Little Remains of Jon Robinson's First Draft Class

David Boclair

NASHVILLE – And then there were two.

With the news Thursday that defensive lineman Austin Johnson agreed to contract terms with the New York Giants, only two of the 10 players the Tennessee Titans selected in the 2016 NFL Draft remained on the roster.

That class was the first for current general manager Jon Robinson and the largest of the four he has had to date. By comparison, the Titans made 10 selections in the last two years combined.

Johnson was the second of three second-round picks (43 overall) but never developed into more than a role player. His 58 career appearances included just 13 starts. He averaged 25.3 tackles and produced just two and a half sacks and five tackles for loss.

Running back Derrick Henry, taken two picks after Johnson, and third-round pick Kevin Byard are the only ones who have made it this far. Byard, a Pro Bowl safety, is under contract through 2024, courtesy of a record-setting extension at the end of last year’s training camp. Henry’s presence is only assured through the coming season because the Titans retained his services with a franchise tag.

Johnson is the fourth member of the group to find a new team during the current signing period.

A look back at the 2016 draft class and what each player contributed to the Titans:

Jack Conklin, T (first round, eighth overall): Started 57 out of a possible 64 games at right tackle. Was an All-Pro as a rookie, the Titans’ first since Jevon Kearse in 1999. One of five players during the Titans era (1999-present) to start all 32 games over his first two seasons. Current status: Free agent, 2020 – signed with Cleveland.

Kevin Dodd, OLB (second round, 33 overall): Will go down as one of the biggest draft busts in franchise history. He played just 18 games and had one sack in two seasons before he forced his release by not showing up for the start of training camp in 2018. Current status: Out of football – never signed with another team.

Austin Johnson, DL (second round, 43 overall): Never missed a game because of injury and appeared in all 48 over the past three seasons. He never managed to carve out a significant role for himself behind Jurrell Casey, DaQuan Jones and several others who started on the defensive line the last four seasons. Current status: Free agent, 2020 – agreed to terms with N.Y. Giants.

Derrick Henry, RB (second round, 45 overall): Led the NFL in rushing and earned his first Pro Bowl invitation in 2019. Leads all active running backs with a 4.77 yards-per-carry average for his career and has scored more touchdowns of 65 yards or more over the past two seasons (seven) than any player in the league. Current status: Tendered with franchise tag – rights secured through 2020.

Kevin Byard, S (third round, 64 overall): A Pro Bowler in 2017 and a team captain in 2019. He tied for the NFL lead with eight interceptions and his 17 picks over the past three seasons are more than any other player (no one else has more than 13). One of nine players in franchise history with three interceptions in a game. Current status: Signed through 2024.

Tajaé Sharpe, WR (fifth round, 140 overall): Missed one full season (2017) due to injury and his playing time reception total declined each of the last two years. Still, he was effective in a limited role with 42 first downs on 51 receptions (82.4 percent) in 2018 and 2019. Was the primary backup at all three receiver positions last season. Current status: Free agent, 2020 – signed with Minnesota.

LeShaun Sims, CB (fifth round, 157 overall): Made 11 starts but mostly provided quality depth in the secondary over the past four seasons. Had two interceptions (none since 2017) and one forced fumble. Set a career-high 12 tackles in the 2019 regular season victory over Kansas City. Current status: Free agent, 2020 – agreed to terms with Cincinnati.

Sebastian Tretola, G (sixth round, 193 overall): Played just one game as a rookie. Released at the start of 2017 training camp, days after he sustained a gunshot wound in an off-the-field incident. Never played in the NFL again. Current status: Out of the NFL.

Aaron Wallace, OLB (seventh round, 222 overall): Played 10 games and made 15 tackles as a rookie. Appeared in just three more games after that, spent most of 2017 on injured reserve and was released weeks into the 2018 season. Spent time in 2019 training camp but failed to make the regular season roster. Current status: Out of the NFL.

Kalan Reed, CB (seventh round, 253 overall): Mr. Irrelevant in 2016, appeared in seven games and made one tackle over his first two seasons. Injured during training camp in 2018. Spent time the past two seasons with Seattle but has not played in the regular season since. Current status: Out of the NFL.

Comments (1)
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  1. Conklin is still in the NFL and going strong.
  2. Kevin Dodd was a total bust.
  3. Austin Johnson was given chances under different coaches but he just couldn't find the talent to be a factor. If Johnson makes a big splash with the giants it won't be because the Giant are better at developing talent than the Titans are. The Titans can develop players and if you don't believe me just look at Ryan Tannehill's stats last year. In Tannehill's case it's now clear that Miami was missing ingredients Tannehill needed to produce and Tennessee has those ingredients. In Austin Johnson's case, Tennessee gave him chances but he just couldn't get over the wire.