- Paul Kuharsky, ESPN Staff Writer
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Six positions around the league that needed addressing didn’t get attention in the draft.
Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. gives them attention in this piece. A third of his areas of concern come out of the AFC South.
Here’s what he says, along with my thoughts:
Indianapolis Colts: Defense
Williamson: “Rome wasn't built in a day, and clearly the Colts decided to focus on surrounding Andrew Luck with a strong young supporting cast rather than building their defense, which will be transitioning from a fast-flowing Cover 2 scheme with smallish players at every position to a versatile scheme in the mold of Baltimore's defense that features power and strength. That is a very difficult transition to make. Indianapolis' first pick on the defensive side of the ball was made on Josh Chapman in Round 5. That pick presented great value for the long term, as Chapman has the makeup for nose tackle in the Colts' 3-4 or as a space-eating defensive tackle in their four-man front.
“But after that selection, Indianapolis used just one more pick on defense, grabbing Tim Fugger with the 214th pick overall. The Colts very well could have the worst defense in the NFL in 2012, but the reality is I can't be critical of what they did on draft day, as building around a young first-round quarterback is the correct decision. Rebuilding the defense will have to be a job for another day, but it will be a massive job indeed, as I see only a few players currently on the Colts' roster who can be projected as long-term answers in their new defensive scheme.”
My thoughts: I line up with Williamson’s thinking here. There is a lot of work to be done on defense, but the Colts simply didn’t have the free-agent spending money or the number of draft picks needed to sufficiently fill all the holes on both sides of the ball. So they started on offense. Next year I suspect it’ll be slanted the other way.
Tennessee Titans: Interior offensive line
Williamson: “The Titans didn't use one draft pick on an offensive lineman this year. Although they are set at both tackle spots, the interior of their offensive line needed to be upgraded. It was easy to blame Chris Johnson for his effort -- or lack thereof -- early in the 2011 season, but the blocking provided for him was far from ideal. Tennessee did add Steve Hutchinson to start at left guard. Hutchinson certainly isn't what he once was, especially as a run-blocker, but he does know every trick of the trade and should be a positive influence to this line and the offense in general.
“Interestingly enough, the Titans were as good collectively pass blocking as they were poor with run blocking. But my worries are at right guard and especially center, where Leroy Harris and Eugene Amano are the respective starters. Like the rest of their linemates, these two struggled to open holes for Johnson but did a fine job protecting Matt Hasselbeck. But I also contend that Hasselbeck is one of those quick-witted veteran quarterbacks who excels at masking problems with his protection.”
“If and when Jake Locker is going to take over behind center, Tennessee will need to effectively run the football. The Titans' offensive line depth is about as poor as any team's in the NFL, which made the lack of attention given to the guys up front even more curious, especially considering who Tennessee's head coach is.”
My thoughts: Mike Munchak and Bruce Matthews are Hall of Fame offensive linemen. They continue to get the benefit of the doubt. But if this line doesn’t run block substantially better early on in this season, that benefit of the doubt will start to evaporate and be replaced by a different idea -- that they are too close to guys like Amano and Harris to recognize the need to upgrade.