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Monday, March 26, 2012
Divisional draft rank post Manning, Mario

By Paul Kuharsky

With the departure of Peyton Manning and Mario Williams, the AFC South lost two overall No. 1 picks.

The loss of star power led me to wonder about what our teams have left in terms of high-ranking draft picks, and how they compare to one another and the rest of the league.

John McTigue of ESPN Stats & Information looked at the average draft slot of the top 10 highest-drafted players -- how ever deep that goes beyond the first round -- still on each team.

Obviously, where a team drafts is based on how it finishes. Certainly higher draft picks hardly guarantee successful choices. But if you’ve got higher picks, you’ve got a better chance of hitting.

As the chart at right shows, all four AFC South teams fall below the league average of 35.1: The Texans are at 35.4, the Jaguars 38.1, the Titans 39.3 and the Colts 46.8.

The Texans and Colts clearly suffer from losing Williams and Manning. The Jaguars have only four home-grown first-rounders on their team after a bunch of busts. The Titans' number inflates because Adam Jones and Vince Young didn’t stick around. The Colts have been consistently good, so they’ve consistently drafted late. Their averages are about to rise.

As the chart below shows, the top 10 highest-drafted players still in the AFC South average a draft spot of 11.1. The only division whose top 10 remaining home-grown draft picks were selected at a worse average position is the NFC East (13.9).

Keith Hawkins of ESPN Stats & Info limited his search to the average draft position of first-rounders remaining with the team that drafted them (chart at right). This seems less telling to me as you eliminate first-rounders who busted, and first-rounders who have left.

Buffalo’s the high at 7.7, the Giants are the low at 25.2.

Jacksonville comes in at 14.0, Houston at 15.0, Tennessee at 19.4 and Indianapolis at 24.2.

Here are the top draft guys in the division now, pending the Colts' pick at No. 1, and the Jaguars' pick at No. 7.