sammy Watkins, Julio Jones, and Trent Richardson in return for extra first-round picks. Those trades all looked good on paper, but Cleveland's scouting was so bad that they squandered every opportunity to benefit from them.

The Titans have put themselves in an excellent position here. I think this is a good draft to trade down in—depth is plentiful and they can fill a lot of needs. Most analysts projected the Titans to pick Ole Miss tackle Laremy Tunsil No. 1 overall. But with St. Louis' pick, they can find offensive line solutions with Notre Dame's Ronnie Stanley or Ohio State's Taylor Decker. With two extra second-round picks, the Titans could look to target their leaky secondary with a pick from this year's solid cornerback crop. I could also see them moving up and down the board trying to find another receiver to give Mariota extra weapons.

Tennessee got a major haul, but at the end of the day, they still have to nail the picks before we turn them into slam-dunk trade winners.