- Paul Kuharsky, ESPN Staff Writer
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Rivers McCown of Football Outsiders covers the AFC South in today’s installment of remaining needs around the league.
Here are snippets with my thoughts.
Houston Texans: Right tackle
“[Rashad] Butler, who was actually [Eric] Winston's replacement at tackle at the University of Miami as well, does have a decent pedigree as a former third-round pick with the Carolina Panthers, but he doesn't have much in the way of NFL experience. He saw some snaps in 6-OL sets in 2010 and got four starts on the left side when Duane Brown was suspended for using performance-enhancing drugs. While he wasn't a disaster replacing Brown, and may even offer a slight upgrade on Winston in pass protection, it would be a surprise if he brought quite as much to the table in the running game. The only other in-house options are 2011 seventh-rounder Derek Newton and 2012 sixth-round pick Nick Mondek, both of whom are considered projects. Since Houston is also handing over right guard to Antoine Caldwell, a new right side could lead to some awkwardness as the offensive line learns to work together in game conditions.”
My thoughts: This is the biggest question on the roster in my eyes. Butler played four games at left tackle when Brown was suspended in 2010 and was only OK. Supporters say he’s more suited to playing on the right.
Indianapolis Colts: Cornerback
“Indianapolis left the draft with no new cornerbacks and now has a logjam of unproven mediocrity at the position. Last season, Indianapolis finished 26th in DVOA against No. 1 wide receivers, 27th against No. 2 wide receivers and 31st against other wide receivers. And the only change in personnel from then to now was the exile of Jacob Lacey, who played poorly enough last year to lose his starting job to the guys who are still in town. Jerraud Powers has always done well by our metrics and will be back on the field after being bothered by a hamstring injury and shutting it down following a dislocated elbow in Week 13... As the NFL continues to shift into a passing league, really good defenses are finding that having three credible cornerbacks is a necessity. The Colts are still stuck on one at this point.”
My thoughts: Something had to suffer based on the depth of needs, and the secondary certainly was not covered the way it needed to be. We're going to see a patchwork group and the Colts could be ready to pounce if and when quality options get cut at the end of camp.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Offensive line
“A strong run-blocking unit … did Blaine Gabbert no favors over the course of his nightmare rookie season. Guy Whimper was one of the worst offensive tackles in the league last season -- FO's J.J. Cooper had a scathing column on his play last year -- and the only obstacle to keep him from starting at tackle again is Eben Britton, whom the Jaguars wanted to turn into a guard last season. Will Rackley, a third-round pick in 2011, won the starting nod at left guard. He showed some flash in the running game, but also allowed 6.5 sacks and looked every bit as lost as Gabbert did in a few games. Eugene Monroe is solid at left tackle but lacks the edge speed to match the best rushers in the NFL. Brad Meester is 35, and not the type of 35 that gets you "wily old vet" mentions like Matt Birk or Jeff Saturday. This is a unit that could have used some more solidification rather than the blind hope that Britton's return from a back injury will heal all.”
My thoughts: A great place to find a guy who could be in the mix in a situation like this is the third round. But the Jaguars preferred a punter. (It’s still funny. I’m sure it’ll wear off eventually. Right?)
Tennessee Titans: Defensive end
“[Kamerion] Wimbley isn't a bad player at all -- in fact, he's picked up 42.5 sacks in six years, which is pretty impressive. However, he's never played exclusively as a 4-3 defensive end, and as our own esteemed Tom Gower noted on his Total Titans blog, four of his seven sacks in 2011 came against woefully overmatched Chargers backup tackle Brandyn Dombrowski. Wimbley was a smart signing in light of the other options, but he's not exactly a sure thing. If the Titans can get some production from either Wimbley or third-year end Derrick Morgan, that would go a long way toward shoring up their 31st-place ranking in Adjusted Sack Rate from 2011.”
My thoughts: It’s possible Wimbley and Morgan with veteran Dave Ball and rookie Scott Solomon could be a good enough four pack. But I don’t like the odds for them all staying healthy and I don’t think it’s good enough.