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Sunday, April 29, 2012
A peek at Kiper's AFC South draft grades

By Paul Kuharsky
ESPN.com

Grading drafts is one of those things -- a ton of people object to the concept, but then they read every word eagerly.

Acknowledging that, we share what we can from the ESPN.com Insider file of Mel Kiper Insider.

Indianapolis Colts

Overall grade: A-

Kiper: "Think the Colts were concerned about building a supporting cast for Andrew Luck? They showed an unbelievable commitment to Luck, adding the top two tight ends in the draft in Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen (Luck is used to two-TE sets), a burner in T.Y. Hilton who could become a gem in the slot and even got a possible late steal with Lavon Brazill way down the board. Josh Chapman hits a big need on the interior of that defensive line, and I've even heard really positive assessments of his health situation after he actually played some games without an ACL in 2011. Colleague Trent Dilfer noted that getting all these pass-catching pieces now is a good way to develop early chemistry and give Luck a chance to succeed earlier than we suspected given the state of the lineup going into the draft. I'd make this grade a good one with Luck alone. But the Colts did that one better. They had a plan and I came away impressed."

Jacksonville Jaguars

Overall grade: C

Kiper: "Give the Jaguars credit for hitting needs with their top two picks. Justin Blackmon isn't a guy you want to have to trade up for, but it didn't cost Jacksonville dearly, and the Jaguars had to find a receiver to complement Laurent Robinson. If they didn't get Blackmon or Michael Floyd, they would have been no closer to knowing if Blaine Gabbert can develop into a franchise quarterback. Andre Branch can start early. He's better when he goes wide -- he won't be able to rush through tackles -- but he's a viable guy for a team lacking any punch in the pass rush. Bryan Anger was the top punter on my board, but taking him in the third round, with several guys who profile as potential starting right tackles available? I didn't like that pick. The Jags also didn't adequately address the secondary. Their only pick at corner or safety was Mike Harris. He was my No. 27 corner prospect."

Tennessee Titans

Overall grade: C+

Kiper: "Tennessee goes into 2012 with a vastly improved group of wide receivers. I didn't see this as a top need, but with Kenny Britt back, the addition of Kendall Wright means Jake Locker has the necessary weapons to succeed if he starts the season. If you know you have the weapons, you can better assess if you truly have your franchise quarterback. I can see the strategy. Wright was no steal, however. I thought it was possible he could fall to Round 2. Zach Brown is an athlete, but he's not physical at all. He's better chasing down plays from the weak side than he will be taking on blocks. Taylor Thompson will be a fun one to watch as he converts to tight end. He caught passes there in high school, so it won't be a foreign concept. Coty Sensabaugh has a chance to stick, but I expected earlier urgency for a cornerback. Markelle Martin might be the best value pick for Tennessee at No. 190."

Houston Texans

Overall grade: B

Kiper: "I had Whitney Mercilus as a good fit at defensive end as high as No. 19 with the Bears, so he's a pretty good value at No. 26. He isn't Mario Williams, but the defense made a huge leap in 2011, and the Texans clearly want to make sure Wade Phillips has the tools he needs. He's not a great value at No. 68 overall, but I'm intrigued by the DeVier Posey pick. He had to sit out so many games last year I don't think scouts saw enough of him. He has really good hands, can create some matchup problems, and might be a little underrated in his ability to stretch the field. I also really like Keshawn Martin. He creates space and should stick with this team. Ben Jones and Brandon Brooks help the interior of that offensive line. I was surprised the Texans didn't get a linebacker. At one time I saw Jared Crick as a second-rounder. If he regains form, that's a good value in the fourth."