AFC South: Peria Jerry
I think my blog network brethren would say the same thing I do: Most of my thinking in our combined mock draft came from an educated connecting of the dots that combines what I know about my teams’ draft philosophies, what I know of teams' needs, who’s available in this context, what I’ve been told, what my gut says and what I've been calling for.
So Kevin Seifert over at the NFC North isn’t saying Andy Dalton is the 12th-best player in the draft. He’s reiterating what he’s been writing about how quarterbacks have to have a higher value and how Minnesota has to have one.
Three of my four picks for the AFC South line up with what I’d call the conventional thinking at this point. Maybe I outsmart myself with the Colts, but I’ll explain myself in a second.
Here’s a bit more than I was able to offer in my comments in the mock, which you’ll find here.
Titans at No. 8 – Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn
I think the defensive rebuild has to go inside-out. I think the character concerns on Fairley are overblown or are something that line coach Tracy Rocker, who worked with him at Auburn, and defensive coordinator Jerry Gray can handle. I think that the Titans can find ways to turn him into a consistently productive player. But maybe this match is too easy. The alternatives would be a defensive end, though Da'Quan Bowers has dropped for them because of his knee, or quarterback if they choose to be bold.
Texans at No. 11 – Aldon Smith, DE-OLB, Missouri
Somehow, I sense that Smith has become unpopular with a good share of Texans fans. His name certainly lacks the juice of Von Miller or Robert Quinn. But plenty of teams would like to get their hands on Smith, who’s an intriguing option as an outside linebacker in Houston’s new 3-4 defensive front. He’s got intriguing size at 6-foot-4, 263 pounds. The best defensive player in this scenario may be Wisconsin’s J.J. Watt, but rushing the passer is not what he does best and that’s what the Texans need most.
Jaguars at No. 16 – Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue
Too easy a fit? Perhaps. But when GM Gene Smith said last week that there are a lot of guys who, like Kerrigan, fit into the formula he likes, there is no doubting that Kerrigan does. Still, who among us saw Smith taking Tyson Alualu at No. 10 last season? We could see another surprise. Smith loaded up on defensive linemen last year. If he takes Kerrigan or another end now, it should be the last defensive linemen for a while, and he should move on to secondary and receiver help. Cameron Jordan, Adrian Clayborn and Cameron Heyward are all heavier. But with a rugged interior, the Jaguars need speed more than size.
Colts at No. 22 – Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois
Everyone and everything says offensive line. And I could have taken Nate Solder, Gabe Carimi or Derek Sherrod here. I just think the odds of Bill Polian doing what we all expect are low. While there will be one and should be more than one offensive linemen for Indianapolis in this draft, Polian won’t let the need steer him. Two years ago we all had the Colts liking Peria Jerry, but he went to Atlanta three spots before Indy took Donald Brown. I hear Liuget is a better fit that Jerry would have been. More interior push helps Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis and Liuget would help the run defense.
Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky
- Rick Gosselin's final mock draft.
- Jay Glazer's final mock draft.
- A 32 questions draft edition from Mike Silver.
- Mike Freeman lists 100 things he'd rather do than watch the draft.
- Jerome Solomon says Bob McNair and the Texans have gotten better at this.
- Players out of Texas taken high in the first round are hardly a sure thing, writes John McClain.
- Past picks at No. 15 have been more fizzle than sizzle, says McClain.
- McClain's final mock still has the Texans taking Clay Matthews.
- Lance Zierlein makes a couple trades in his mock.
- Bob Kravitz says this is when Bill Polian earns his money.
- Free-agent corner Keiwan Ratliff signed with the Steelers, says Mike Chappell.
- The Colts will watch a lot of things sort out before they get a sense of their possibilities at No. 27, writes Chappell.
- No. 2 and No. 1 on John Oehser's list of the top 25 picks of the Polian era. This was a great idea that gave us a lot to ponder over the last several weeks.
- Oehser reviews mock prognostications for the Colts.
- Curse insurance. Peyton Manning's not the Madden cover boy.
- June 6 is the day the Colts will hold an open practice at Franklin College. Tickets will be $10, says Oehser.
- Polian can pronounce Peria Jerry's name, points out Oehser.
- Oehser selects the best pick at each first-round spot for the Colts in their history.
- The moment of truth has arrived for Gene Smith, writes Vito Stellino.
- Peter King says the Jaguars turned down No. 23 and No. 47 from New England for No. 8.
- Michael C. Wright is sticking with B.J. Raji for the Jaguars in his final mock draft.
- A judge has been asked to revoke Jimmy Smith's bail, reports Jim Schoettler.
- Gene Frenette says Smith has slowed down the timetable to become part of the Pride of the Jaguars that honors their all-time greats.
- A look at the guy on the other end of the phone in New York, from Ryan Robinson of Jaguars.com.
- Smith won't be unprepared, says Vic Ketchman of Jaguars.com.
- Cole Pepper says it'll be Michael Crabtree at No. 8, and Malcolm Jenkins if the Jaguars trade back.
- The last four first-rounders were immediate contributors. Jim Wyatt asks whether the Titans continue the trend.
- The guys at the Tennessean make their picks and sample the national choices.
- Chuck Cecil isn't worried about the Titans replacing Albert Haynesworth, writes Jonathan Hutton.
- Joe Biddle would like to see the Titans with Anquan Boldin or Braylon Edwards.
- Wyatt runs through a mock draft done by a group of beat writers from around the country.
Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky
If the first round of the NFL draft went as Mel Kiper Jr. envisions in his final mock draft (Insider subscription required) -- and we know it doesn't ever work like that -- I think all four AFC South teams would be quite pleased.
Here's Mel's final word, with some commentary from yours truly.
We've been talking more about tackle than end as a need, but with Maybin as a pass-rusher opposite Mario Williams on passing downs, free-agent addition Antonio Smith would kick inside and help cure the deficiencies there.
The second-best defensive tackle in the draft would bring the sort of size the Colts have lacked inside, and his presence could have a trickle down impact on every other player on the defense.
I don't know how the Titans feel specifically about Butler, but my sense is they'd prefer Alphonso Smith to him in this scenario. They talked Thursday about Malcolm Jenkins, Vontae Davis and Smith forming the first tier of corners.
- Michael Oher's story is an improbable one, writes John McClain.
- Lance Zierlein ranks the top 10 prospects by position on offense.
- What's become of Darius Walker, asks Alan Burge.
- Peria Jerry and Evander Hood are possibilities for the Colts in the first round, writes Mike Chappell.
- No. 6 on John Oehser's list of the top 25 picks of the Bill Polian era.
- Bringing back Matt Giordano was a good move for the Colts, writes Oehser.
- A look at defensive end in the draft, from Oehser.
- Polian says he is rarely surprised by what unfolds in the first round, says Colts.com.
- The Jaguars got a No. 1 receiver in Torry Holt, writes Michael C. Wright.
- A breakdown of receivers in the draft, from Wright.
- Vic Ketchman's mailbag from Jaguars.com.
- Five players the Jaguars could consider at No. 8, according to Cole Pepper.
Jason from Parts unknownwrites: The Colts cut a player named Ed Johnson last year. He got into legal troubles, but it appeared he was well liked by the coaches and players. My question is: Where is this guy and why isn't anyone picking him up?
Paul Kuharsky: The Colts told him one incident and he was done. And he had one incident and, to their credit, they stayed true to their word.
Why isn't anyone picking him up? Do you want your team to rely on a guy who couldn't stick to rules spelled out for him by the team that really liked him? Also, you don't see many homegrown DTs from Indy landing elsewhere and playing much because everyone else is generally looking for bigger interior linemen than the Colts use. They are unique in how they value quickness above all else.
Indianapolis suffered last year when Quinn Pitcock retired before camp and Johnson got himself cut.
Jason from Chicago writes: Paul you are known to hate VY this should be good for you to read. I acknoledge he cant read coverages or throw intermediate but he just wins... Of course you can compare Cutler to Young, they are both quarterbacks who were taken in the first round in 2006. Both were pro-bowl quarterbacks, both started in their first year in the league. One got his coach fired the other got his coach a new contract. One is abused for quitting during a game the other is praised for refusing to talk to his coach or the owner. One dealt with his benching by going to work to get his job back. The other dealt with the attempted trade by pouting like a little girl until the owner said to hell with this, get him outta here. You want more. One we have been told got into the face of his defensive team-mate when he thought he was unnecessarily rough on a receiver in practice. The other we have been told verbally abused his receiver during a game for dropping a pass. Vince Young is a leader, Cutler isn't. That is why Cutler has never won anything since high-school and Vince has never had a losing season in his life period.Paul Kuharsky: I don't hate Vince Young. I'm allowed to judge him, however, on his body of work independent of Jay Cutler, and I have far more first-hand information on Young.
I've said that Young, Cutler and Matt Leinart have all come across as guys who seem to feel entitled rather than guys hungry to earn it. I think it's somewhat representative of their generation.
That's great that Young is a leader and I know you and a lot of his fans are super excited about it.
But his coach and his coordinator benched him, so that leadership must have been judged by two pretty good coaches to not be sufficient enough to outweigh his abilities as a quarterback. And when they did bench him, his teammates rallied to an incredible degree around his replacement and were relieved by the change in leadership. There is no such thing as an NFL QB who won with leadership even though his arm was not great, his touch was poor, he didn't read defenses well and he couldn't respond well to adversity or hardships.
Jordan from Austin, TX writes: Hey Paul, I guess I'm just thick but I just no longer see the reasoning behind people believing that the Texans are for sure drafting an OLB with their first rounder, I believe they signed Cato June(29 years old too)who to my knowledge was very good in a 4-3 cover 2 scheme and now he's signed with the Texans whom run some sort of 4-3. Seems to me like they should take Peria Jerry or maybe even Vontae Davis (eek)/Malcolm Jenkins if he falls.
Paul Kuharsky: I don't know that we could say for sure the Texans were taking a linebacker before or since the recent additions of June and Buster Davis. But those guys are hardly huge upgrades, and they can do better if they so choose. The other guys you mention are intriguing. I'd sure rather have Jerry than risk him slipping to the Colts at 27 -- I think he'll go before then -- and have to face him twice a year.
Steven Matheny writes: My name is Steven Matheny and I am the Titans Superfan for the Football Today podcast on ESPN Radio. I have heard you on the podcast and have read your blog for a long time now. I thought that I could email you on a subject that has been slightly overlooked this offseason. With the new NFLPA head what will this do the possibility of no salary cap in the NFL? As a giant Titans fan this scares me because the Titans would not spend anywhere near the amount of money as Jerry Jones or Dan Snyder. I am afraid that this league will turn into the MLB. What are your thoughts? Thanks.
Paul Kuharsky: It won't be as bad as it sounds. There are several mechanisms to offset the lack of a cap -- players need more service time (six years rather than four) to get to unrestricted free agency, teams get an additional franchise tag, the best teams are limited in what they can add in free agency.
I don't think it will turn the NFL upside down if it gets to an uncapped year. A few guys with very fortunate timing will make a load of money, but it won't be enough to alter the general parity.
Joshua Sloan in Noblesville writes: I just saw that the Colts resigned Hagler today. Do you think that will change there draft needs? You had mentioned that in your AFC South work left to do column. Seeing that there not as thin at linebacker as they were, any chance that they bring back Freddy Keiaho.
Paul Kuharsky: No idea about Keiaho at this time, sorry.
They still need to add there, but they are not as desperate as they were and I don't expect they will use one of their premium picks.
Earl from Seattle writes: First off, Paul, love the blog. It's daily reading here even if I'm not a fan of any of the teams in the division. As for your question about three first-round QBs on the roster at the same time, not sure if it was the last time, but the 1980 Raiders had three first-round QBs on their roster: Dan Pastorini (Oilers, 1971), Jim Plunkett (,1971), Marc Wilson (Raiders, 1980)
Paul Kuharsky: Thanks, Earl. He's responding to this blog entry about three first-round quarterbacks on a team simultaneously.
ESPN The Magazine senior writer Bruce Feldman has special insight into two specific prospects of interest to the AFC South.
While he researched his book, "Meat Market: Inside the Smash-Mouth World of College Football Recruiting," he became intimately familiar with the Ole Miss football program. Defensive tackle Peria Jerry and offensive tackle Michael Oher are rated as first-round picks.
Defensive tackle is a big need for Houston at No.15 and Indianapolis at No. 27, while Jacksonville, which drafts eighth but could be looking to trade back, needs a tackle.
Feldman was kind enough to share his forecast for each player as a pro.
"Peria Jerry was the best D-lineman in the SEC last year," Feldman said. "He was virtually unblockable and he also was the emotional leader of that team. He isn't huge, but he is very explosive and had played hurt for most of his career at Ole Miss till last year when his career took off. Lots of times the only way teams could contain him were with double teams or by cutting him.
"I'm more skeptical of Oher's prospects. He's had a ton of hype but he never was a dominant run blocker and has really struggled with his focus. People were talking about him saying things like he'd run in the low 4.9s and how he was some weight room warrior. That wasn't him. Prior to shedding weight before the combine, his 40 time at Ole Miss was 5.4 and he couldn't bench much more weight than their 170-pound return man Marshay Green. For most of his career whenever Ole Miss needed a few yards on third-and-short, they rarely ran to his side.
"He did improve last season, but I still don't expect him to be the player he's been touted to become."
Check out Feldman's blog here.
Eric in Denver: Hey Paul, Hope all is well. Couple of questions: 1. When teams bring veteran free agents (i.e. Holt) in for a visit, do they measure the athlete's 40 time, shuttle time, strength, etc.? Clearly, these metrics are invaluable in determining a prospects DRAFT status, but how are they used when trying to determine how much a veteran has "left in the tank?" 2. Can you comment on NFLPA union dues? I read players contribute up to 40%. Is that correct? Seems awfully high. Then again, if a player only plays a few years and expects life-long benefits, it may not be such a bad proposition. Thanks in advance for answering. Keep up the good work! Eric
Paul Kuharsky: 1) No. An established veteran isn't going to do a combine workout for a team. His resume is on film. Personnel people and coaches have to, and should be able to, evaluate off that. Now the medical people can pull and tug on a guy as much as they need and become a major factor in answering any lingering concerns about if a guy is healthy enough to do what he did on film, or recovered enough that he might match his 2007 film instead of 2008, etc.
On rare occasions, when a team has most of the leverage and a veteran player is trying to show he's recovered from an injury, there might be some sort of a predetermined workout. It still wouldn't likely include combine-type drills.
2) Player union dues are $10,000 annually.
Greg in Indianapolis writes: What do you think of the idea of the Colt's dropping the two tight end sets and getting a big, brusing fullback type player in the backfield to be primarily a lead blocker, but also get out in pass patterns? It seems to me, and maybe the new coach - Caldwell - that something like this needs to be done to make the running game more of a threat. How you heard of any thoughts about this?
Paul Kuharsky: I don't see it. It would be a change in their approach and I think they are pretty set in their approach. And they are already stocked with affordable tight ends beyond Dallas Clark with Gijon Robinson, Jacob Tamme and Tom Santi. They've run fine in the past without emphasizing a fullback -- they need the blockers to block better and the backs to run better. A true "big and bruising" fullback like you mention isn't likely to be very good at getting out into pass patterns like you would like to see.
Byron in Knoxville: Couple quick questions. The Titans have 5 preseason games this year instead of 4. Do the teams that get this extra game see it as a positive or a negative? Also, it looks as though we are going to be having either a 17 or 18 game season soon. Is there any talk about putting in another bye week in addition to more games?
Paul Kuharsky: They will spin it as a positive and the good part of it is that young guys get additional time to show what they can do. But fact is, a couple years ago it would have been good for Vince Young, now it makes things awfully long for older guys like Kerry Collins and Kevin Mawae. They won't play too much extra total -- Fisher will play hardly anyone in the finale considering it's only a week from that game to the Thursday night opener. But camp will open a week or so before the first game, which means a longer deal for everyone.
A longer season could well come with an additional bye week, yes.
Andrew from parts unknown: If a receiver like Nicks and a defensive tackle like Peria Jerry are available when the colts pick in the first round, which way do you think they will go? Will they give Manning another weapon to replace Marvin Harrison or address the team's biggest need?
Paul Kuharsky: I suspect a receiver, though I can't tell you which ones they like.
Jerry won't last that long, I suspect. I am guessing that Polian believes they can address defensive tackle sufficiently down the line.
Chase in Nashville: PK, If the Titans sign Torry Holt, that would give them a receiving corps with a combined 4 super bowl appearances and 2 rings. Holt - XXXIV (W), XXXVI (L) Washington - XLII (W) Gage - XLI (L) - On the roster, not sure how much PT he actually got. Anyways, this would be pretty impressive right? Are there that many teams in the league that could say this about their receiving corps?
Paul Kuharsky: It would be a nice aside -- I promise I'd do a big entry on it. But it wouldn't speak much to the Titans' passing game or how much it could improve with that cast.
Ready to go four rounds deep? Here's what Mel Kiper is saying in a new four-round mock draft posted Thursday.
I think a Texans' fan would have to be very happy if the first two picks went like this.
No. 15: Linebacker Brian Cushing, USC
No. 46: Defensive tackle Evander Hood, Missouri
No. 77: Cornerback Keenan Lewis, Oregon State
No. 112: Defensive end David Veikune, Hawaii
No. 122: Receiver Mike Thomas, Arizona
No. 27: Defensive tackle Peria Jerry, Mississippi
No. 61: Receiver Derrick Williams, Penn State
No. 92: Linebacker Jason Phillips, TCU
No. 127: Running back Javon Ringer, Michigan State
No. 136: Linebacker Jonathan Casillas, Wisconsin
No. 30: Receiver Percy Harvin, Florida
No. 62: Cornerback D.J. Moore, Vanderbilt
No. 94: Linebacker Marcus Freeman, Ohio State
No. 130: Guard Louis Vasquez, Texas Tech
No. 135: Defensive tackle Terrance Taylor, Michigan
- The Texans signed linebacker Cato June and he'll compete for the weakside job with Xavier Adibi, says John McClain.
- Alan Burge likes the addition of June.
- John Oehser's list of Peyton Manning's most underrated moments: No. 5 and No. 4.
- Oehser's look back at the Colts in the first round: 2001.
- Oehser's top 25 picks of the Polian era: No 23 and No. 22.
- A look at Peria Jerry, courtesy of Oehser.
- Gene Frenette is anxious to see how Gene Smith and the Jaguars do on draft weekend.
- Vito Stellino looks at the improbable story of Michael Oher.
- When the Jaguars head into the weight room for the start of the offseason program Monday, they'll see a completely revamped area, writes Vic Ketchman of Jaguars.com.
- Chris Johnson is trying to scale back on fast food, says Jim Wyatt.
- David Climer ponders Chris Johnson and asks, why not live where you work?
- I know these two aren't Titans related, but a lot of Titans fans are interested in Vanderbilt and Jay Cutler:
Cutler can look to history and find a Vanderbilt quarterback who led the Bears to a title: Bill Wade. Wyatt takes a look.
Bears receiver Earl Bennett was actually in a Vanderbilt classroom when he learned about the Cutler trade.
Todd McShay has reevaluated the draft. Here's what he's forecasting for the AFC South:
8. Jacksonville Jaguars: Michael Crabtree, wide receiver, Texas Tech
15. Houston Texans: Malcolm Jenkins, cornerback, Ohio State
27. Indianapolis Colts: Peria Jerry, defensive tackle, Mississippi
30. Tennessee Titans: Hakeem Nicks, wide receiver, North Carolina
Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky
Team needs: Defensive tackle, outside linebacker, safety, running back.
|Chris Morrison/US PRESSWIRE|
|USC linebacker Clay Matthews could fill a void for the Texans.|
Dream scenario: All indications are that the Texans are expecting to address linebacker with the 15th pick in the draft. Ideally, they'd have their choice of the two USC guys projected to be selected around the middle of the first round -- Brian Cushing and Clay Matthews Jr. Matthews may be viewed as having a bit more upside as he has not reached his peak. And the Texans have inside information on him, as his uncle, Bruce Mathews, is now a part of Gary Kubiak's staff. At 6-foot-3, 240 pounds, Matthews would give the Texans the sort of size -- and hopefully the sort of durability -- they covet.
Plan B: Boston College's B.J. Raji will be out of range, but the Texans will have to consider a defensive tackle who can get some interior push, take some attention away from Mario Williams and help Amobi Okoye get back on track. Candidates at No. 15 might be Peria Jerry of Mississippi or Evander Hood of Missouri. A team in need of a lot of help on defense probably cannot afford to go offense, but Ohio State's Chris "Beanie" Wells would have to be tempting to a team in need of a big back to pair with Steve Slaton.
Scouts Inc. take: "Houston is in a very good position for draft day. It will be tempting to add a first-round running back like Beanie Wells, but offensive line coach Alex Gibbs certainly has never needed running backs with strong pedigrees in order for his ground game to be successful. The obvious answer for Houston is to go with defense -- and I certainly would not object. Even a situational pass rusher like Aaron Maybin could yield immediate dividends, as Antonio Smith could move inside on passing downs and Maybin would line up opposite Mario Williams. Clay Mathews Jr. also makes a lot of sense. I can live with the Texans' defense at each level, especially with their ability to put points on the board on offense, but another playmaker at any level would surely be a welcome addition. One wild card to consider: Percy Harvin -- just a hunch, but wow, he could do great things with this group. If Matt Schaub can finally stay healthy, the Texans are not all that far away from becoming a contender. This draft could put them over the top." -- Matt Williamson, Scouts Inc.
Who has final say: General manager Rick Smith and coach Gary Kubiak work to find a consensus, but the Texans won't wind up with players Kubiak doesn't endorse.
Now On the Clock: New Orleans Saints, April 2.
Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky
|Dale Zanine/US Presswire|
|North Carolina's Hakeem Nicks could step in as the No. 2 receiver for the Colts.|
Team needs: Defensive tackle, receiver, outside linebacker, running back
Dream scenario: The Colts have major holes to patch on defense, and they will spend a lot of picks on those spots. But team president Bill Polian is obligated to surround Peyton Manning with the best weapons possible as the quarterback comes off his third MVP season. So it would help the Colts play to their strength if a quality wide receiver is available at No. 27.
Maryland's Darrius Heyward-Bey will probably be gone, and while he needs polish, he would be a vertical threat who could pull attention away from Wayne or make defenses pay. At least a couple scouts think Rutgers' Kenny Britt and North Carolina's Hakeem Nicks are capable of very quickly stepping in as the second receiver, behind Reggie Wayne but ahead of slot-specialist Anthony Gonzalez. At 6-foot-3, 218, Britt would bring the sort of size Manning hasn't thrown to. Nicks has potential to be Marvin Harrison-like, although he won't be as exciting after the catch.
Plan B: Polian has said the best defensive tackles usually disappear in the first 15 picks, then don't re-emerge as a value until the latter rounds of the draft. But the guys rated as the second- and third-best defensive tackles in this draft could be around in the late 20s -- Mississippi's Peria Jerry and Missouri's Evander Hood. They both can help settle the Colts down against the run up the middle and help collapse the pocket and get to the passer.
Scouts Inc. take: "If history has taught us anything about the Colts' organization it is that Bill Polian and Co. will use first-round picks to surround Peyton Manning with plenty of skill-position talent. It is a long, illustrious list of first-rounders and that trend could continue once again this year. With Wayne, Gonzalez and Dallas Clark -- all former first-rounders -- in the fold right now, another wideout might not appear to be as high of a draft priority as defensive tackle, which is a position made up of adequate-at-best starters. But the Colts' decision-makers understand what has made them so successful throughout the Manning era and probably will continue with that strategy. While defensive tackles like Peria Jerry, Ziggy Hood and Ron Brace will be attractive to Indianapolis, do not be surprised when Britt or Brian Robiskie's name is taken to the podium for the Colts in Round 1." -- Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc.
Who has final say: Polian equals personnel in Indianapolis. His scouts know what works in the Colts' schemes and the coaches he'll get input from include new head coach Jim Caldwell and new defensive coordinator Larry Coyer. But one of the league's best drafters has the final word.
Now on the clock: Baltimore Ravens, March 20.
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.
Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky
A brief break from free agency for a scan of the selections:
Jacksonville Jaguars, No. 8
Houston Texans, No. 15
Indianapolis Colts, No. 27
Tennessee Titans, No. 30
Plenty of mock drafters are still sifting through what they learned and heard at the scouting combine. But I found four updated mocks on Wednesday that are sure to stir some conversations, so I'll dive right in.
Jacksonville Jaguars, No. 8
Charles Davis, NFL.com: Running back Chris "Beanie" Wells, Ohio State
Pat Kirwan, NFL.com: Quarterback Matthew Stafford, Georgia
Chad Reuter, NFLDraftScout.com: Offensive tackle Michael Oher, Mississippi
Don Banks, SI.com: Quarterback Mark Sanchez, USC
My thoughts: Only Reuter has a chance at a bull's-eye here. If the Jaguars stay at eight, I find it hard to believe they would go for a quarterback or running back. They are not unsatisfied with David Garrard, they think he needs better protection and more threatening weapons. And they are ready to hand more work to Maurice Jones-Drew with help from Greg Jones -- guys who also need better offensive line play. But maybe I am too focused on need.
Houston Texans, No. 15
Davis: Quarterback Mark Sanchez, USC
Kirwan: Defensive end Tyson Jackson, LSU
Reuter: Outside linebacker Brian Cushing, USC
My thoughts: Jackson is a case of matching need with availability. Seems possible, though I didn't sense any buzz about him in Indianapolis. Cushing would be tempting depending on who's available. Sanchez? Maybe he'd be judged a value here, but replacing Sage Rosenfels is hardly one of the team's priorities considering their issues on defense, particularly on the line and in the backfield.
Indianapolis Colts, No. 27
My thoughts: I've written about why Harvin doesn't look like a match -- they need a guy who can run precise routes and that's not what he was asked to do at Florida. Laurinaitis or Matthews could arrive in a best-player available scenario. Jerry fits, but watch him rise in the coming weeks. I think he will be gone well before this pick.
Tennessee Titans, No. 30
Davis: Wide receiver Kenny Britt, Rutgers
Kirwan: Defensive end Robert Ayers, Tennessee
Reuter: Cornerback Alphonso Smith, Wake Forest
My thoughts: I think it's a mistake to automatically funnel defensive linemen to the Titans. Even if Albert Haynesworth is gone, the team drafted tackle Jason Jones and end William Hayes last season. If the Titans break with tradition and take a wideout in the first, Britt could be the guy. Smith is intriguing too -- they are likely a year away from needing a replacement for Nick Harper and are hardly shy about drafting corners.