Drafts Around the AFC South


Posted May 3, 2012
Charlie Bernstein


The NFL Draft is the life-blood over every franchise and the hits and misses of each team will ultimately affect the divisional standings. Find out how the Jaguars division rivals did in last weekend’s draft.

Houston Texans



The defending AFC South champs had by most accounts, a mediocre draft in terms of filling needs with players of value at their selections. Houston started their draft off with a great value as they selected Illinois defensive end Whitney Mercilus with the 26th overall selection. Mercilus will likely play outside linebacker in Wade Phillips 3-4 defense and should make an impact in pass rush situations as he rotates with Connor Barwin and Brooks Reed.

Desperate for a complement to Andre Johnson, the Texans selected DeVier Posey in Round 3. With several higher rated receivers still on the board, the Posey selection was a surprise to many…..The Texans spent their next two picks on offensive line depth as they snatched up Miami of Ohio guard Brandon Brooks in the third round, followed by Georgia center Ben Jones in Round 4.….Houston then grabbed Michigan State wide receiver Keshawn Martin with their second of three fourth-round picks, which was curious as his college teammate B.J. Cunningham was still on the board, and judged by many to be a better player…..Houston then grabbed defensive end/tackle Jared Crick from Nebraska who should add nice depth at 3-4 end, potentially spelling Antonio Smith and J.J. Watt…..After letting kicker Neil Rackers walk in free agency, the Texans selected Texas A&M kicker Randy Bullock in Round 5.…Finally, Houston added more depth at tackle with Purdue’s Nick Mondek in the sixth round.

Overall, Houston had to find a number two wide receiver , on the offensive line as Eric Winston was released and at the linebacker position as the team lost Mario Williams in free agency and traded away DeMeco Ryans. If Whitney Mercilus fits in to their scheme the draft will likely be a success. The wide receiver selections didn’t appear to have great value but Houston’s scheme is unlike most so these players will have a better chance for success. Ben Jones and Jared Crick were productive college players who should be rotational guys early on in their careers.

Tennessee Titans



The Titans primary focus was to find another target for Jake Locker and they managed to do so with Baylor wideout Kendall Wright. Many execs believe that Wright is one of the most explosive receivers in the draft despite his unspectacular timed speed……It appears that speed was on Mike Munchak’s mind as the Titans selected North Carolina linebacker Zach Brown in Round 2. Brown is a track star playing linebacker and he should fit in and likely be an immediate starter….Tennessee got a little bigger and tougher in the middle as they selected Michigan defensive tackle Mike Martin in Round 3.….The Titans followed it up with Clemson defensive back Cody Sensabaugh who was a late riser in the draft…..Tennessee then traded up to select SMU tight end Taylor Thompson in Round 5 followed by Oklahoma State defensive back Markelle Martin in the sixth round. The Titans rounded out their draft by selecting Rice defensive end Solomon Scott with the 210th overall selection.

Tennessee needed to find more offensive playmakers and they certainly grabbed one in Kendall Wright. Zach Brown’s success will largely depend on how the Titans front four plays, as he could be a very good run around linebacker but struggles taking on blocks. The Titans needed to find a replacement for Cortland Finnegan and hope they did so with either Cody Sensabaugh or Markelle Martin. The Titans had solid value with their selections but failed to acquire depth at offensive tackle and defensive end, two positions of great need.

Indianapolis Colts



Any team that picks at the top of the draft is going to be successful and Colts general manager Ryan Grigson was certainly that. Andrew Luck is the best quarterback prospect since John Elway and he should bring that franchise back to respectability sooner rather than later…..At the top of the second round the Colts grabbed Luck’s teammate, tight end Coby Fleener who should give Luck a great sense of familiarity…..Indy doubled-up on the tight end position as they selected Clemson’s Dwayne Allen in Round 3.….The Colts then got back into the third round and selected FIU speedster T.Y. Hilton…..Indy then went with a defensive tackle from National Champion Alabama in Josh Chapman with their first of two fifth-round picks, followed by Mississippi State running back Vick Ballard….The Colts then selected Ohio wideout LaVon Brazill in Round 6, followed by Georgia guard Justin Anderson, Vanderbilt guard Tim Fugger and finally Mr. Irrelevant, Northern Illinois quarterback Chandler Harnish.

Indianapolis seemingly had great value with most all of their selections and they surrounded Andrew Luck with playmakers such as Coby Fleener, Dwayne Allen and T.Y. Hilton. Vick Ballard could be a short yardage back and Josh Chapman will have an excellent opportunity to be part of the Colts defensive line rotation right away. In summation, Indy had one of the very best drafts in the National Football League.

Charlie Bernstein is the NFL Insider for ESPNFlorida.com and ESPN 1080 and 1040 in Orlando/Tampa and Editor-in-Chief of Sports Media Interactive, covering the National Football League, NCAA, and National Basketball Association. Charlie covers the Jacksonville Jaguars for FoxSports and has been featured on the NFL Network and Sirius NFL Radio. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. You can follow Charlie on Twitter @nflcharlie


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