A team-by-team look at the players I expect to be the most dominant in the AFC South from 2014-2016
All four teams in the AFC South hope to be built on cornerstones, keystones and touchstones acquired in the draft. If we look four, five and six years out, what players will be filling those kinds of roles for the Texans, Colts, Jaguars and Texans?
Some of them aren’t even on the roster yet and some of them might be on another team by then. But here’s our stab at guy per team whom we believe will be a star in that time period.
Brooks Reed (42) has the tools to be a playmaker in the pros.
Brooks Reed, Texans linebacker: Houston’s second-round pick from April is super fast in his first 10 yards, which will allow him to be exceptionally rangy as a pro. In 2014, entering his fourth year, he should be approaching his peak and making plays against both the run and pass as an outside linebacker. His motor makes it difficult for offenses to consistently block him, and pulls a lot of his teammates along.
Austin Collie, Colts receiver: In his first two seasons, Collie’s shown a great feel for the game. He has a knack for space and timing. He’s quickly grown into a reliable target for Peyton Manning and the Colts. Whether Manning is entering twilight years or his heir is taking snaps, so long as Collie avoids the sort of concussions that were an issue last season, he’ll be a dangerous weapon who frustrates defenses.
Terrance Knighton, Jaguars defensive tackle: If Knighton controls his weight, he could be at the top of his game during our window, regularly collapsing the pocket as he combines brute strength with the feet of a much smaller man. If he occupies multiple blockers he will influence where a running back can go and what a quarterback can do, having a positive bearing on the other 10 defenders on the field for the Jaguars.
Derrick Morgan, Titans defensive end: A freak torn ACL from his rookie year will be long forgotten, as the strong, rugged Morgan works as a centerpiece for the Titans as their top pass-rusher. His work ethic and leadership combined with his sack production and ability to stop the run combine to make him one of the division’s most-respected, and most-feared, defenders.