Titans GM Jon Robinson Looking for Talent at Senior Bowl

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MOBILE, Ala. – Jon Robinson has watched film, and plenty of it.

Even before heading to the Senior Bowl today for the start of week-long practices that begin on Tuesday, the Titans general manager has already written at least 100 reports on college prospects for this year's NFL Draft.

Robinson has also observed a large number of prospects in person, during stops to college stadiums before NFL games. During the fall, he attended matchups like Florida State-Miami, Alabama-Texas A&M, Illinois-Northwestern, Florida-Vanderbilt and Tennessee-Nebraska, just to name a few. Last week, he was on hand for East-West Shrine Game practices in St. Petersburg, Florida.

So Senior Bowl week is hardly the beginning of the process leading up to April's NFL Draft. The NFL Combine, set to begin in late-February in Indianapolis, is also in the horizon, along with college pro days and pre-draft visits to Saint Thomas Sports Park.

"The Senior Bowl is really the best of the best (of the senior class), the guys that go there,'' Robinson said. "It is a chance to watch them in 1-on-1 settings against the best competition, a chance to sit down and talk to them, get to know them as people, start to dive into their football knowledge and see how they are going to fit in your program. We get verified measurements on those guys.

"I would say it is not the start of the process, but really getting to some finality with the process."

Over 100 seniors will take part in practices from Tuesday-Friday here this week, followed by the game on Saturday.

During the course of the week, Robinson and others wearing the Titans fireball logo — from coaches to scouts to others in personnel — will spend time with every one of them. Last year, the Titans ended up drafting four players who participated in the Senior Bowl — MTSU safety Kevin Byard, Penn State defensive lineman Austin Johnson, Massachusetts receiver Tajae Sharpe and Arkansas offensive lineman Sebastian Tretola.

The exposure provides teams a chance to get an initial read on the players, Robinson said.

But Robinson said he looks for things on the practice field he can't gauge in interviews.

"We spend time with each guy there, and get a baseline interview with those guys, answer some questions we may have from our scouts visits in the fall, information we have on the players,'' Robinson said.

"(On the field) I look for competition. How competitive are they in that setting? Do they step up?  Are they leaders in the front? Are they coachable? What is their body language like? How do they perform when called upon? How do they react with a good play? How do they react to a bad play? All of that factors into a decision we make on a player.

"We've already formed opinions on the players,'' Robinson continued. "The Senior Bowl is just another exposure. We already have evaluations based on their respective performances at their colleges. The schemes are more basic, you can't really run a complicated scheme. But if a guy is blowing a coverage in a basic scheme then you know you may have issues there."

The Titans are scheduled to make eight selections in the NFL Draft, including two in the first round and two in the third round. The team has one selection in rounds 4-7 as well.

Robinson, who drafted four offensive players and six defensive players in last year's draft, knows the Titans have needs on both sides of the football at the start of the 2017 offseason. Robinson didn't name specific needs for his team, but he's looking for certain players again in this year's draft.

"I think we are going to take a similar approach that we took last year,'' Robinson said. "We are looking for good football players, we are looking for competitive football players. It is kind of the same message: We want the most competitive 90-man roster that we can heading into minicamp and then training camp as possible.

"There's some positions we addressed last year that we still want to add competition to that position. There's positions that we maybe didn't focus on that we maybe want to add competition to those positions as well. I think there's good football players on this team and we just have to get a few more."

TitansOnline.com looks back at GM Jon Robinson's first year with the Titans. (AP Photos)

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