NASHVILLE, Tenn. –** Titans general manager Jon Robinson offered a smile and a joke when asked about his plans for the first round of this year's NFL Draft.
Things are different for Robinson and the Titans heading into this April, of course. As a result of last season's playoff run, the team's first pick is scheduled for 25th overall. In previous drafts, the Titans made selections at 8th overall in 2016, and 5th and 18th in 2017.
"I will probably eat a lot more, heading into our pick," Robinson said at an event for season ticket members on Saturday night at Gaylord Opryland Hotel.
But what came out of his mouth next was in a serious tone. Just because the Titans are scheduled to pick at No.25 doesn't mean that's where the team will pick, he said. And during his first two offseasons on the job, Robinson proved to be a wheeler and dealer, orchestrating 10 trades, involving players and draft picks. Remember, this is the same guy who obtained a haul when trading away the No.1 pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.
"We'll certainly have a lot more time to just sort of sit back and watch, but we'll be aggressive as well," Robinson said. "If there is a player that we really, really (like). … Maybe we thought he was going to go in the top 10 and for whatever reason maybe he is slipping down the board, we'll try and position ourselves to maybe acquire the guy. Or if we get action on our pick at 25, and a team wants to come up to our pick so that we trade back, I think I have proven that I am willing to trade.
"My phone line is always open."
Robinson, along with members of the team's personnel department, Titans head coach Mike Vrabel and his coaching staff, along with the scouts, will head to Indianapolis this week for the NFL Combine.
Just last week, with the East-West Shrine Game and the Senior Bowl in the rear-view mirror, the team's scouts wrapped up another round of meetings at Saint Thomas Sports Park.
Some big things are on the horizon, from the NFL Combine to free agency. NFL teams are allowed to interview 60 players at the combine, where the best college players will be on display for workouts and medical evaluations.
"It is about getting the right 53 guys on the team, not necessarily the most talented 53 guys on the team," Robinson said. "So we scout them, whether they are first-round guys or seventh-round guys, it doesn't matter where you get drafted. It is getting the evaluation right on the player."
Robinson didn't give any hints on what he's thinking in free agency. The Titans can begin signing free agents from other teams starting March 14. In the meantime they can discuss contracts with some of their own players scheduled to become free agents. Last week, the Titans signed kicker Ryan Succop to a contract extension.
Robinson said information gathered from college scouting reports provide good background on players now becoming free agents, even if the reports date back a few years.
"You have to be cautious a little bit, but at the end of the day we are looking for productive players." Robinson said of free agency. "We are looking for guys who are going to come in and be about what we are about, and that is the approach we have taken the last two offseasons and the same approach we'll take this year.
"Good football players, that's what we are looking for. As many as we can get."
Robinson did say the Titans will enter free agency considering the big picture rather than looking to spend all of their money right out of the gate.
Coming off a 9-7 season when the franchise won its first playoff game since the 2003 season, Robinson said he likes the makeup of the roster. It's packed with team-first, tough-minded and dependable players, and that fits what he and Vrabel are looking for on the team.
"You have to be judicious how you are going to allocate the funds because you never know if a player may become available via trade," Robinson said when discussing the financial decisions involved in free agency. "And you might send a pick to a team for a player that you really didn't know a player was going to become available and you have to inherit that salary.
"There's players you are going to want to re-sign along the way. So you can't just push all your chips in there on the table, you have to be selective and try and make the right decisions for your football team."
Nearly 8,000 Titans season ticket members turned out for the team's annual ticket holders event at Gaylord Opryland Hotel. (Photos: Donn Jones, Gary Glenn)