Here’s an AFC South window into Gary Horton’s Insider file on team-by-team AFC needs.
Horton’s got linebackers third: “This will be a 3-4 defense under Wade Phillips and that will require pass-rushing outside linebackers. Connor Barwin is the Texans' only player who fits that description. Not only do they need a starter, but they probably also need a second guy to add depth to this unit.”
My thoughts: Horton says safety ranks first and corner second, and I am fine with that because they do have cornerbacks, but after cutting Eugene Wilson, there is a hole at free safety. I think two new starting safeties and a veteran corner who could knock everyone’s role down a peg would be ideal.
Horton lists tight end among the team’s other needs. I understand Owen Daniels could disappear, but the team has four tight ends, three drafted in the fourth and fifth round in the past two years. It’s time to use those guys, not add to them.
Horton’s got defensive tackle second: “This is still one of the worst run defenses in the NFL, and it lacks an elite player inside who can hold his own at the point of attack. Fili Moala is a good, young player, but Daniel Muir and Antonio Johnson don't make enough plays, and both could be gone in free agency.”
My thoughts: Tackle is regarded as the top need by him, by me, by just about everyone. I like the defensive tackle thinking. I hope they re-sign Melvin Bullitt, which makes safety only a depth need. I’m not convinced they need a running back, which he lists as an additional need, and I’d re-sign Joseph Addai and use that pick for yet another line upgrade.
As for quarterback, which he lists as another additional need – why? Peyton Manning’s new deal will be five or six years and his backup gets no snaps to develop. It’s too early to try to develop his successor.
Horton’s got defensive end first: “Jacksonville used its first four picks in last year's draft on its defensive front and did not improve much. If veteran Aaron Kampman returns healthy from a 2010 injury, it will help, but this group doesn't have pass-rushers, and that exposes a mediocre secondary in coverage.”
My thoughts: There is no way anything but safety can rank first, and Horton’s got the position second even while saying they “may” need two new ones. There is no maybe about it to me, and it’s the top priority. They used their top four picks on defensive linemen and signed Kampman last year. How many swings do they need? Fix the "mediocre secondary."
Horton’s got defensive back third, and receiver, outside linebacker and quarterback in the additional column. Let’s not underestimate the need for a signal-caller to develop. I see one by the third round.
Horton’s got OG/Center second behind quarterback: “The interior of this offensive line struggles, which is not good when you have a run-oriented attack with Chris Johnson. Leroy Harris needs to be upgraded at left guard, as well as Eugene Amano at center, and the Titans need two powerful run-blockers.”
My thoughts: Mike Munchak was the offensive line coach and says he believes the interior will improve. I don’t envision the team spending a value pick or free agent dollars addressing the spot.
Quarterback is priority one, then it’s defense. Horton’s got inside linebacker third and outside linebacker as an additional need. The Titans need to revamp the spot, for a second year in a row and find some plays. Defensive tackle size is a need that should rate higher than “other.” I'd put it up there with quarterback and linebacker.