AFC South: Josh Freedman
Opened my mailbox Wednesday (the kind outside at the end of a driveway), found Albert Pujols on the cover of Sports Illustrated, flipped inside to Jim Trotter's mid-March mock draft, scanned it, and immediately had this thought:
That's a nightmare scenario for the Jaguars.
In Trotter's draft, the top two offensive tackles, the top two receivers and the top defensive tackle are all gone before the Jaguars come around at No. 8. He's got them taking Ohio State cornerback Malcolm Jenkins, a player I'm hearing has sinking stock.
I'll bet the Jaguars are hoping things don't pan out like this projection.
Here's a mock-by-mock roundup of the AFC South, with some thoughts splashed in.
Jacksonville, No. 8
Kiper: Quarterback Mark Sanchez, USC
McShay: Receiver, Michael Crabtree, Texas Tech
Banks: Quarterback Mark Sanchez, USC
Rang: Quarterback Josh Freeman, Kansas State
Reuter: Offensive tackle Michael Oher, Mississippi
Prisco: Quarterback Matthew Stafford, Georgia
My thoughts: There are two ways to view a quarterback pick here (and I think Freeman would be a stretch) considering the Jaguars are just a year removed from a big contract for David Garrard. It's a smart move for new GM Gene Smith, who was not the decision-maker when that deal was made, if he's not sold on Garrard. Or it's a major white flag for an organization that was sure it had a long-term guy less than 12 months ago. Prisco's got as good a read on the Jags as anyone, so put stock in his thinking here. But boy they have other spots in which they need help. I don't think Crabtree will be there at No. 8, but he'd be hard to resist no matter who the QB is.
Houston, No. 15
Kiper: Outside linebacker Brian Cushing, USC
McShay: Defensive end Robert Ayers, Tennessee
Trotter: Cornerback Vontae Davis, Illinois
Banks: Linebacker Clay Mathews, USC
Rang: Running back Chris Wells, Ohio State
Prisco: Receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey, Maryland
My thoughts: Hearing more and more linebacker talk, and if Cushing or Matthews is judged the value, I'd have no beef. I think it's got to be a defender. But if Heyward-Bey is what he appeared to be at the combine, I'd ask the same question Prisco does -- could you imagine him paired with Andre Johnson?
Indianapolis, No. 27
Kiper: Defensive tackle Peria Jerry, Mississippi
McShay: Defensive tackle Evander Hood, Missouri
Trotter: Linebacker James Laurinaitis, Ohio State
My thoughts: It's easy to give the Colts the best defensive tackle or outside linebacker left here. But I think they will have more good options to choose from at wide receiver and won't be surprised by virtually anything considering how Bill Polian goes with best player available regardless of need.
Tennessee, No. 30
Kiper: Defensive end Everette Brown, Florida State
McShay: Receiver Hakeem Nicks, North Carolina
Trotter: Defensive end Tyson Jackson, LSU
Rang: Cornerback Darius Butler, Connecticut:
My thoughts: Right now, cornerback is the biggest need, but one signing and the Titans won't be desperate for anything. Still, they don't value middle linebackers like a lot of other teams, so I just don't see Laurinaitis. And while they could go Ayers, Brown or Jackson if he's the best on their board, they have a pretty deep pool of defensive ends. The guy who slips and everyone wonders how he's still there, that's who I think they'll take.