The AFC South is an interesting division. The Colts won the division in 2013 with an 11-5 record and the once powerful Texans had the worst record in the NFL. Jacksonville and Tennessee are both coming off an exciting draft but are unlikely contenders to win the division. With major questions surrounding Houston’s QB situation, Andrew Luck and the Colts are the clear front runners.
The Texans drafted a quarterback late in round 4 in Tom Savage. It is highly unlikely that Savage wins the starting quarterback job, he has much development to undergo. I guess Ryan Fitzpatrick is the frontrunner for their starting gig but that is not an attractive option. He may be a bright Harvard graduate, but Fitzpatrick specialty is late throws that get picked and he has limited arm strength. Case Keenum however did not fill Texans fans with hope last season. Its hard to win without good quarterback play; this is bad news for the Texans as I don’t see a good quarterback on their roster.
There is no question the Texans have talent, especially on defense. They drafted Jadeveon Clowney with the number 1 pick. A defense with Clowney and JJ Watt is too good to be true. If there is a team who can win without a quarterback it might be the Texans. Still it will be a tall order for new coach Bill O’Brien.
The Titans had a phenomenal draft. Taylor Lewan is one heck of an athletic offensive tackle and Bishop Sankey could be a game changer. The defense should be decent and DaQuan Jones will have an immediate impact up front. Jake Locker showed signs of life last year under center but nothing to be overly enthused in. Its possible Tennessee could fight for a wild card. They are a talented team but its hard to see them beating teams with good quarterback play consistently.
Jacksonville drafted Blake Bortles to be their future, but expect to start Chad Henne will play for the present. Jacksonville should be more explosive on offense with rookie receivers Marquise Lee and Allen Robinson. The Jaguars are still rebuilding. They seem to be in a positive direction, however they are not there yet.
By deduction the Colts are the clear front runner to win the division. Chuck Pagano’s defense will continue to improve, especially with the addition of Arthur Jones on the defensive line. The offense will improve as Andrew Luck has a new weapon in Hakeem Nicks and the team will have a healthy Reggie Wayne back. After going 11-5 two consecutive seasons it seems likely that the Colts will win a second consecutive divisional championship.
Houston Texans: C+
The Houston Texans grabbed the best overall prospect in the draft, Jedaveon Clowney. The Texans got a decent haul in terms of talent but really dropped the ball on their biggest need. The Texans revamped their already strong defense with Clowney to start the draft and got a steal in Louis Nix in the third round. Their second round selection was decent, as they got UCLA guard Xaiver Su’a-Filo. Andre Hal was a good value in the 6th, round. The problem is that they laid an egg at the quarterback position. Tom Savage was their answer under center in the fourth round and I hate the pick. I see Savage as an undraftable project that won’t be ready to start in his rookie year. The Houston Texans still do not have a franchise QB; this docks a decent draft considerably.
Indianapolis Colts: D
This is the second straight year that Indianapolis has had me scratching my head. First knock the Colts for giving up their first round pick for Trent Richardson- that worked out poorly. Their second round selection was poor in my eyes. They took Jack Mewhort, the offensive tackle from Ohio State. I think they may move him to guard but I had better guards ahead of him at that point. If they intend him to be a tackle, I see that ending with a disappointing result. Their best value pick was Andrew Jackson, the linebacker from Western Kentucky in the 6th round. I thought that was a steal. Donte Moncrief is a decent prospect but is a bit raw of a wide receiver.
I had receivers ranked higher, at the time he was selected.
Tennessee Titans: A
The Titans had an amazing draft. With the 11th pick the Titans selected Taylor Lewan. Lewan is an amazingly gifted left tackle prospect. The the Titans selected my top rated running back, Bishop Sankey. Sankey is a compact runner who is hard to bring down because of his low center of gravity. I have compared him to a smaller version of Marshawn Lynch, who is more elusive and better catching out of the backfield. In the third round the Titans drafted one of my favorite prospects in DaQuan Jones. Jones is a mammoth space eater upfront who reminds me of Vince Wilfork. I pts hard to find an example of more value in three picks. I am not a fan of their 6th round pick LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger. In the 6th round however its hard to knock them for the selection.
Jacksonville Jaguars: B
I am not high on Blake Bortles. I see him as a very unpolished quarterback who struggles unless he rolls out of the pocket. The Jaguars thought they drafted a traditional pocket passer but I don’t think they got one. I had a third round grade on Marquise Lee, but I am in the minority on that. Allen Robinson who they took at pick 69 is a tough, physical receiver who reminds me of a young Anquan Boldin. Robinson was a steal. The Jags found talent and value deep into the draft. In the 5th round they selected Telvin Smith who fits nicely on the weak side of their defense. Aaron Colvin may have been a second rounder if he did not suffer a knee injury; they got him in the fourth. Chris Smith and Storm Johnson were also high value selections.