NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Even before the NFL Draft, analysts Charles Davis and Dan Hellie believe the Titans are in a good spot.
A year after tripling the previous season's win total, there's reason to believe the franchise is ready to contend for the AFC South title once again after missing the playoffs by one game in 2016.
Those two- and three-win seasons of the previous two years? Well, they now seem like a distant memory, thanks in large part to the work of general manager Jon Robinson and head coach Mike Mularkey, they said.
"You can feel it building,'' Davis, a former star at the University of Tennessee who now serves as an analyst with NFL Network, said of the Titans. "We've seen this team build, and what I like about it is the team has come together with a plan. It seems so trite, doesn't it? A plan, a vision. But they've been able to execute. They have a general manager who as a rookie could not have had a better year. What a start for him, the way he manipulated the draft board, the hits he got in the draft, and the pieces that were put in place.
"And Mike Mularkey being the choice as head coach with both management and the GM, after a lot of people doubted that because of past records and all. But Mike Mularkey was the right guy, is the right guy for where this organization is. The Titans are in a good place."
Hellie, a host for NFL Network, agrees.
Davis and Hellie are familiar with the Titans. They called the team's preseason contests last season at the start of what turned out to be a 9-7 season. The pair will continue to call preseason games for Titans in 2017.
"I like the direction they are headed,'' Hellie said. "And with those two first-round picks they have in the draft, and with Jon Robinson – he is such a wild card, you never know what he can turn those into. You keep them and you get two really good players who are hopefully going to be starters, if not from Day 1, pretty close.
"And if not he can move one of those picked and recoup a second-rounder or two. I like where they're headed, and now I am really excited to see what they are going to do in the draft. Are they going to go DB with the first pick, and receiver with the second one? Or will they do something that will surprise us all?"
The Titans currently have eight picks in the NFL Draft, including picks 5 and 18 in the first round.
Robinson said on Tuesday he's had some teams inquire about the picks when discussing the possibility of a trade. Robinson said the chances of the Titans picking at 5 and 18 are "50/50."
The Titans have needs in the secondary and at receiver heading into the draft, but other positions will also be addressed, and possibly early. Clemson's Mike Williams, Western Michigan's Corey Davis and Washington's John Ross are considered the top three receivers in this year's draft. While many draft analysts believe the No.5 spot is too early to take a receiver, Charles Davis said it shouldn't necessarily be ruled out.
"Here's the thing, and I have learned this more and more over the years: If a team has a conviction that is their guy, you don't worry as much about whether I take him at 5 or if I feel more comfortable at 18," Davis said. "You better go get him because that is what you want. If you have that conviction, don't worry about the number, just go get your guy."
Based on Robinson's track record from last year, when he made five trades in his first season at GM, Hellie believes he's earned the trust of the fan base.
In last year's draft, the Titans landed an All-Pro in tackle Jack Conklin after moving up on Day 1 of the draft. Robinson secured what turned out to be the fifth overall pick in this year's draft in a trade with the Rams.
"A lot of these organizations, you look at some of the moves and it's like, "What are they doing?," Hellie said. "You haven't seen that with (Robinson) yet. If I'm a Titans fan, I would look at it and say, "Hmm, that's smart."