Tennessee Titans general manager Jon Robinson believes his football team got better over the last couple of days, and national pundits. The vast majority of experts agree.
Most came away from the 2021 NFL Draft mostly impressed with the Titans’ eight-player haul, which included three defensive backs, an inside linebacker, an edge rusher, an offensive lineman and two wide receivers.
Ahead of the draft, many believed Tennessee would focus on offense early, specifically at wide receiver and tight end. Ultimately, Robinson and coach Mike Vrabel mainly strengthened a defense, especially the secondary, that struggled in last season.
Everyone seems to agree that the Titans selected one of the, if not the best cornerbacks in the draft in first-round pick Caleb Farley (Virginia Tech). But his injury concerns certainly impacted some post-draft grades.
Overall, though, the consensus is that the Titans had a sold draft, filling holes with potential starters while adding depth pieces and special teams contributors.
“These guys that we selected this weekend, we loved watching those guys play football,” Robinson said. “We loved watching – putting the tape on and watching them do a job that we are now going to hire them to do. I think they are going to add value to the football team in their various roles, and they are about what we are about with their play style and their makeup.”
“Let’s be honest with ourselves. Part of this process involves teams stringing together a handful of players that we’ve heard a great deal about during the process, and the Titans’ draft seems to stand out in that we heard the term “first rounder” attached to more than one of their picks. More name recognition often results in a higher grade. I put this in a different category given the Titans took a calculated risk. Caleb Farley may end up being the best cornerback in this class, but dropped due to recent back surgeries. GM Jon Robinson said after the draft their medical vetting process was rigorous. The Titans were always going to go cornerback here and did a great deal of homework on the rest of the class. Their need at the position suggests that they would not take a flier on Farley if they weren’t confident in the return. Dillon Radunz is a promising offensive lineman who will step in and audition for the role left behind by Isaiah Wilson. But it may end up being Rashad Weaver who emerges as the darling of this class. The Titans secured the former Pitt star in the fourth round and, with so much uncertainty on the edge, could end up working his way into a regular role.”
“The Titans parted ways this offseason with cornerbacks Adoree’ Jackson, Desmond King II and Malcolm Butler, all of whom played a lot of snaps for them last season. They brought in Janoris Jenkins, but cornerback was still their biggest need. They got a great one in Caleb Farley (22), who is the best man-to-man cover guy in this class but dropped out of the top 20 because of a couple back injuries. Tennessee clearly felt OK with his medical re-checks, and he has a chance to be elite if he can stay healthy. But his career will make or break this class. I also liked the team taking Elijah Molden (100) in Round 3 because the 5-foot-9 corner could play as the nickelback early. He had five interceptions in 2019.”
USA Today: B+
“They don't seem to be garnering much national attention despite arguably procuring the draft's top cornerback late in Round 1 (Caleb Farley, who is recovering from back surgery), its top slot corner in Round 3 (Elijah Molden) while presumably – finally – stopping a revolving door at right tackle by getting Dillon Radunz in Round 2 a year after losing All-Pro Jack Conklin in free agency and then blowing a first-round choice on now-former Titan Isaiah Wilson.”
The Ringer: B
“Farley was set to be a top-10 pick before he suffered an injury and had recent back surgery. If the Virginia Tech star can return to form and remain healthy, he’ll go down as one of the biggest steals in this draft. The Radunz pick makes a ton of sense considering the Titans’ 2020 draft miss on Isaiah Wilson, while Molden represents incredible value in the third round. He’s an instinctive slot corner with excellent ball skills.”
“Farley’s injury history is troubling and will bear watching, but he has the ability to become a real playmaker on the outside if he can stay on the field. Radunz is a work in progress but was picked at the right point of the draft and fills a large need at right tackle, given the unceremonious departure of 2020 first-round pick Isaiah Wilson. Rice fits the Titans’ system well, and Molden was one of the steals of Day 2 -- he’ll be a playmaker. At his best, Fitzpatrick is worthy of an early fourth-round pick. Other available receivers may have provided better value, but addressing the position was essential for them, and there’s certainly a chance Fitzpatrick maximizes his potential. Depth on the edge was a crucial need for Tennessee, and Weaver looked like a likely mid-round pick throughout the 2020 season. McMath’s also an inconsistent receiver, but his special teams acumen (like sixth-rounder Breeze) will allow him to stick around for years. The Titans could have used help at tight end in this draft, though it looks like they've already secured some undrafted rookies.”
Sporting News: B+
“GM Jon Robinson got plenty of the cornerback and wide receiver reinforcements his team needed after getting gutted there in free agency. Radunz can start right away at right tackle. Fitzpatrick is a good replacement for Corey Davis. Rice will be active for Mike Vrabel.”
If Farley had a clean medical report, he would have gone within the first 10 picks. … if he stays healthy, this is a huge steal.
Dillon Radunz is a little undersized and underweight but has exceptional movement skills and the tools to be an elite pass-blocker, even if it could take a period of time to get there. … Molden can come in and be an excellent slot cornerback, especially on a team looking to rebuild its defensive backfield. Molden, who was the highest-graded slot corner of the PFF College era, was a borderline first-round talent and falls to the bottom of the third. There’s no doubt that this is a great pick.
The Titans got exceptional value here by selecting Rashad Weaver, PFF’s EDGE10 and the 63rd-ranked prospect in this class. He has power, ideal size/length and technical refinement, but he’s not going to impress from an athletic standpoint.
New York Post: B-
“Farley is boom-or-bust. He was the top-ranked CB until a second back surgery since he last played a game in 2019. Evaluations on Radunz were all over the place, too. Molden is a relatively safe pick in a new-look secondary.”