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Sports Ruckus NFL Draft Grades: AFC South

AFC South Draft Review
By: Justin Walters @SportsRuckus

For anyone that questions how important having a good QB is check out the results in this division. The Colts went from Manning to Luck and kept winning division titles despite consistently poor drafting. The rest of the division has had awful QB play for years.  Once again the AFC South will be decided by the play or non-play of the QBs. The Colts have Luck and over the last 2 years everyone else has added their QB of the future/present Jaguars – Bortles last year, Titans- Mariota this year, Texans- uh uh uh Tom Savage??  Ok maybe Mallett/Hoyer

Colts may have overdrafted Phillip Dorsett, especially when they have TY Hilton already on their roster

Colts may have overdrafted Phillip Dorsett, especially when they have TY Hilton already on their roster

Indianapolis Colts   D

If you are a Colts fan, going into the draft you had to be thinking 3 things: we made it to the AFC championship last year, we already clinched the division for this year, and the patriots who we can’t beat lost players and have some issues going on. So all we have to do is have a good draft. Definitely get a lineman or two to protect our franchise QB and add a few defenders, so the Patriots can stop running for 500 yards every time you play them. But … You are the Colts and you chose a small fast receiver who would be a good pick if you didn’t already have the same exact player, only better already on your roster in T.Y. Hiliton.  That being said I love Dorsett as a player, he has game breaking ability and will contribute as long as the linemen that you didn’t pick allow Luck the time to find him.  3rd round pick CB D’Joun Smith is a talented player from a small school who will compete for the nickel job, but again CB is one of the teams strongest positions. Henry Anderson is a high floor-low ceiling prospect. He plays hard and will give the team a solid 5 technique, so I guess that’s a decent pick given the circumstances. Sixth round RB Josh Robinson is a short- thick back who weeble- wobble but doesnt go down. He could be in the mix to backup Frank Gore.

At the end of the day the Colts had a few options to make themselves a real Super Bowl contender but decided to go with multiple choice answer E- none of the above. So things are looking pretty much the same, Division title by default and maybe a playoff win as long as Luck stays healthy and that’s it.  The Colts did provide a memorable moment in the draft by choosing OT Denzel Goode who ESPN and NFL network had no idea existed. That’s gotta count for something. I wanted to give them an F—– but at least a majority of these guys will be on the roster and Dorsett will make plays.

Kevin Johnson will be an impact player for the Texans from day one

Kevin Johnson will be an impact player for the Texans from day one

Houston Texans  D

We have all heard the phrase “the rich getting richer” well this is more “the poor getting poorer”. They made a few picks that I don’t hate and for the rest there was just better talent on the board.  The Texans started the draft with 1st round choice Kevin Johnson. In breaking down Johnson you get all of the key buzzwords “solid”, “safe”,”reliable” and that’s a good thing but when I consider that the best cb in the draft Marcus Peters was chosen after him and Johnson’s ceiling is a really good #2 corner I just don’t know. But as I said earlier not a bad pick, “solid”. In the 2nd round they grabbed LB Bernardrick McKinney, he is a physical specimen who can layout a ball carrier if they run DIRECTLY into him, so his lack of movement skills, weaknesses in coverage and subpar instincts were a turnoff to me.  The rest of the draft was full of players that likely won’t contribute except 3rd round choice Jaelen Strong who may be the teams best draft choice. Strong isn’t a burner but he has the ability to make tough contested catches so he could step right in and play.

The Texans have the best defensive player in the NFL and hopefully a healthy Clowney this year. So with that pass rush a smart player like Johnson is a “solid” addition (there goes that word again). So I am guessing you can tell I didn’t like the draft, it was better than Buffalo’s though.  Slightly!  On the bright side if JJ Watt doesn’t singlehandedly win them 6-8 games they will have a shot at Coach Bill O’Brien’s former student Christian Hackenberg or any other top college QB next year.

Jaguars give first round pick Dante Fowler the Max deal today

Dante Fowler will be a beast for the Jaguars

Jacksonville Jaguars  B+

The Jaguars seem to finally be getting this thing right. The selfish side of me would have liked them to add Amari Cooper at #3 overall to give last years top pick Blake Bortles a legit #1 but I guess they can manage with their current cast of #2 and #3 receivers. With their first choice Jacksonville went with Florida DE/OLB Dante Fowler who in true Jag form was hurt during minicamp but he is a talented player with a good mix of power and athletic ability, so we look forward to seeing him in 2016.  In the 2nd round the Jags chose RB TJ Yeldon is an all around RB who could/ should be the teams main back giving them everything Toby Gerhart was incapable of.  3rd round pick G AJ Cann was solid choice, he moves people and will help energize a poor running game.  4th round pick James Sample isn’t a bad player but his scouting report kind of reads the same as current starting Strong Safety Johnathan Cyprien, maybe the team knows something I don’t. Two later round steals that could really elevate the team are 5th round WR Rashad Greene and 6th round DT Michael Bennett. Greene is a reliable slot receiver that finds a way to get open and make plays which is a important piece for a young QB. Bennett can be a disruptive player on the D line when he wants to.

Jacksonville is on the rise and as Bortles improves and the Colts keep having bad drafts the gap between the two should continue to get smaller. Although they could have used a CB or Free Safety, the Jags had a good draft and added more quality players to their roster which is big for a young improving team.

Marcus Mariota was a steal for the Titans at the number 2 pick

Marcus Mariota was a steal for the Titans at the number 2 pick

Tennessee Titans  C+

So let me get this right, the Browns offered picks 12,19 and other choices, the Jets may have offered #6 and Muhammad Wilkerson, and the Eagles offered #20 and their entire starting defense for the#2 pick in the draft and the Titans passed on all of them?  So, Marcus Mariota has to be a franchise QB. In full disclosure I am higher than most (especially the Titans)on former QB Zack Mettenberger but Mariota is a talented QB who has the tools and potential to be a very good player in the league in time. Just not sure this staff has that time, as he transitions from Oregon’s spread offense to the NFL. Moving on, 2nd round choice Dorial Green-Beckham is a huge WR who has elite ability and if he can stay out of trouble will provide Mariota a deep threat that he can just throw the ball up to. 3rd round choice Jeremiah Poutasi will transition to guard from tackle. He is at his best as a run blocker who can maul defenders. 5th round choice David Cobb is a solid back that has no standout skills but does everything well and I wouldn’t be surprised if he takes some of current RB Bishop Sankey’s carries. At this moment I still have no idea why WR Tre McBride lasted until the 7th round but I am sure the Titans aren’t complaining. McBride, who played at William & Mary has great hands and had some of his best games against the best competition.

While I may have taken one of the trade offers or stayed at #2 and picked a position player I can’t fault Tennessee for taking a shot on the QB if they didn’t believe in what they had on their roster.  The Titans made upgrades on every level of their offense adding potential starters, not to mention adding the best FB on the draft Jalston Fowler.  The defensive choices were more reaches, with no sure things and neglecting to add a CB or legit pass rush threat but like my mom used to say “Rome wasn’t built in a day” or Tennessee either I suppose. The Titans may not be good for awhile but they will definitely be a team to watch for the foreseeable future as the Mariota era begins. I was leaning toward a C but the late choices of Cobb and McBride swayed me.

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