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VOL. 132 | NO. 80 | Friday, April 21, 2017

Titans Sold on Robinson-Mularkey Plan

BY TERRY McCORMICK, Nashville Sports Correspondent

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In Jon Robinson and Mike Mularkey the Tennessee Titans trust – completely.

Current Titans players have faith coach Mike Mularkey and GM Jon Robinson will have a solid NFL Draft.

(AP Photo/AJ Mast, File)

They’ve earned that respect with moves made in free agency and the draft, as well as the culture shift they’ve helped instill in the locker room.

And then there’s the actual record, 9-6 in 2016 after winning five games total in the previous two seasons.

The NFL and its followers have taken notice. And so have Titans players, who are as anxious as fans to see what Robinson has in store for this year’s draft, scheduled for April 27-29.

“Whatever the big guy upstairs (Robinson) does, we’re going to love it,” defensive end Jurrell Casey says.

“And at the end of the day, they’re going to come in and perform, and us, as vets, we’re going to go out there and make sure that he gets the job done.”

All 10 of Robinson’s picks from his first draft eventually wound up on the 53-man roster with key contributors from All-Pro rookie tackle Jack Conklin, all the way to Tajae Sharpe and LeShaun Sims in the fifth round, both of whom wound up as starters.

“Jon and coach Mularkey have done a tremendous job adding the pieces that we need to get better, and we’re going to continue to add obviously through the draft and probably through free agency,” veteran outside linebacker Brian Orakpo says.

“Those guys know exactly what they’re doing to put us on the right path to success.”

The Titans currently have the No. 5 (via last year’s trade of the No. 1 overall pick to the Los Angeles Rams and now-departed coach Jeff Fisher) and No. 18 first-round picks, and could go a number of different directions with their choices, including trading one (or both) of the first-rounders for even more choices this year or in future drafts.

While in much better shape roster-wise than this time last year, the Titans are still making over the secondary and could use depth at wide receiver, tight end and linebacker.

“We’ve got two first-round picks,” Orakpo adds. “I’m excited, whoever we get. You can go corner, you can go receiver, another pass rusher, D-line.

“You can go all kinds of positions, I’m excited. Whoever we get I know is going to be a contributor. First-round picks don’t just come in here and sit and learn. They come in and play now.

“So whoever we get is going to come in and be a big part of our team. I’m excited.”

Mularkey is, as expected, saying nothing to tip the Titans’ hand.

“As of today, we’re looking at all positions in the draft,” he says. “We’re looking at all positions as we always do.”

The culture change that helped take the Titans from 3-13 to 9-7 was a dominant topic this week when the Titans assembled at St. Thomas Sports Park for the beginning of their off-season workout program.

Mularkey reminded the players of how different the expectations are now from a year ago.

“We talked about this time last year there were a lot of changes going on,” he explained.

“Obviously there was a new GM, new coaches, new players in this meeting a year ago.

“The one thing we hadn’t started to change and needed to was our mindset. That started here last year.

“That message was confirmed of where we’re going with it by playing the way we want to play. So we are ahead of where we were a year ago by a long shot.”

“It’s definitely changed,” Orakpo agrees. “Ever since coach Mularkey and Jon Robinson got on board, things have been completely night and day. It’s like a total makeover of the whole organization.”

Terry McCormick covers the Titans for TitanInsider.com

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