Last season the AFC South had two teams make the playoffs. The Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts both had strong seasons and the Colts handled the Texans in the wildcard round. Both the Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars made the post season in 2017 and are fighting to get back into relevance for 2019. We’re still months away from the start of the season but here are some initial draft grades for the AFC South.
AFC South 2019 NFL Draft Grades
Houston Texans: C+
The Houston Texans had some decent picks but there was nothing too flashy. While they did draft positions of need, they didn’t get anyone who was a premier player at their position. Johnson may be the most intriguing haul from the Texans draft. He has good size for a defensive back but also only had two years at Kentucky. He needs development but could turn out well for the Texans. The team also selected two offensive tackles in an effort to protect Deshaun Watson.
Howard should get some starts this season. Warring should be more of a blocking tight end. It will be interesting to see how the team uses their new fullback, Gillaspia who will stay in Texas after being at Texas A&M. Omenihu and Crawford will take some time until pushing for a starting role, but will provide good depth along the defensive line and the back field.
Indianapolis Colts: A
The Indianapolis Colts had a lot of picks in the draft this year. Though they didn’t have a first round selection, they had 10 picks and three were in the second round. All three second rounders should make a decent impact on the team this year. Ya-Sin and Bonogu, a cornerback and linebacker respectively should make the Indy defense stronger. Campbell was in the upper echelon of receivers coming out this year and will make for a good target for Andrew Luck.
After the second round, the Colts continued a defensive trend with the next five picks on that side of the ball. Okereke and Speed are both linebackers and will likely be depth to begin with but will help round out the linebacker group.
In rounds four and five the Colts added depth to the backfield with Willis and Tell. Willis, a safety out of Michigan State is a good leader and hard worker. He’ll be a backup but a good presence on the team. Tell has been listed as both a cornerback and safety but he’s also undersized and should add weight in the NFL. Green is more of a practice squad candidate as he needs to polish his pass rushing skills.
The Colts final two picks were offensive lineman. Both Barton and Patterson would be lucky to make the 53 man roster but should be good competition during the off season.
Jacksonville Jaguars: A-
One could argue that the Jacksonville Jaguars had two steals in the 2019 NFL Draft. Allen was not supposed to fall to seven but he did. Thought of as a top five pick, the Jags were able to take the best player available and have a good replacement for Dante Fowler. Then the Jags snagged Taylor, who many people mocked to the team, but in the first round. They essentially ended up with two firsts without having to give up much.
The team filled a hole at tight end by picking Oliver out of San Jose State. He isn’t the most experienced tight end but has good hands and could develop into a nice weapon on offense. Williams at linebacker was a surprise given his lack of notoriety but could be a sneaky good pick. Armstead is a good sized back that will push to be Leonard Fournette‘s back up. Minshew was productive at Washington State and should move into the back up role over Cody Kessler, not to mention becoming a fan favorite. Russell is more of practice squad candidate as he needs to polish his game as a defensive lineman.
Tennessee Titans: A
Players added: Jefferey Simmons, A.J. Brown, Nate Davis, Amani Hooker, D’Andre Walker, and David Long Jr.
Whereas the Colts had 10 picks, the Tennesse Titans had only six selections in this years draft. Their first pick was the talented Jefferey Simmons. Simmons is a defensive lineman who is high risk, high reward. He may miss time due to a torn ACL and he also was involved in an fight in 2016 that there was video evidence of.
The Titans second round pick was A.J. Brown. He plays both outside and in the slot and was a good add for the Titans. The next round saw the team take their second offensive player. Davis will play at guard and doesn’t give up much pressures to opposing teams.
The Titans final three picks were all defenders. Hooker (safety), Walker (outside linebacker), and Long (linebacker) should all be depth to start out their careers. In time they could start and provide more power to an already stout defense.
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