NFL: AFC South Team Needs

The draft is right around the corner, and the AFC South is trying to stake a claim as one of the league’s toughest divisions. All four of the teams have made the playoffs in the last two seasons. Yet each has some major needs they need to address to remain in touch with the top teams in the league. Here’s what their needs are.

Houston Texans

While the Texans seem to have found their franchise Quarterback in DeShaun Watson, they desperately need to do a better job of protecting him. A major priority for the Texans in the draft should be upgrading the Offensive Line. Both Guard positions should be explored, as well as a Tackle, and it’s likely they do this with at least two of their three picks on the second day of the draft.

To further help Watson, Houston should also be exploring additional weapons. While they might feel as though their current Running Backs are more than capable, adding someone to play the role of a receiving back could happen late in the draft. However, they’re much more likely to target a Wide Receiver to play opposite DeAndre Hopkins and a Tight End, potentially in the first round. Expect both of these positions to be addressed at some point in the draft.

Defensively, they have many nice pieces in place already, but need to solidify the interior of the Defensive Line. The Linebackers are in a strong state and unlikely to be addressed in a weak year at the position. Instead, the Texans are more likely to draft a Strong Safety to pair with last year’s third round Free Safety pick Justin Reid. Cornerback could be another position the Texans explore, despite adding Bradley Roby in Free Agency.

Indianapolis Colts

With the return of QB Andrew Luck in 2018, the Colts’ fortunes were much improved. They have rebuilt the OL over the past few years, and they have few needs on Offense. With nine picks in the draft, the Colts will spend a majority on the Defense, as that is where most of their needs are.

All levels of the Defense will be addressed by the Colts in the draft, particularly the LBs and Secondary. A minimum of one CB and a SS will be drafted, but don’t be surprised to see a third or fourth pick spent on the Defensive Backs. Adding a LB that can defend the pass too should be a further consideration of the Colts.

Up front, Indy should also be looking at bolstering the pass rush and solidifying the interior of the DL. Although they were the 8th-best team at defending the rush in 2018, getting more pressure up the middle would take them from a mediocre team at defending the pass to a much more competitive one. Defensive Tackle and an edge rusher could be addressed at any point in the draft, but the Colts won’t be leaving without at least one of the latter.

Any remaining picks the Colts have are likely to be spent on adding a WR, RB, and depth on the interior of the OL. Despite drafting two RBs last year, neither emerged as a dominant player at the position, and continuing to take pressure off Luck is a high probability. Adding a WR to complement TY Hilton and FA addition Devin Funchess would complete the Offense.

Jacksonville Jaguars

After moving on from QB Blake Bortles, the Jaguars are looking to capitalise on their strong roster that made the AFC Championship Game two seasons ago. However, new QB Nick Foles needs more targets to throw to, and a few holes on Defense need plugging. There’s also the question of whether the Jaguars will explore a QB to perhaps compete with Foles, although it is unlikely this happens this year.

Some of the skill positions players on Offense have flashed in the last few years, but haven’t shown the consistency the Jaguars would like. Both RB and WR could be added in the draft, but neither are an urgent need. Instead, the Jaguars are a strong possibility to draft a TE with the seventh overall pick – Iowa’s TJ Hockenson or Noah Fant are strong candidates. Solidifying the OT could also happen towards the back half of the draft.

Adding players to the rotation and depth at both DE and DT are likely to happen in the earlier rounds of the draft. Safeties are the other big need on Defense for the Jaguars, and depth at CB could happen but is likely to be a luxury pick only. A versatile OLB that can rush the passer, as well as defend the run and pass, would be the final piece of the puzzle for Jacksonville. If they opt to not go TE in the first round, either LB or DL is a strong likelihood instead.

Tennessee Titans

The Titans are at a crossroads this year. If they decide QB Marcus Mariota isn’t the future of the franchise, they will move on from him. It’s unlikely they look for a replacement for him this year, especially after adding Ryan Tannehill as a FA. But with most positions on the roster in good shape, this draft is likely to be geared towards a Super Bowl run, and failure will leave many questions needing answers in 2020.

The biggest need for the Titans on Offense is at Center, but won’t be addressed until the third round at the earliest in all likelihood. They’ve solidified WR in the offseason by bringing in Adam Humphries, but could still explore the position further late in the draft. TE is also questionable for the Titans but isn’t a pressing need.

On Defense, however, the DL and Safeties are the key areas of the team needing work. Both DE and Nose Tackle should be early priorities for the Titans to strengthen themselves against the run. Getting a tone-setter on Defense will happen in the first few rounds, but could be either the DL or DB. While the Titans are strong at OLB, the middle of the Defense needs further work. If Devin White or Devin Bush fall to the nineteenth pick, it would be surprising to see the Titans not take them. However, if such an opportunity doesn’t present itself, the Titans are unlikely to address the position before day three of the draft.

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