The AFC South was the division that I considered to have the biggest overall improvement of all the divisions in football this offseason. The Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Tennessee Titans all signed and drafted a lot of players that should significantly help all four of their teams. With signings of players like Julius Thomas, Andre Johnson, Frank Gore, Brian Orakpo, Vince and Wilfolk, the AFC South transformed themselves into a tougher and more respectable division. They will definitely not be the easy win that they looked like last year. So with that being said, let’s get right into the Remaining AFC South Team Needs:
Houston Texans – The Texans were a good QB away from being a serious contender last year. They go into this year with the same issue, but it looks like they will decide between the young talented Ryan Mallett and the veteran Brian Hoyer, who they signed from the Cleveland Browns. I wasn’t as high on the Texans draft as most people were, but they definitely filled a much needed hole at WR by stealing Jaelen Strong in the 3rd round. They didn’t, however, fill the following holes:
Quarterback – As mentioned before, looks like they are going to go with Mallett/Hoyer. I actually like Mallett and liked him coming out of college, but he has yet to show in the pros what I liked in college.
Center – With Chris Myers gone, the Texans failed to replace their longtime center. Ben Jones is currently slated to start at C. He was a 4th round pick for Houston in 2012.
Defensive End – Jared Crick can stay there for now, but I think they need an upgrade. He was looked at very highly a couple of seasons ago, but has yet to fulfill his potential.
Indianapolis Colts – I didn’t really like the Colts draft at all. For a team that is already an offensive firehouse led by QB Andrew Luck, they went WR in the 1st round with Phillip Dorsett. I like Dorsett, a slot WR from Miami, but they already have TY Hilton, Andre Johnson, Donte Moncrief, and Duron Carter, the son of Hall of Famer Cris Carter. They needed to get some more players in the front seven, which they ignored till round three. Because of that, they still are yet to fill these needs:
Inside Linebacker – They ended up taking one in the 6th round, but they need to invest in one early to replace D’Qwell Jackson. I don’t think Jerrell Freeman and Nate Irving is enough inside.
Outside Linebacker – Erik Walden is currently slated to start at OLB, but he only has 9 sacks over the past two years. They need another pass rusher.
Center – Right now, it’s a question as to who the Colts will start at C this year. Right now the depth chart listed Khaled Holmes as the starter, but the position is completely up for grabs.
Jacksonville Jaguars – I think the Jags had one of the best offseasons of everyone in the league. They signed Steve Wisniewski to solidify the center of their line and Jermey Parnell to hold down the RT spot. Then they went on to have two great picks in the 1st two rounds of the draft with Dante Fowler, the player I considered the best defensive player in the draft, and RB TJ Yeldon, a big back from Alabama to stabilize the offense. However, Fowler torn his ACL day one of camp and is done for the year, because of that, that spot is back to being the top need.
Defensive End – With Fowler there, I felt they filled all of their holes this offseason, but without him now, they will have trouble getting to the QB again.
Tennessee Titans – Other than the Jaguars, I think the Titans were the team in the division that obtained the most talent on their football team this offseason. By re-signing OLB Derrick Morgan to go with OLB Brian Orakpo, CB Perrish Cox, and S Da’Norris Searcy, then drafting DE Angelo Blackson and OLB Deiontrez Mount, the Titans reloaded their defense for the new head of the defense, Dick Lebeau. Add those moves to the return of ILB Zach Brown and their 2nd overall pick QB Marcus Mariota, 2nd round pick WR Dorial Green Beckham, and 3rd round pick OT Jeremiah Poutasi and the Titans will have an entirely new look in 2015. The only thing left to fill is:
Nose Tackle – It was a position I knew they would ignore from talking to people within the organization, but hopefully Dick Lebeau can teach Sammie Lee Hill to be more of a space-filler than a gap-shooter.
The AFC South was the weakest division in the NFL last year. Other than the Colts, the Texans put up a fight, but were inconsistent, the Jaguars were starting a rookie and had some injuries hurt their chance to gel, and the Titans were literally an embarrassment to their fans. This year I expect all the teams to put up a respectable season, with a shot at everyone in the division reaching .500. The development of Marcus Mariota, Blake Bortles, and Ryan Mallett will help to shape a division that needed a makeover over the last two years and definitely got it. There’s a lot to cheer for this year in the AFC South.
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