The AFC South just turned into one of the toughest divisions in this conference within the last year. The draft definitely will make or break a team and I think it did just that for these four teams. This is nearing the end of my grading and analysis before I begin my journey elsewhere! The AFC South consists of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts and Tennessee Titans.
3. Justin Reid, Safety, Stanford with the 68th pick
3. Martinas Rankin, Tackle/Guard, Mississippi State with the 80th pick
3. Jordan Akins, Tight End, UCF with the 98th pick
4. Keke Coutee, Wide Receiver, Texas Tech with the 103rd pick
6. Duke Ejiofor, Outside Linebacker, Wake Forest with the 177th pick
6. Jordan Thomas, Tight End, Mississippi State with the 211th pick
6. Peter Kalambayi, Linebacker, Stanford with the 214th pick
7. Jermaine Kelly, Cornerback, San Jose State with the 222nd
I believe both Reid and Rankin will be starters this season for the Texans. Reid has an insane amount of athletic ability and ball skills. While, Rankin was one of the top lineman in the SEC and will push for snaps at both Tackle and Guard. Akins was another outstanding selection because not only does Akins fill a major need for the offense, but he is also insanely athletic. Although he is 26 years old already after spending time with the Rangers organization, I still believe he will be a dominant factor for the offense. Coutee has a history of making big plays down field and will definitely be a factor for a young group of players. Ejiofor has elite pass rushing ability and will make a good rotation player on the defense. Overall with the minimal picks the Texans had I believe they made the best of the opportunity.
1. Taven Bryan, Defensive Tackle, Florida with the 29th pick
2. D.J. Chark, Wide Receiver, LSU with the 61st pick
3. Ronnie Harrison, Safety, Alabama with the 93rd pick
4. Will Richardson, Offensive Tackle, NC State with the 129th pick
6. Tanner Lee, Quarterback, Nebraska with the 203rd pick
7. Leon Jacobs, Linebacker, Wisconsin with the 230th pick
7. Logan Cooke, Punter, Mississippi State with the 247th pick
Taven Bryan fits the Jaguars defensive scheme almost perfectly even though he is not playing to his best ability yet. Chark will likely be a role player who will be a deep ball threat. Harrison will learn from Barry Church who is 30 years old this year and likely take over within the next year or two. Richardson will likely make an effort to play left tackle sooner than expected, while both Jacobs and Cooke will be special teams contributors.
1. Quenton Nelson, Offensive Guard, Notre Dame with the 6th pick
2. Darius Leonard, Linebacker, South Carolina State with the 36th pick
2. Braden Smith, Offensive Guard, Auburn with the 37th pick
2. Kemoko Turay, Defensive End, Rutgers with the 52nd pick
3. Tyquan Lewis, Defensive End, Ohio State with the 64th pick
4. Nyheim Hines, Running Back, NC State with the 104th pick
5. Daurice Fountain, Wide Receiver, Northern Iowa with the 159th pick
5. Jordan Wilkins, Running Back, Ole Miss with 169th pick
6. Deon Cain, Wide Receiver, Clemson with the 185th pick
7. Matthew Adams, Linebacker, Houston with the 221st pick
7. Zaire Franklin, Linebacker, Syracuse with the 235th pick
The Colts definitely focused on protecting Andrew Luck during this draft. Taking two of the top interior lineman in the draft in both Nelson and Smith allows for the Colts to protect Luck and generate a run game. Leonard, Turay, and Lewis will automatically make an impact on the defense. Turay is an outstanding defender with a lot of raw talent and upside. Both Fountain and Cain add depth and talent to a very thin wide receiver group. Hines has a lot of versatility and will be a force out of the backfield. Both Adams and Franklin will likely both see roles on special teams to start their careers.
1. Rashaan Evans, Linebacker, Alabama with the 22nd pick
2. Harold Landry, Outside Linebacker, Boston College with the 41st pick
5. Dane Cruikshank, Safety, Arizona with the 152nd pick
6. Luke Falk, Quarterback, Washington State with the 199th pick
Falk gives the Titans a quality backup quarterback behind Marcus Mariota. Both Evans and Landry will make major impacts on defense. Landry was a very athletic edge rusher in college and Evans fills a huge role on the inside with the loss of Williamson to free agency. Cruikshank was one of the top secondary prospects in the draft and gives the Titans both experience at safety and on corner. The Titans made the most of the couple picks they had during this draft after trading up on two separate occasions.