Draft Needs: AFC South
At PFF we’re not big on telling you things we don’t know about first hand, so saying who a team should draft is not something you’ll see here. However, giving you our view on areas of need, is another matter. With free agency essentially in the books, we thought this might be a good opportunity to give you a pre-draft look at the areas they should look to address either via the draft or otherwise .
You know how much we like colour-coding everything and this set of articles (one for each division) is no exception. Before you dig in we’d highly recommend you check out the legend – these are not player grades as in our projected line-ups series, we are grading need. Obviously, to some degree, they are related but not always. Let’s be clear, the fact that in the AFC East Review we have the Patriots QB situation as a slightly higher need than that of the Jets does not mean we are saying Geno Smith is a better QB than Tom Brady; just that Smith has shown enough to say he deserves a decent shot and with Michael Vick backing him up there is no immediate need to draft another QB while in New England it may be time for them to consider a successor to the great man particularly given Ryan Mallett is a free agent next year and shown very little in recent preseasons.
In some of the grades we are also considering the depth behind the player listed so, for example, with Buffalo’s slot corner position the fact they have Nickell Robey as well as Corey Graham ensures this is a straight dark green. However, where this is the case, I’ll mention it in the text below relating to each team.
How fast can a roster deteriorate? Well, after the 2011 season the Texans looked well stocked but a number of wrong turns in who to keep (Wade Smith, for example) and who to replace (Eric Winston, for one) plus some poor drafting saw that group evaporate to current mix of top-end talent and crushing mediocrity. Nowhere is this more evident than in the defensive front seven featuring the NFL’s best player, an injured warrior and… well, yes that’s about it. Every single position outside J.J. Watt either must or should be looked at and we haven’t even got to an offense that has no viable QB. It’s a miracle the GM still has a job while the coach doesn’t.
We’ve been critical of a number of the moves Ryan Grigson has made during his tenure, but the way things are currently looking I suspect he may end up having the last laugh. I’m not saying that now Eric Walden is a smart find, they didn’t over-pay for Vontae Davis or getting Trent Richardson was good business. Just that despite these decisions the Colts positive transactions have outweighed them and they are rounding into a fine team. If they can find some help at corner (Greg Toler is a decent player when he’s actually on the field but that’s too infrequent) and safety (LaRon Landry’s form fell away badly after coming back from injury and he can’t be expected, at his age, to regain it) they may well be able to mount a big challenge.
In last year’s draft and during free agency the Jaguars addressed a few issues on both sides of the ball. One was the offensive line but the jury is still out on how successful those moves will be given Luke Joeckel was injured in the game he moved to his rightful position of left tackle and, while an upgrade for sure, we don’t think Zane Beadles was a good choice. The work in the secondary was more substantive and while hardly a group of All-Pro’s it’s now at least serviceable as a unit. The real question now is can they give their one huge success story of last year (Gus Bradley) enough tools to compete. It still may be too early for anything other than a red-shirt QB so some edge rushers and further work on the offensive line may be the order of the day.
I saw something somewhere the other day (apologies I can’t remember where) saying this is the worst roster in the NFL. That’s simply wrong; it’s not great but I could easily see two fine coaches like Ken Whisenhunt and Ray Horton moulding this into a surprising team because they do have some talent. It was therefore a difficult call on needs (beyond the quarterback, obviously, with them sending a clear message by not picking up Jake Locker’s fifth-year option). Although they need a halfback badly, surely they won’t go early so perhaps corner makes sense. Of all the teams, I found this a difficult one to call.
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