NFL Draft Team Needs: AFC South
The Eagles just broke a run of three straight Super Bowls for the AFC and the consensus is that the NFC has developed into the stronger and deeper conference. Indeed, five of the bottom-six teams in the league last year were in the AFC. But as My Top Sportsbooks points out, the balance of power could shift back soon since those bottom-feeding teams are likely to get their hands on this year’s top QBs in the draft. The Browns are going to take either Sam Darnold or Josh Allen at #1; the Jets will likely select whoever is left between Darnold/Allen/Josh Rosen at #3, and the Broncos could wind up with Rosen or Baker Mayfield at #5. Not all of those top QB prospects will develop into stars, but one or two will hit, helping the AFC counter the rising stars of Carson Wentz and Jared Goff in the years to come.
Time is ticking and every day we get closer and closer to the NFL draft. Some teams, like the Cleveland Browns, have made many moves in the offseason, but others have not. The draft is the time for teams to really shape their lineup going into next season.
In the AFC South, we have the first-place Jacksonville Jaguars. The 2017 season was one of the best in franchise history for this team. They had one of the best defenses in the NFL and their offense was better than it was ever expected to be. By acquiring free agent guard Andrew Norwell in the offseason, Jacksonville has addressed their biggest need. They now have a backup quarterback, Cody Kessler, so getting another quarterback should not be their focus going into the draft. Picking up a solid receiver and tight end will most likely be the Jaguars’ target areas. A couple possible picks that we could see Jacksonville make would be to select Texas A&M receiver Christian Kirk, or tight end Mike Gisecki from Penn State. The offense will no doubt be the focus for this already talented team.
Next up is the Tennessee Titans, who finished their season in second place in the AFC South. This past season they made the playoffs for the first time since 2008. They defeated the Kansas City Chiefs in the Wild Card game but then lost to the New England Patriots in the divisional round. Their biggest need in this draft is to improve the pass rush. Adding an edge runner in the first round could also be something to consider. With the loss of Avery Williamson, the team will also have to find an inside linebacker. Adding receivers will not hurt either to help Marcus Mariota. This would make their offense so much stronger next season. The Titans have the number 25 pick in the first round of the draft, and although there are many options that they could utilize, it will be interesting to see which one they go with.
The Houston Texans had a rough season last year due to unfortunate circumstances. They started off well but then lost both J.J. Watt and Deshaun Watson to injuries. After the two key players went down, the Texans were unable to recover. They lost 11 of the last 12 games of the season and did not even come close to qualifying for a playoff spot. In the draft, their biggest concern will be to add a very talented left tackle to protect Watson. They recently added Tyrann Mathieu to their lineup which should help the defense which struggled significantly last season. They could also look for more depth at the running back position. Touching the defense initially would be a mistake because their offense is what needs the most work. Their first pick is number 68 overall.
Finally, we have the Indianapolis Colts. As we all know, this past season was clearly not their year. They lost quarterback Andrew Luck before the season even started due to right shoulder surgery. The team went 4-12 which was only the second losing season for the franchise since 2011. They finished in 31st place in the NFL in total offense and dead last in yards per play and passing offense. Since they have not made many moves during the free agency period, they must really rely on this draft if they want to build a successful team. The offensive line needs many upgrades, especially if they want to keep Luck healthy and successful. They also should address cornerback, linebacker, and a running back while they are at it. The Colts hold four of the first 49 picks of the draft, so their chances of acquiring what they need are very likely.
We have seen teams waste their draft picks, but we have also seen teams use their picks wisely and create a better team from them. It will be very interesting to see who makes the right decisions in the draft and who acquires the players they need. You will not want to miss it!