Draft Analysis – AFC South

Indianapolis Colts

Although many people expected the Colts to trade down a second time, they stuck with their pick and selected one of the best players in the draft in Quenton Nelson. They later solidified the offensive line with Braden Smith, a great pick that turned the offensive line from a weakness to a strength. While many think he would be better suited in the NFL as a guard, he displays the talent to be a high-caliber tackle. The rest of the second round was defensive oriented, picking Darius Leonard, Kemoko Turay, and Tyquan Lewis. Leonard should be an immediate starter and playmaker at linebacker, while Turay and Lewis are more unknowns. Lewis has interior versatility and Turay has upside off the edge, but both players could easily be busts. Daurice Fountain was a nice pickup late at receiver, but Deon Cain was an even better pick who could emerge as a number one receiver. Nyheim Hines was also a good pick as a versatile third down back, and Jordan Wilkins is high talent sleeper to emerge as the starting running back. Additionally, the defense was in dire need of more starting caliber players, although the whole roster was in need of talent.

B+

Tennessee Titans

The Titans only had four draft picks the whole draft, but they made the most of them by targeting great players. Although they had to trade up for both Rashaan Evans and Harold Landry, both were excellent decisions. The Titans likely stole Evans from the Patriots, while Landry lasted much longer than expected. Evans will be an anchor in the middle of the defense while also providing the ability to play in coverage and rush the passer. Landry should also be able to rack up sacks in a scheme that will allow him to focus purely on rushing the passer. Dane Cruikshank and Luke Falk on day three were both luxury picks for a roster loaded with talent. Cruikshank has the raw size, speed, and football intelligence to succeed, and can sit behind the Titans safeties to develop. Falk was a potential day two pick who slid all the way to the fifth round, and he has the ability to be a high level starter if Mariota gets hurt. Questions about his arm talent caused him to slide, but he will be a high level backup at worst for good value.

A

Jacksonville Jaguars

Outside of a questionable quarterback situation, the Jaguars had only a few needs that they needed to resolve going into the draft. They knocked their first pick out of the park, taking the best player available and a perfect fit. The Eagles showed that a team can never have too many playmakers on the defensive line, and Taven Bryan is a game-wrecker. However, Lamar Jackson was still available, regardless of the Jaguar’s commitment to Blake Bortles. Their next pick was much more shaky, as DJ Chark was a feeble attempt to fix a need, even though he is a good fit in the offense. The Jaguars were in dire need of a possession or jump ball receiver, not another deep threat such as Chark. Projected by some to go as high as the first round, Ronnie Harrison was a good value pick who can be an important piece as an eventual starter. Will Richardson had some off the field issues in college, but showed great potential at both the right tackle and guard positions. The Jaguars got a number of good players, although none of them were in the major positions of need.

C+

Houston Texans

Trading up to acquire Deshaun Watson seems to have been a great move, but it still left the Texans making their first selection in the third round. Justin Reid fell much farther than expected, although his lack of explosive talent prevented the pick from being a steal. There were better players available at positions of need and at safety, and Reid will likely be relegated to backup duties due to a combination of established starters and his lack of talent. However, the creative usage of Tyrann Mathieu could allow him to get playing time. The Texans also had a trio of solid picks on the offensive side of the ball, selecting Martinas Rankin, Jordan Akins, and Keke Coutee in the middle rounds. Rankins should help stabilize the offensive line, as he is a versatile lineman with the ability to be a starter or high end backup. Akins fills a need at tight end, but there were a number of better tight end prospects available. Coutee is an elusive playmaker in the slot, something the Texans have been looking for since the Braxton Miller experiment failed. Meanwhile, snagging Duke Ejiofor in the sixth round was an absolute steal, and he can help give the Texans a dominant rotation of pass rushers that can rival that of the Eagles.

C

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