AFC South: Impact Rookies

Andrew LuckThe AFC South had a surprising season last year. Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts continued to prove they were one of the league’s best teams. The Tennessee Titans showed flashes of being able to compete with good teams. The Jacksonville Jaguars….were the Jaguars and the Houston Texans dropped from the elite to the bottom of the NFL’s barrel. The NFL draft was a way for these teams to upgrade their rosters and try to find that elite talent.

Here’s the rookies I feel will have the biggest impact on their respective teams this season.


After owning the league’s worst record, the Texans had the opportunity of picking first in the draft. Their decision was down to picking a QB or Jadeveon Clowney with the 1st overall pick. They chose Clowney and expect to pair him with one of the league’s most dominant defenders, J.J. Watt. Clowney should have an immediate impact on the team and help the Texans defense to once again rise to the top of the ranks.  

Clowney should be able to get to the QB almost at will next to Watt, because so much attention has to be placed on stopping him. I expect to see double-digit sacks, tackles in the backfield, QB hurries and forced fumbles from Clowney this season.  

My choice for the Jaguars is much tougher. They went heavy on offense in the draft and made a surprising choice with their first pick when they selected Blake Bortles. Yet, he isn’t my player. Marqise Lee has the honor of replacing the troubled Justin Blackmon on the field. Lee should start from day 1 and be one of the top targets for either Bortles or Chad Henne. With Lee opposite Cecil Shorts, the Jaguars should have a formidable duo.

With the departure of Chris Johnson in Tennessee, the Titans had to upgrade the position. They did when my #1 RB in the draft, Bishop Sankey, was drafted.  He’s not as fast as Johnson, but he has some speed. He is a small workhorse type of back. Just give him the ball and watch him go. With their retooled offensive line, Sankey has the chance to rush for well over 1,000 yards in his rookie season.

The Colts traded away their first round draft choice to the Cleveland Browns in exchange for Trent Richardson. He doesn’t count towards this list, but he definitely will affect it. Without that first round pick, the Colts draft was pretty dry. They picked up solid depth guys, that could develop into something in the future. The future may not have anything to do with this season. Andrew Jackson should have the biggest impact this year, but on special teams.

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