Hey Titans, good luck corralling fans' Jadeveon Clowney hopes now | Estes
It’s not a matter of what did happen in the draft but what did not.
The Titans did not draft an edge rusher.
And it’s going to be impossible to not link that fact to the drawn-out, complicated, seemingly never-ending courtship with the Seahawks’ Jadeveon Clowney — the No. 1 overall pick in 2014 who once played for Mike Vrabel in Houston.
Anyone who might downplay the Titans’ flirtations with Clowney would have a much harder time doing so after the Titans did absolutely nothing in this draft toward Clowney’s position, though Jon Robinson tried when asked Saturday night.
“We looked at some edge guys today," said the Titans' GM. "We looked at some edge guys the previous two days."
But he didn’t draft any of them.
Meanwhile, the Titans checked all kinds of boxes everywhere else, replacing Jack Conklin at right tackle, Logan Ryan at cornerback, Dion Lewis at running back, Austin Johnson on the defensive line and perhaps Marcus Mariota at quarterback (even looking to Hawaii to snag McDonald in the seventh round).
Those were needs worth addressing with draft picks, especially in the secondary, where the Titans also spent their final pick on Marshall’s Chris Jackson. Filling them efficiently made what looked to be a solid draft class, as much as we can know about such things so soon.
Pass rush loomed as a priority in this draft, too, though. Many mock drafts, going back months, had the Titans on edge rushers in the first round. That's because pass rush was a glaring weakness the Titans could certainly improve before the 2020 season.
To that end, the Titans did sign Vic Beasley, but that didn’t stop their attempts at Clowney, nor should it have.
Robinson said last Monday before the draft that “we haven’t closed the door on anything” with Clowney and would “probably circle back with that” in the coming week. Robinson also said, “Where we’re at, depending upon who we pick (in the draft), could potentially impact” negotiations with Clowney.
OK, so what did it say that the Titans didn’t select an edge rusher at all?
At the same time, what did it say that the Seahawks — still in the mix to bring Clowney back and perhaps the Titans’ primary competition by this point — spent their first two picks on outside linebacker Jordyn Brooks and former Vols defensive end Darrell Taylor.
Um … hint, hint?
For Titans fans, this offseason’s Clowney sweepstakes has teased for so long that the question of will the Titans sign Clowney has overshadowed another: Should they sign him?
He obviously wants a boatload of money (reports have been in the range of $20 million and now maybe a few million less than that). That’s a lot for a player who has averaged fewer than six sacks in his six NFL seasons. The only Titans player (according to Spotrac.com) expected to have a cap hit larger than $20 million in 2020 is newly re-signed quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
Check the highlights, though. They are fire. Clowney is as talented as any player in football. But he has been flashy more than he has been consistently productive. That doesn’t necessarily mesh with these Titans.
But these Titans need to do something.
At best, they’ve held the status quo this offseason. Even after the draft, it’s difficult to see where the 2020 version has improved from the 2019 one that was good enough to make noise in the AFC’s postseason but not good enough to get past the Kansas City Chiefs, who aren’t going anywhere.
Clowney might not be worth the money he wants, but he’d give the Titans something they were lacking last season.
And something they’re still lacking after the draft.
Reach Gentry Estes at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @Gentry_Estes.