Thursday, April 21, 2011
Draft Watch: AFC South
By Paul Kuharsky
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Each Thursday leading up to the NFL draft (April 28-30), the ESPN.com NFL blog network will take a division-by-division look at key aspects of the draft. Today's topic: Dream scenario/Plan B.
Dream scenario: A run on quarterbacks means the team has more to choose from on defense, and while Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller is too much to hope for, North Carolina’s Robert Quinn is there for them to snatch up at No. 11. Quinn would be inserted as a starting outside linebacker in the new 3-4 scheme run by defensive coordinator Wade Phillips.
Plan B: A trade down with someone looking to come up for a quarterback would be nice, as the Texans could use extra picks to replenish the defense. In such a scenario, a spot in the middle or high 20s could be used on an outside linebacker like Georgia’s Justin Houston, UCLA’s Akeem Ayers or Arizona’s Brooks Reed. But if they remain at No. 11, Missouri’s Aldon Smith is a guy who could help them.
Dream scenario: They may not value an offensive tackle with the 22nd pick, but it seems like it’s time that they should. Ideally, they’d have their choice between Wisconsin’s Gabe Carimi, Boston College’s Anthony Castonzo and Colorado’s Nate Solder. Carimi, who got great experience at Wisconsin, gets the nod from a team that is in the middle of Big Ten country.
Plan B: Who’s the value guy who’s slipped? That’s the man the Colts are most likely to pounce on, but I can’t predict who it’ll be. A quality defensive tackle can do a lot for the defense, and if Illinois’ Corey Liuget is still available, he could be a guy the Colts like. He’s drawn comparisons to Anthony McFarland, and while McFarland didn’t work out well, the qualities he had that were appealing are still appealing.
Dream scenario: Even for a dream, the idea of a safety worthy of the 16th overall pick is far-fetched. So we’ll move past that. If they love a quarterback, they could have some appealing options. Otherwise, I see GM Gene Smith sticking with his foundation-building plan, and that would mean a defensive end. If they want bigger, it’s Wisconsin’s J.J. Watt. If they want faster, it’s Purdue’s Ryan Kerrigan. Aldon Smith would also be an option. Picking among all three would be a great spot.
Plan B: We’ll stick with the foundation plan and turn to the interior offensive line. Florida’s Mike Pouncey could be a rock at guard or center (if he can learn to snap) for a long time and looks to be the sort of fixture the Jaguars would love to stock the roster with.
Dream scenario: Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert slips to No. 8 while a team or two jump up to grab non-quarterbacks in the top seven. The Titans would have their quarterback of the future, with offensive coordinator Chris Palmer set to tutor Gabbert as soon as the lockout ends, while the pressure to get a veteran who can hold down the fort eases a bit since the Titans get one of the top rookies.
Plan B: With the top two quarterbacks gone, the Titans address defense and hope Auburn tackle Nick Fairley can be an impact guy whose interior play can have a positive bearing on the other 10 defenders on the field with him.