- James Kenney/AP
Less than a year after the Tennessee Titans traded the No. 1 pick in the 2016 draft to the Los Angeles Rams, the deal looks even more lopsided in the Titans’ favor.
The deal included a whopping nine picks, with the Titans receiving four picks in last year’s draft while giving away the No. 1 pick, a fourth-round pick, and a fifth-round pick.
The Rams used that No. 1 pick to draft Jared Goff, while the Titans continued wheeling and dealing on draft day, muddling to a degree who exactly they came away with as a result of the trade.
But while the Rams will end a tumultuous season on Sunday, the Titans are still reaping the rewards from the trade – they’ll receive compensatory first- and third-round picks in the 2017 draft, via the Rams. Because of the Rams’ struggles, the first-round pick could end up in the top five.
Though the Titans, at 8-7 with one game to go, missed the playoffs this season, their future looks considerably brighter than that of the Rams. The Titans have a future franchise quarterback in Marcus Mariota, who improved leaps and bounds in his second year – although his season-ending leg injury is a setback – an offensive line that helped establish the sixth-best run game in the NFL, and the 13th-best run defense in the NFL.
As ESPN’s Bill Barnwell noted in a recent column, the Titans are well positioned to take a step forward next year. Their offensive line is locked in long-term, they’ll have cap space to help build up their defense, and, as a result of the trade, they’ll have four picks in the first three rounds. (Their second-round pick goes to the Browns.)
Comparatively, the Rams still look like they have a long road ahead. While six games are too few to accurately judge Goff, the early results haven’t been encouraging. He’s completed over 60% of his passes just once this season, and he has thrown more interceptions than touchdowns.
- Rick Osentoski/AP
Part of what plagues the Rams is a weak offensive supporting cast for Goff. Their offensive line gave up the fifth-most sacks in the league and did little to help running back Todd Gurley get space to move, ranking 23rd in “stuffed” percentage, according to Football Outsiders. Additionally, partly because of their quarterback woes, the Rams ranked dead last in pass offense, according to Football Outsiders.
Though the Rams will have some cap space to work with this summer, draft picks would be helpful in adding young, cheap talent to address roster needs.
Some may feel that if Goff turns into a franchise quarterback, the trade will have been worthwhile for the Rams. But for a team that appears to be facing a steep rebuild, giving up six picks could be painful in the meantime.
The Titans, however, could be ready to take the next step. With a young, developing roster, cap space, and extra draft picks – in a weak division – the Titans appear to be heading in the right direction.