AFC South Draft Grades

By Mike Fink
Apr. 30, 2020

It should be noted that I gave five teams in the NFL an A, 11 a B, 12 a C and 8 a D. The first round selection does carry a lot weight in the team's grade but winners and losers are determined through the following rounds. The AFC South is one of the more intriguing divisions. Unlike most divisions that have experts predicting the same teams constantly, the opinion on who will win this division varies from person to person. The Draft would have more impact on the AFC South for this reason.

Houston Texans: D

Bill O'Brien doesn't know what he's doing. This should be obvious from his coaching and even more self evident from his work as a general manager. I'm not going to talk about the players he traded away or the picks he surrendered for players. We should only focus on the draft, this one specifically.

Without a first round pick, the Texans needed to kick off day two running. They spent their first two picks on defensive lineman, both valuable picks but ignoring the bigger needs that the team has of defensive back and offensive line. The Texans then selected those needs in round four by taking John Reid and Charlie Heck. The Texans used their final selection on wide receiver Isaiah Coulter, a pick that one could say is an attempt to find depth at receiver after trading De'andre Hopkins but the Texans traded draft picks for Brandin Cooks and signed Randall Cobb this off-season.

The Texans only had five draft picks. By default, they weren't going to bring in a strong haul in this draft. This draft ultimately receives a poor grade since they needed to address the needs of corner and offensive line as a top priority and they drafted consecutive defensive lineman which doesn't appear to be a weakness (JJ Watt is still on that D-Line)

Tennessee Titans: D

The Titans raised a lot of eyebrows with their first selection. With the 29th pick, the Titans took tackle Isaiah Wilson from Georgia. The Titans are trying to replace Jack Conklin by taking a former five-star recruit in Wilson but Wilson hasn't had the successful career that many thought he would have at Georgia. Many saw Wilson as a third or even fourth round pick and the Titans took him in the first round. If the Titans wanted to take Wilson as their guy, they could have traded out of the first round or even drafted him later. This is the worst case scenario and if Wilson is a bust, the Titans will have to think about this decision for years to follow.

The Titans did redeem themselves with their second round choice, grabbing cornerback Kristian Fulton from LSU. The Titans entered the draft needing to add a corner and Fulton is a first round talent. The Titans then drafted running back Darrynton Evans probably to back up the current rushing champion Derrick Henry. With Dion Lewis being released, it make sense for the Titans to want to add depth to the position but the Titans needed to add depth to the tight end unit and the defensive line with a greater need and failed to do so. The Titans had a fifth round pick which they did use on a defensive tackle and then with two seventh round picks they took a safety and a quarterback but at this point in the draft, it was a bit late to fill the glaring needs that the Titans had.

The Titans already had to overcome a tough free agency where they lost stars like Jack Conklin and Jurrell Casey. Now the Titans have to hope that this draft class can keep them in contention for another AFC championship appearance. Taking Isaiah Wilson in the first round was an immediate red flag and not adding depth to other key positions while feeling the need to bring in a backup for Derrick Henry only made this draft look worse for the Titans.

Indianapolis Colts: C

You can argue that the Colts number one pick was Deforest Buckner since the Colts sacrificed their first round pick to obtain the pro-bowl defensive lineman. Despite acquiring Buckner, the Colts would still need to have a good draft with the division up for grabs.

The Colts started their draft on day two and immediately went to the skill positions drafting running back Jonathan Taylor and wide receiver Michael Pittman. I understand why the Colts would want to take Taylor since he is a first round talent and can be one of the best running backs in the NFL for the next five years but with Marlon Mack proving that he can be the starting back and Nykeim Hines and Jordan Wilkins proving to be serviceable backups, it seems like this pick is forcing the Colts into a difficult release or trade with the excess number of backs. Pittman provides depth to a receiving unit that needed it, the Colts could have gone with a corner or helped the defense but I can understand this pick. The Colts then drafted safety Julian Blackmon who will probably play alongside Malik Hooker and should help the secondary that also added Xavier Rhodes, Blackmon can be a perfect fit as the Colts need to rebuild the secondary.

The Colts fourth round choice was the one that gave them the low grade. After signing Philip Rivers and still having Jacoby Brisett under contract, I didn't understand why the Colts drafted quarterback Jacob Eason. It wasn't a need and if Rivers and Brisett prove not to be the solution, the Colts would be in prime position to draft a first round quarterback next season. Not only did the Colts draft a someone who will likely spend his entire career as a backup, but Jacob Eason lost his starting Job at Georgia to Jake Fromm and unless something changed in the past two seasons, I don't see how Eason can become a starter.

The Colts did load up on depth at the receiver position and on defense to finish off this draft. However, this draft class for Indianapolis will be highlighted by two things 1) drafting a running back when they didn't need one 2) drafting a quarterback when they didn't need one. This hurt what could have been an exceptional draft for the Colts.

Jacsonville Jaguars: B

The Jaguars have blown up the team that brought them to the AFC championship game back in 2017. The result of all the trades, 12 draft picks this year. The Jaguars need help in almost every position and weren't going to be able to build a contender in this draft, they could only hope that this class would help in the rebuild and possibly make them capable of competing for the division.

The Jaguars filled a clear need in the secondary with the ninth pick in the draft by selecting corner CJ Henderson. After trading away all-pro Jalen Ramsey in the middle of the season, the Jaguars needed to find a replacement (now only if all-pro corners were so common). The Jaguars then drafted edge rusher K'Lavon Chaisson with the 20th pick in the draft, after blowing up the defense the Jaguars need the help wherever they can find it and Chaisson should be fit in well with last years first round pick Josh Allen and recently franchise tagged (yet surprisingly not traded) Yannick Ngakoue. Laviska Shenault and Collin Johnson add depth to the receiving unit that still lacks a number one wideout. The Jaguars had 3 fourth round picks and used two of them on defense including adding another corner in Josiah Scott who some thought would go in the third or even second round.

The Jaguars didn't do anything spectacular in this draft. They had 12 picks and they added depth to most of the positions in need (which is practically all of them). Don't expect the Jaguars to go from worst to first with this draft class. Expect this draft to at least put the pieces down for a bright future and possibly take them out of last place.