Friday, June 2 2023

After opening remarks for his pre-draft press conference on Thursday afternoon, Titans general manager Ran Carthon had a message for the assembled media at the team’s headquarters: loosen up. 

“Everybody looks so tight,” Carthon laughed, scanning the room. “Let’s lighten up man, and have some fun.” 

Maybe it was a reminder for Carthon himself too, as he enters his first draft as the leader of Tennessee’s personnel department, one that will set the foundation of his tenure. 

He’s done what he feels is needed to get in the right headspace for Thursday, Day 1 of the draft. He left Nashville this past weekend, visiting his dad and other family members in Arkansas. After getting the final bits of information on prospects early this week, he hopes to shut his brain off for the next couple days until the Titans are on the clock. 

But there have been sleepless nights in the process. Last week, Carthon woke up at 3:43 a.m. one day and asked himself, ‘Who the hell is going to be there at (No.) 11?’ If he gets up in the middle of the night, he might shoot over a couple texts to assistant general manager Chad Brinker about what’s on his mind. 

Carthon is trying not to be too hard on himself, though. You only get one first draft.

“I think once we get on the clock, I think there will be some nerves watching how this whole thing shakes out,” Carthon said. “But at that point, it’s just like a game. Once the ball is kicked off and you have your first hit, now it’s time to go.” 


A few things we learned about Carton’s thought process for his draft as Titans general manager, and what that might mean for their top pick:

If Titans take QB in round one, will Ryan Tannehill be traded? 

With the 11th pick, the Titans are looking for a “blue player,” according to Carthon — a player that’s going to come in and contribute “immediately,” with the hope the team never has to pick that high again. 

That’s far from earth-shattering information — players taken that high should ideally be one of the team’s best players right away — but Carthon’s words adds fuel to the idea that if Tennessee does indeed stray from a more pressing need like wide receiver or offensive line at the top of the draft for a hopeful quarterback of the future, the signal-caller will be thrown into the fire and not sit behind a veteran.

Klatt’s 2023 mock draft 2.0

Joel Klatt revealed his mock draft 2.0 before the 2023 NFL Draft.

That would make it necessary to move on from Tannehill, who’s scheduled to make $27 million in base salary and carries a cap number of $36.6 million in 2023, the last year of his contract. The Titans would save $17.8 million in cap space by trading (or releasing) the veteran quarterback with a pre-June 1 designation. 

Florida’s Anthony Richardson and Kentucky’s Will Levis are the top quarterback prospects many draft pundits have speculated could sit at least several games as a rookie.

Tennessee may address positions of need later than we expect

Asked about the area’s of strength in this year’s draft class, Carthon mentioned wide receiver, offensive line and quarterback — three of the team’s biggest needs. 

Specifically on receiver, arguably the team’s biggest need, Carthon said there’s value everywhere in the draft.

“In college football, there’s a lot of talented receivers because it’s a passing game,” he said. “So most teams play with 4-5 receivers at a time. There’s value from the top all the way down.”

What his comments mean? The Titans may not address certain positions as early as a strength of a need would typically dictate. 

Top 50 players in draft

Joel Klatt reveals his top 50 players 2.0 for the 2023 NFL Draft.

In explaining the balance of the value of a player vs. a position of need, particularly early in the draft, Carthon also explained how it’s important to not reach for a player and stick to your board. 

“You just have to trust the process and just know and understand that this player here is available, but you know a little bit further down you can get an equal player that you don’t necessarily have to reach for,” he said. 

Carthon leaning on several voices, viewpoints for first draft

As the San Francisco 49ers‘ director of pro personnel (2017-20) and player personnel (2021-22), Carthon saw collaboration work at the highest levels between the coaching, personnel and analytics staffs in one of the NFL’s best-run teams. And he’s brought those principles into his role as Titans general manager. 

To make the pre-draft process more “inclusive,” Carthon said that there have been separate pre-draft meetings for the coaches and scouts, so everyone is in the room with each other and can have their perspectives heard on the prospects. 

“I think making it more collaborative gives people more ownership into the players we’re bringing in,” he said. 

Carthon also noted how he’s leaned on several general managers across the league for advice on the draft, those he’s built relationships with. That includes Kwesi Adofo-Mensah (Vikings), Martin Mayhew (Commanders), John Lynch (49ers) and John Schneider (Seahawks). 

“But more than anything,” Carthon said, “just trusting my training and trusting the guys we have around us.” 

Ben Arthur is the AFC South reporter for FOX Sports. He previously worked for The Tennessean/USA TODAY Network, where he was the Titans beat writer for a year and a half. He covered the Seattle Seahawks for for three seasons (2018-20) prior to moving to Tennessee. You can follow Ben on Twitter at @benyarthur.

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Source: FOX Sports


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