Part three of this NFL Draft preview takes us to the AFC South. The story of this division is as follows…..
The Indianapolis Colts are hoping to finally reach the Super Bowl, while everyone else is looking to get past the Colts. Expect a fair amount of activity within this division when draft day comes along. Here is the breakdown for each team in the AFC’s Southern Division.
Indianapolis Colts: Own picks 29, 61, 93, 128, 165, 205, 207, 244 and 255 overall.
Nine picks is a lot for a team which doesn’t need much. But the needs they do have are significant. While Indy did sign Frank Gore to boost their run game, he could use a young, solid backup. The Colts also need a fullback as they don’t have any on the roster. They also need depth at the cornerback position. Here are some players that may have their name called by the Colts at the end of the month…
Considering the Colts pick at the bottom of the first round, they most likely won’t be able to land a top-notch rusher. But they could grab players such as Florida’s Matt Jones (6’2”, 231), North Dakota State’s John Crockett (6’0”, 217), or Louisiana State’s Terrance Magee (5’8”, 213). All three men played in pro style offenses on the college gridiron.
In my AFC East draft preview (please link story: https://fanspeak.com/afceast/2015/04/08/nfl-draft-preview-afc-east/), I mentioned the seven fullbacks that have thrown their names into this year’s draft. The Colts coaching staff can mold anyone of them into the type of player they need.
It’s take your pick as far as this position is concerned. There are a ton of corners available but the Colts could choose an in-state player such as Notre Dame’s Cody Riggs (5’9”, 185), or a couple of Big Ten guys like Michigan State’s Trae Waynes (6’0”, 186) or Ohio State’s Doran Grant (5’10”, 200).
Houston Texans: Own picks 16, 51, 82, 116, 152, 175, 195, 211, 216 and 235 overall.
Their biggest need is a big play wide receiver now that Andre Johnson is gone. They also need some bodies to play cornerback, and their linebacking corps could use some depth. Brian Cushing is the most experienced player at the position, every other ‘backer on the squad has no more than five years of league experience. Not to mention that Jadeveon Clowney’s rookie year was plagued by injuries.
So perhaps a youth movement is in order for the Texans. Here are some players that could wear their uniform later this year….
Chances are by the time the Texans choose their first round pick, Alabama’s Amari Cooper and West Virginia’s Kevin White will be off the board. But they could still grab someone like Miami-Florida’s Phillip Dorsett (5’10”, 185), Louisville’s DeVante Parker (6’3”, 209), or Maryland’s Stefon Diggs (6’0”, 195).
Expect the Texans to look at some in-state products such as TCU’s Kevin White (not the one from West Virginia, 5’9” 183), Texas State’s Craig Mager (5’11”, 201) and Texas Longhorn Quandre Diggs (5’9”, 196).
Aside from cornerback, linebacker is another heavily stocked defensive position in this year’s draft. TCU’s Paul Dawson (6’0, 235), UCLA’s Eric Kendricks (6’0”, 232), Washington’s Shaq Thompson (6’0, 228), and Virginia’s Eli Harold (6’3”, 247) could fit in nicely with Houston’s 3-4 defense.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Own picks 3, 36, 67, 103, 139, 180 and 220 overall.
Even though quarterback Blake Bortles slowly came into his own as rookie last year, he was under pressure more often than not, and he took a lot of sacks. Last year’s third overall pick needs better protection in front of him.
Their running back-by-committee didn’t work too well last season either. The Jags’ need a clear cut starter. They could also use some help at safety. Here are some players that the Jaguars front office could have their eye on…..
It would be wise for Jacksonville to use their first round pick to upgrade the line. The three best players that will be available to them at number three are Stanford tackle Andrus Peat (6’5”, 313), Iowa guard Brandon Scherff (6’5”, 319), and Florida State center Cameron Erving (6’5”, 313).
All three men are very physical blockers who played in pro style offenses and have proven themselves against some of the best defensive lines in all of college football.
At number 36 overall (second round) there may be a slight chance that Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon, Georgia’s Todd Gurley, or Indiana’s Tevin Coleman may still be available. If not, they can always land a sleeper pick in the form of either Auburn’s Cameron Artis-Payne (5’10”, 212), and Corey Grant (5’11”, 205) or Texas’ Malcolm Brown (5’11”, 224).
Considering the lack of upper echelon safety’s in this year’s draft, the Jags’ may stick to local players such as Miami-Florida’s Ladarius Gunter (6’1”, 202), Florida Atlantic’s Damian Parms (6’2”, 210), or Central Florida’s Clayton Geathers (6’2”, 218).
Tennessee Titans: Own picks 2, 33, 66, 100, 138, 177 and 208 overall.
The biggest and most pressing need is the quarterback position. Zach Mettenberger just couldn’t handle the pressure last year, Jake Locker retired in February, and the rest of the signal callers on the current roster leave much to be desired.
Alex Tanney was just a practice squad player last year, Jordan Palmer hasn’t stayed on a roster for a full season since 2010, and Charlie Whitehurst has only thrown for 1,326 yards and seven touchdowns in his decade long career.
To say the Titans are in dire need of a franchise quarterback is an understatement. But the question is how will they get that franchise QB? Conventional wisdom says the Titans would use their first round pick on either Florida State’s Jameis Winston (6’4”, 231), or Oregon’s Marcus Mariota (6’4”, 222).
But lately there’s been some speculation that Tennessee could seek a veteran option under center. There’s been multiple media reports stating that the Titans may trade their first round pick to the Chicago Bears for veteran gun slinger Jay Cutler.
This move would make sense for both franchises. The Titans need a veteran arm while the Bears will eventually seek a change at the position. A lot can happen between now and April 30th.
The Titans are also in desperate need of a pass rush. Here are some players that can suit them well in that regard.
Missouri end Shane Ray (6’5”, 245), Florida State tackle Eddie Goldman (6’4”, 336), Clemson tackle Jarrett Grady (6’1”, 204), and Utah end Nate Orchard (6’3”, 250) would be good building blocks for a rebuilding team.
Draft day is just 14 days away.