For years the AFC South has been considered the weakest division in the NFL, but slowly the division is starting to improve.
This year’s NFL Draft appears to have helped those efforts, and we already know that the Colts’ draft looks pretty good. But what about the other three AFC South teams? Let’s take a look at each team’s draft and what it might mean for the Colts.
Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson (1st round)
Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt (2nd round)
D’Onta Foreman, RB, Texas (3rd round)
Julie’n Davenport, OT, Bucknell (4th round)
Carlos Watkins, DT, Clemson (4th round)
Treston DeCoud, S, Oregon State (5th round)
Kyle Fuller, C, Baylor (7th round)
The Texans made a big splash in round one by trading up to the 12th pick to select Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson. He obviously had a terrific collegiate career, though like all of the quarterbacks in this year’s draft there were some doubts about his NFL prospects. Houston is convinced he can be the guy, and while their judgment on quarterbacks shouldn’t really be trusted (they thought Brock Osweiler was the guy last year, after all), it does seem like Watson is going to a great situation with the Texans. They have some pieces on offense to work with, a very good defense, and an offensive-minded coach. And remember, Houston was a playoff team last year with Osweiler at quarterback, so it’s not hard to think that with Watson they can be contenders in the division once again. There were some other real solid and interesting picks by the Texans too, such as Zach Cunningham in the second round.
Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan (1st round)
Adoree’ Jackson, CB, USC (1st round)
Taywan Taylor, WR, Western Kentucky (3rd round)
Jonnu Smith, TE, Florida International (3rd round)
Jayon Brown, LB, UCLA (5th round)
Corey Levin, OL, Tennessee-Chattanooga (6th round)
Josh Carraway, OLB, TCU (7th round)
Brad Seaton, OT, Villanova (7th round)
Khalfani Muhammad, RB, California (7th round)
The Titans had two first round picks, and they used them on a receiver and a cornerback. You can tell just from looking at their draft that they placed an emphasis on surrounding quarterback Marcus Mariota with capable talent, as they spent three of their four picks in the first three rounds on offensive players. They selected two wideouts and a tight end, while on day three they also added two offensive linemen and a running back. The Titans took some significant steps forward last year, and their hope is that they have now added some pieces for Mariota to throw to that could make their offense better. They also added a good corner in Jackson, which should help them on the defensive side of the ball. The Titans did a nice job overall of adding good players, and they should likely continue to improve.
Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU (1st round)
Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama (2nd round)
Dawuane Smoot, DE, Illinois (3rd round)
Dede Westbrook, WR, Oklahoma (4th round)
Blair Brown, LB, Ohio (5th round)
Jalen Myrick, CB, Minnesota (7th round)
Marquez Williams, FB, Miami (OH) (7th round)
The Jaguars also placed an early emphasis on offense, as they selected Leonard Fournett with the fourth overall pick, selected Cam Robinson in the second round, and added Dede Westbrook in the fourth round. All four players could make an impact, and obviously the big name is Fournette, who was a terrific back in college and the top running back taken this year in the draft. Jacksonville also added more talent to an already talented defense, so the main questions about the Jaguars are about their quarterback position and how all of their pieces fit together into a cohesive team. The hope in Jacksonville is that Fournette will help take some of the pressure off of Blake Bortles (and that Cam Robinson could help with the protection for Fournette and Bortles), while Westbrook can be a playmaking target for the quarterback to throw to. The less pressure they put on Bortles the better, so they’re trying to find other ways to generate production on offense.
Overall, here’s what we see in the AFC South: if nothing else, it’s getting far more interesting. Think back to a few years ago and compare that to where the division is now and you’ll see the improvement. Andrew Luck, Marcus Mariota, and Deshaun Watson are now all playing in the AFC South, and that will make for some far more interesting games than we’ve seen in the past (and then there’s Blake Bortles...). I also think the division should keep improving, which is why it’s good that the Colts appear to be joining that group finally now with a good draft class and a good GM in Chris Ballard.
Which team in the AFC South do you think had the best draft? Which draft from the Colts’ division rivals scares you the most as a Colts fan?
Which division rival’s draft scares you the most as a Colts fan?
This poll is closed