Time to round off the AFC today by looking at the AFC South.
Round 3: (No. 68 overall) Justin Reid, S, Stanford; (No. 80) Martinas Rankin, OL, Mississippi State;(No. 98) Jordan Akins, TE, Central Florida.
Round 4: (No. 103) Keke Coutee, WR, Texas Tech.
Round 6: (No. 177) Duke Ejiofor, DE, Wake Forest; (No. 211) Jordan Thomas, TE, Mississippi State; (No. 214) Peter Kalambayi, EDGE, Stanford.
Round 7: (No. 222) Jermaine Kelly, DB, San Jose State.
Houston didn’t have many picks at the top of this draft due to a combination of shipping Brock Osweiler out and bringing Deshaun Watson in last year. I think we can all agree that that was a decent couple of moves at QB!
I like their first pick in taking Justin Reid. He showed in his time at Standford that he can be a ballhawk and will make a nice compliment to the Honey Badger! They also got good value for him in picking him in the third round. He’s another player I expected to go during the middle of the second round.
The Texans have a need at tackle and it looks as though Rankin could fill that need. He’s listed as a centre but played tackle at Mississipi state and earned good reviews. He’s by no means a franchise tackle but could do a job. Coutee is a speed receiver who can take the top off a defence from the slot position, could also help at in the return game.
Round 1: (No. 6 overall) Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame.
Round 2: (No. 36) Darius Leonard, LB, South Carolina State; (No. 37) Braden Smith, G, Auburn; (No. 52) Kemoko Turay, EDGE, Rutgers; (No. 64) Tyquan Lewis, DE, Ohio State.
Round 4: (No. 104) Nyheim Hines, RB, N.C. State.
Round 5: (No. 159) Daurice Fountain, WR, Northern Iowa; (No. 169) Jordan Wilkins, RB, Mississippi.
Round 6: (No. 185) Deon Cain, WR, Clemson.
Round 7: (No. 221) Matthew Adams, LB, Houston; (No. 235) Zaire Franklin, LB, Syracuse.
There was a lot going on over the course of the draft with this team. Way before things got kicked off they switched first round picks with the Jets, acquiring three second round picks in the process (the last of which will be taken next year). I’m a big fan of their pick at six. I advocated for the Colts to help out what I hope will be a fit again Andrew Luck by getting him some protection and they did just that. Nelson looks like the type of guard that will be an all-pro sooner rather than later. I like that they doubled down on the guard position when they took Smith in the second round. The interior of the line looks pretty decent now.
Also in the second round the Colts bolstered their pass rush with the picks of Turay and Lewis. The Colts finished 31st in sacks last year and the addition of these two will be the start of the help on that front. The linebacker position was also addressed when they picked Leonard towards the top of the second. Leonard is a sideline to sideline defender which will be needed in their new 4-3 defence. More reinforcements came in during the seventh round, whilst it remains to be seen if either of those make the final cut.
At WR, the Colts picked two underrated but high potential players in Fountain and Cain. Both have good speed, Cain in particular has high top end speed which could see him create a lot of separation and give Luck a good target deep. The one miss on offence was for me was not taking a running back higher in the draft. It still puts Marlon Mack as the No.1 option which is hardly inspiring!
Round 1: (No. 29 overall) Taven Bryan, DT, Florida.
Round 2: (No. 61) D.J. Chark, WR, LSU.
Round 3: (No. 93) Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama.
Round 4: (No. 129) Will Richardson, T, N.C. State.
Round 6: (No. 203) Tanner Lee, QB, Nebraska.
Round 7: (No. 230) Leon Jacobs, EDGE, Wisconsin; (No. 247) Logan Cooke, P, Mississippi State.
The Jags had a great 2017 season, few expected them to make the AFC Championship game and bar a bit of luck at the end they might have even beaten the Patriots. Their strength is undoubtedly their defence, and as part of that, their pass rush. ‘Sacksonville’ they were coined. So no need to strengthen up front, right? Well they took a leaf out of the Eagles playbook and loaded up even further on the defensive line with their first-round pick. The Colts new O-Line might be very busy with this lot.
Ronnie Harrison can play either safety position and has great play recognition skills. Those two traits alone could see him get on the field a fair bit in 2018. He’ll be a useful addition to an already star-studded backfield. Damn this defence looks good on paper!
In the second round, they took one of my favourite receivers in DJ Chark. Chark has size and an abundance of speed, couple him with Moncrief and that’s not a bad couple of receivers for Bortles to mis-throw throw to. The Jags want to run the ball and control the clock and having a receiver with the pace of Chark will help the defenders move out of the box.
Round 1: (No. 22 overall) Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama.
Round 2: (No. 41) Harold Landry, EDGE, Boston College.
Round 5: (No. 152) Dane Cruikshank, S, Arizona.
Round 6: (No. 199) Luke Falk, QB, Washington State.
Not a whole load of picks in the draft this year but the Titans did some good work with them. They were in desperate need of a middle linebacker following the departure of Avery Williamson and Evans will slot straight in from day one. The pass rush in Tennessee was getting old and Landry will add new blood to that group. 16.5 sacks in 2016 led to him being the standout player going in to the 2017 season but injuries led him to drop to the second round in the draft. This could be the steal of the draft if he returns to 2016 form.
Falk in the 6th round was another good value pick for a player some had pegged as high as the 3rd. He’ll develop into a quality second string QB who will backup an injury prone Mariota.