By David Boclair
Jon Robinson waited until the final day of the 2019 NFL Draft to make his move.
The Tennessee Titans general manager made just one trade during the three-day selection process, which attracted hundreds of thousands of people to Nashville on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. He jumped up five spots in the fourth round, a move that caused him to drop back nine spots in the fifth via a deal with the New York Jets, to take safety Amani Hooker out of Iowa.
“There was a team in there that we thought might take him so we felt we needed to get ourselves in position,” Robinson said. “He was the highest-graded player we had on the board at that time. We felt really good about adding him and the role that he is going to have on the team.”
Hooker was the first of three defensive players the Titans selected on Saturday and the second of four among their six total selections. The attention to defense began Thursday with first-round pick Jefferey Simmons, a defensive tackle out of Mississippi State. Friday’s second and third rounds produced help for the offense.
“I don’t know that you are going to go this pick offense, this pick defense or you’re going to go three and three or five and one or whatever it may be,” Robinson said. “…We stuck to the board and we were able to come away with six guys offensively, defensively, special teams and I think we bolstered our football team this weekend.”
A rundown and analysis of the Tennessee Titans’ selections in the 2019 NFL Draft:
• First round (19th overall): Jeffery Simmons, defensive tackle (6-foot-4, 301 pounds), Mississippi State
Most analysts agree he was one of the top five prospects in this draft. He lasted as along as he did because of a knee injury sustained in February, which will cause him to miss some — if not all — of the 2019 season. The Titans are confident that he eventually will return to full health and will be worth the wait.
• Second round (51st overall): A.J. Brown, wide receiver (6-foot, 226 pounds), Mississippi
It took just three seasons for him to become Ole Miss’ leader in career receiving yards. It helped that he averaged 15.8 yards per reception. He and free agent addition Adam Humphries will have to sort out who does what, but given the seemingly constant state of flux of the Titans’ wide receivers group, he will get plenty of opportunity to play.
• Third round (82nd overall): Nate Davis, guard (6-foot-3, 316 pounds), Charlotte
He is not as big as a lot of guards these days but has unusually quick feet for a man his size. He is also uniquely flexible in his knees and hips, which allows him to get low at the snap. He will have a chance to earn a starting job as a rookie.
• Fourth round (116th overall): Amani Hooker, safety (5-foot-11, 210 pounds), Iowa
Last fall, his college coaches created a position in their defense specifically to take advantage of his versatility and he was the Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year. Like last year’s fifth-round pick, Dane Cruickshank, he is a depth player who will get a lot of work on special teams — possibly even as a return man — and be used in specific packages on defense.
• Fifth round (168th overall): D’Andre Walker, outside linebacker (6-foot-2, 251 pounds), Georgia
The Titans’ most glaring roster need going into the draft was edge rushers on defense. This is a guy who will be counted on to help fill the departures of Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan. He is not quite as big as some would like so expect him to be a situational player as a rookie with the hope that he eventually will develop into a starter.
• Sixth round (188th overall): David Long, outside linebacker (5-foot-11, 227 pounds), West Virginia
He is undersized but plays with unusual aggression and abandon. If he’s going to make mistakes (which he does), he is going to do it at full speed. That attitude makes him a natural for special teams. In an absolute best-case scenario, it is not hard to imagine him playing run downs and then giving way to Walker on pass downs.