MOBILE, Ala. –** Jon Robinson is no stranger to the Senior Bowl.
He made his first trek here 15 years ago, and has been back every year since.
Only this year's trip has already been a little different for the new Titans general manager. He found that out the moment he walked into the lobby at the Renaissance Riverview Plaza, headquarters of the event.
"It has been refreshing,'' Robinson said with a smile. "To see guys I came up with on the road, congratulating me, and them coming up to tell me they're really, really happy for me, not only to be a general manager but also being able to be a part of a team I've been passionate about for a long time.
"(Bears GM) Ryan Pace stopped me and said it was really cool to see you get (the job). He said it gives renewed faith to guys who kind of cut their teeth on turning over rocks and living out of suitcases for four months a year and working their way up. It's been really nice. I'm very appreciative."
Robinson, a Union City native, has done pretty well for himself indeed.
This week, Robinson is working his first NFL event since being named general manager of the Titans earlier this month. Outfitted in a Titans pullover, and with coach Mike Mularkey by his side a good part of the day, he attended the morning weigh-ins on Tuesday, chatted with NFL personnel, and then took in practices for the North and South squads from the stands.
At one point during the South practice some of his former colleagues with the Patriots, including coach Bill Belichick, huddled in the bleachers just a stone's throw away.
Robinson spent 12 seasons with the Patriots (2002-13), where he worked as New England's director of college scouting (2009-13), and prior to that served as a regional scout and an area scout for the Patriots.
Robinson joined the Titans after spending the past two seasons as director of player personnel with the Buccaneers. During the course of the day, coaches, scouts and fellow general managers went out of their way to congratulate Robinson.
Phil Savage, executive director of the Senior Bowl, has spent time with Robinson over the years. Savage spent 10 years in scouting himself, first with the Browns and later with the Ravens, before being named general manager of the Browns.
"Jon worked his way up, and paid his dues,'' Savage said of Robinson. "You are sort of a representative of the road scout community, so to speak. Scouts see his success and it is important for them to realize, hey, you can make it from the general manager position from the college scouting side of things.
"When one of us from scouting gets promoted into that position it is an encouragement to the guys out there beating the bushes."
Robinson's not here for the handshakes, of course.
Armed with the first overall pick of the NFL Draft, he's here to work.
Titans head coach Mike Mularkey and GM Jon Robinson introduced to reporters at Saint Thomas Sports Park. (Donn Jones Photography)
He met with scouts at the start of the Senior Bowl festivities, and huddled with Mularkey to get him up to speed. Robinson made his way through countless interviews with prospects on Tuesday, a routine that will continue throughout the week.
The Senior Bowl is just the start of the process. The NFL Combine is next month in Indianapolis, then come pro days. The NFL Draft is in April. The Titans have plenty of needs.
"He doesn't look like he's flustered by all this,'' Mularkey said of Robinson. "I know he has a lot on his plate, there's no question about it. But he never gives you that impression at all."
Something else is obviously different for Robinson. He's now the team's chief decision maker on personnel, which means he'll have to answer for the draft picks.
In the past, he provided input, but the buck didn't necessarily stop with him.
"I went from having a voice to being one of the voices, so yeah, it is different,'' Robinson said. "I put the specifics on "one of the voices" because I am not "the voice." It is going to be a collaborative effort, but it is good."
Make no mistake, Robinson doesn't mind the pressure.
He worked his whole life to put himself in the position he's in today.
Now, he wants to make the future brighter in Tennessee.
"You want to be in the ultimate spot, and as a personnel guy that is general manager of a football team,'' he said. "It's something you work for and hope to attain. Of course I am excited about it."