Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Draft Watch: AFC South
By Paul Kuharsky
Each Wednesday leading up to the NFL draft (April 22-24), the ESPN.com blog network will take a division-by-division look at key aspects of the draft. Today’s topic: biggest team needs.
A potent offense might be one player away from diversifying in a huge way. The Texans need a bigger running back who has third-down/short-yardage/goal-line vision and skill. By pairing that player with Steve Slaton, the Texans could build a run game that sufficiently supplements the pass attack.
Interior offensive line depth is an issue too, but the other big issues are on defense. Free safety and defensive tackle have been issues for too long and corner depth is a concern that turns into an outright need if Dunta Robinson isn’t retained.
The Colts need options on the offensive line, where they are loaded with smart guys but need to have more of a physical presence to ensure they can move people in the run game for a crucial third-and-short. With Howard Mudd retiring as position coach and Pete Metzelaars expected to take over, the Colts will do well to increase the quality options.
It runs counter to how they’ve operated, but because they should be deep at receiver and corner if they are healthy, a return specialist could provide a great boost. Depth at defensive end also rates worth a mention.
The Jaguars could add people anywhere but offensive tackle, and that’s only because they addressed that position with their top two picks last year in GM Gene Smith’s first draft. Pass-rushers are a giant priority -- if they can hurry the quarterback more often, the backers and secondary will improve.
Interior offensive line and safety are issues too, but everything is trumped by quarterback. The Jaguars have acknowledged that David Garrard's not elite, and you’ll find an elite quarterback or a young guy with a chance to be one on every team from the 2009 playoffs.
Because the Titans have more free agents than anyone else in the division, their needs could change based on who they retain. But no matter who they might re-sign, they’ve got to get younger on defense and need help at cornerback, defensive end and linebacker.
The return games are major concerns, and they’d be well served to spend a value pick to address it rather than presuming someone will emerge from a field of midrange picks. (How did that work out last season?) They’ll also probably need an interior offensive lineman and could look to add a quarterback to develop.