AFC South Draft Primer
Picks: 1st R-20th, 2nd R-19th, 3rd R-17th, 4th R-20th, 5th R-19th, 6th R-18th & 28th, 7th R-20th
Needs: RB, CB, DT
The Texans had high hopes for second year running back Steve Slaton going into 2009 but Slaton could not hold on to the opportunity and by the end of the year Houston was using four different running backs for the ground game. The lack of a strong rushing attack prevented the Texans once again from making a franchise first playoff appearance. Perhaps no team in the NFL was more troubled by a lack of a ground game considering Houston finished first in passing yards and 10th in scoring.
Defensively the Texans were average but secondary became a concern when Houston lost cornerback Dunta Robinson to Atlanta in free agency. Houston forced only 14 interceptions in '09 and none of their cornerbacks registered more than one pick. The numbers were just as unimpressive in the sacks department. Former number one pick Mario Williams came of age with nine and rookie Brian Cushing added four more. Beyond that the Texans struggled to generate a consistent pass rush.
Look for Houston to grab running back C.J. Spiller if he is on the board at number 20. Spiller, however, is a projected top 15 pick. As is defensive tackle Dan Williams who would also be a good fit. If both are gone the Texans may have to look at the cornerback spot where Kyle Wilson would be available.
Picks: 1st R-31st, 2nd R-31st, 3rd R-30th, 4th R-31st, 5th R-31st, 7th R-31st, 33rd & 39th
Needs: OL, CB, DT
It's hard to find needs or flaws for that matter when a team starts the season 14-0 and makes it to the Super Bowl. However, the reality for the Colts is that once again despite being the NFL's best team Indianapolis fell shy of a Super Bowl title. As long as Peyton Manning is leading the team the Colts will always be a favorite to make the playoffs and win the AFC South. The Colts were in the top 10 for every major offensive stat category except one: rushing. Indianapolis ranked dead last in rushing yards in 2009 and when the Colts needed tough ground yards in Super Bowl XLIV they were unable to get it.
The Colts slipped slightly in total and scoring defense in 2009 but that's excusable considering the number on injuries Indianapolis sustained, especially in the secondary. Indianapolis ranked 16th in sacks last season and a slightly better push up front would make a great team that much better. Depth in the secondary is a concern now that Marlin Jackson is in Philadelphia.
Once again the Colts will be picking late but they've made a habit out of nailing the first round pick. The Colts are never a team that drafts by need only and at 31 it's hard to gauge what the Colts will do. Indianapolis would be set up nicely if a cornerback like Joe Haden was still on the board at 31 as he could be considered the best available player. Certainly the Colts would have options at defensive line including Jared Odrick.
Picks: 1st R-10th, 3rd R-10th, 4th R-10th, 5th R-12th, 6th R-11th & 34th
Needs: DE, S, LB, WR
There was no streakier team in the NFL in 2009 than Jacksonville. After an 0-2 start the Jaguars rebounded and stood at 7-5 and in position to make the playoffs. Naturally the Jags dropped all four remaining games to finish the season 7-9. Jacksonville personified the play of quarterback David Garrard who at times looked like a solid veteran but other times looked unsure and inconsistent. To be sure Garrard would be more consistent with a better set of receivers and the Jaguars should again focus on getting playmakers around Garrard and super running back Maurice Jones-Drew.
Jacksonville's late season slide is attributed in large part to the poor play of the defense. The Jaguars were hampered by the worst pass rush in the league as the Jags registered a paltry 14 sacks in '09. Jacksonville partially addressed this problem by luring Aaron Kampman away from Green Bay but health is a concern there. Jacksonville must also address the secondary, specifically the safety position, where the Jaguars are simply not getting enough production.
Safety Earl Thomas would address an immediate need as would defensive end Derrick Morgan. Most of the first nine picks will be offensive or defensive tackles so the Jaguars would be in position to nab the best available offensive skill player. Running back C.J. Spiller would make a great understudy to Jones-Drew and wide receiver Dez Bryant would be an upgrade but comes with baggage.
Picks: 1st R-16th, 3rd R-13th & 33rd, 4th R-13th, 5th R-17th, 6th R-16th & 38th, 7th R-15th & 34th
Needs: DE, CB, WR
After a successful 13-3 campaign in 2008 the Titans fell mightily and opened 2009 with an 0-6 record. The low point came in Week 6 when Tennessee was embarrassed by New England 59-0. But after a bye week the Titans inserted Vince Young as starting quarterback and the Titans finished with an impressive 8-2 record after the brutal start. Certainly the Titans have a superstar in running back Chris Johnson who finished with 2,006 rushing yards but Tennessee will need an upgrade at wide receiver to prop up the 23rd ranked passing offense.
The Titans finished 2nd in scoring defense and 7th in total defense in that playoff year of 2008 but the defense did an about face in 2009 as Tennessee wound up 28th in both scoring and total defense. Tennessee gave up 300 yards passing to six different quarterbacks (Matt Schaub did it twice) as the Titans secondary was routinely carved up. The Titans finished '09 second to last in passing defense, a stark contrast to '08 when they were a top 10 unit.
Losing defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch in free agency was a major blow to the Tennessee defensive line that was already hurting without 2009 free agent Albert Haynesworth. Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul should be ripe for the picking at number 16 and Brandon Graham would likely also be available. The Titans might reach and grab a cornerback in Kyle Wilson or Joe Haden.