Saturday, April 21, 2012

2012 Draft Preview: AFC South

With Free Agency pretty much wrapped up, the NFL Draft is quickly approaching once again. As we have done in the past, we're going to take a quick look at the other teams in the league and preview their team needs and how they will likely approach the Draft. Today we take a look at the AFC South.

For reference, we compiled the draft picks each team currently has. Compensatory picks are listed in parentheses.

2011 Record: 10-6
AFC South Champions, Lost to Baltimore in Divisional Round

Draft Picks: 26, 58, 76, 99, 121, 161, 195, 233

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It finally happened. The Texans finally broke through and took the reigns of the AFC South. Even with a rookie 3rd-string quarterback leading the way, Houston (mainly on the strength of Arian Foster and a revitalized defense) won the South. The renovation on defense continued this offseason as former defensive leader Mario Williams was let loose in free agency and Demeco Ryans was traded to Philadelphia. Under Wade Phillips, the Texans evolved into a 3-4 and OLB Connor Barwin exploded with 11.5 sacks. While Andre Johnson is one of the best receivers in the league, Houston needs somebody else that can be a reliable target and draw the attention of the defense. Addressing some holes along the offensive line should also be in the cards, along with adding scheme-specific players for their 3-4 look as they enter the 2nd year with Phillips as Defensive Coordinator.

2011 Record: 9-7

Draft Picks: 20, 52, 82, 115, 155, 190, 227

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The Titans had an up-and-down year, barely missing the playoffs on a head-to-head tiebreaker with the Bengals. Even though Matt Hasselbeck started all 16 games, last year's first round pick Jake Locker showed promise when he got in games. The Titans made two big moves in free agency, adding OG Steve Hutchinson from Minnesota and DE Kamerion Wimbley from Oakland. Tennessee still needs help on defense - on the line to replace DT Jason Jones, at linebacker to replace all the guys they have lost the past few years, and in the secondary to replace CB Courtland Finnegan. It's a pretty safe bet Tennessee will draft defensive players early and often this year.

2011 Record: 5-11

Draft Picks: 7, 38, 70, 101, 142, 176, 228

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The Jaguars shuffled through quarterbacks last year before finally settling on rookie first round pick Blaine Gabbert who was thoroughly unimpressive. Gabbert will enter this season as the starter and with a full offseason under his belt. As long as MJD doesn't hold out for a contract extension, this team will have its offensive work-horse and not have to put the ball in Gabbert's hands. The Jags went out and added some weapons (WRs Laurent Robinson and Lee Evans) along with a backup QB (Chad Henne) in free agency. The Jags still need help, particularly in the pass rushing department where they ranked 25th in sacks. The addition of Robinson should help their league-worst passing offense, but adding more weapons at receiver is a must.

2011 Record: 2-14

Draft Picks: 1, 34, 64, 97, 136, (170), (206), 208, 214, (253)

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In all honesty, the Colts should feel like they won the lottery. Sure, they had to suffer through a year without Peyton Manning where it seemed unlikely they would win at all for much of the year. But now, a new era begins with Chuck Pagano as head coach and Andrew Luck under center. Luck played in a power running offense in college, so we'll see how well he can translate into Bruce Arians' school-yard offense.

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