NASHVILLE – Mel Kiper Jr. admits it's just an educated hunch.
On a conference call on Wednesday morning, ESPN's draft guru explained why he has the Titans making a big move in the first round of the NFL Draft in his latest mock draft.
Kiper mocked the Titans trading up from No.11 to No.3 – with the Cardinals – to select Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson.
"The only real intel you have now – because no one is going to tell you what they are doing in the league, there's nobody in this league telling anybody what they are doing," Kiper said on this morning's conference call.
"You just hear Arizona moving out – that's pretty much up for sale, that third pick. Once we knew that's up for sale – I've always had them moving out; I had them moving from three to four. But then you hear Indy may stick at four. Well, if that's the case then it's, 'Who has had interest in Anthony Richardson? And, Tennessee, he had a visit to Tennessee."
And that's what led Kiper to having the Titans select Richardson early in the first round, after a big trade.
In his latest mock, Kiper has Alabama quarterback Bryce Young going to the Carolina Panthers with the 1st overall pick, and then Ohio State's C.J. Stroud going No. 2 to the Houston Texans.
Kiper then has the Titans taking Richardson, and the Colts then taking Kentucky quarterback Will Levis at No. 4, which would mark the first time in NFL history quarterbacks have gone with the first four selections.
During Wednesday morning's conference call, Kiper said if one of the quarterbacks happened to slide, he thinks it would be Levis.
During the mock draft posted on ESPN on Tuesday, here's what Kiper had to say about the Richardson pick:
Tennessee would have to give up a lot in this trade — the closest recent comp is the Miami-San Francisco swap in 2021. The 49ers acquired the No. 3 overall pick in that draft for the No. 12 selection, future first-round picks in the 2022 and 2023 drafts and a third-rounder in 2022. In this mock scenario, Tennessee would send Arizona picks Nos. 11 and 41 in this draft, plus a 2024 first-round selection and likely either a 2025 first- or second-rounder as well. And don't forget new Titans general manager Ran Carthon joined the organization from San Francisco.
During Wednesday morning's conference call, Kiper added this:
"Tennessee has (Ryan) Tannehill for one more year. Malik Willis, you don't know what he is going to develop into. Basically, you have a better version of Malik Willis in Anthony Richardson – he's a run guy who has to improve as a passer, but he is big, he has a rocket arm. He's a guy I think could be spectacular in the NFL if his accuracy improves. He'd immediately be one of the top three to four running quarterbacks in the National Football League, maybe eventually be the best running quarterback in the NFL.
"So, with that kind of upside, if you can go from 11 to 3 and get him, then why not? Especially for a team that has the bridge quarterback already available, which is important. With only 13 career starts, and Anthony Richardson being a raw, developmental talent, you need to have a quarterback in place for this year and they have that in Tannehill."