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2010 Draft Needs: AFC South

Contributed by: Bill Enright
Last Updated: Apr 21, 2010 12:46 AM


Indianapolis Colts

Picks: #31 (Rd 1),  #63 (Rd 2), # 94 (Rd 3), # 129 (Rd 4), #162 (Rd 5), #238 (Rd 7), #240 (Rd 7), # 246 (Rd 7)

Quick Glance: Not many teams would consider a 14-2 season, plus an AFC Championship, a disappointing season. But when you play for the Colts and lose in the Superbowl all their success in the regular season and most of the post-season, seems insignificant. Luckily Colts players and their upper-management do not dwell on the past.

A week after their Superbowl loss, Colts' President, Bill Polian, said the team is already preparing for the 2010 season.  In addition to Peyton Manning's ability to dominate defenses, it's also Polian's knack for drafting talented players in late rounds and adding depth to the roster, that has made the Colts so successful year-after-year. And in case you were wondering, Las Vegas picked the Colts as the favorites to win the Superbowl for the upcoming season.

Top Three Needs: 1) OL              2) DE              3) Safety

Offensive Lineman: The Colts need to add depth to their O-Line and possibly find a starter in this week's draft. For one, protecting their greatest asset, Peyton Manning, is a top priority. Plus Indy ranked 32nd (last) in the NFL in rushing yards-per-game, so a lineman who excels at pass blocking but can also open up holes for RBs Joe Addai and Donald Brown would be beneficial. Polian won't draft a player based on need if the talent isn't there, so I doubt they will select an O-Lineman in the first round. But if they do, they may consider USC's Charles Brown, Maryland's Bruce Campbell, or Indiana's Roger Saffold. Colts' Center, Jeff Saturday, turns 35-years-old this season and while he is still more than capable of protecting Peyton, finding a replacement for future seasons plays into Polian's philosophy. If they want to add depth to the Center position Florida's Maurkice Pouncey or Baylor's J.D. Walton will be available.

Defensive End: The Colts have two of the best Defensive Ends in the league in Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis, but when it comes to pass rushers, the more the merrier.  Although a starting job at this position isn't foreseeable in 2010, Freeney and Mathis are susceptible to injury. Last season Freeney was bothered by a foot injury and the Colts struggled to find a suitable replacement.  Indy's Defensive scheme calls for agile-speedy rushers who are mobile from sideline-to-sideline. At 6'4 with a 40-yard-dash time of 4.65, Clemson's Ricky Sapp would be an excellent fit and still available in the later rounds. But if the Colts want to use their first round pick on a Defensive End they may select Michigan's Brandon Graham. At 6'0-265 pounds he has the size and frame the Colts desire from their D-Ends. However, Graham may be off the board by the time Indy picks.

Safety:  The Colts had a lot of injuries in the secondary last season, the biggest of which was Bob Sanders' torn bicep. Sanders is a perennial injury risk, he played in just 49 of the last 96 regular season games. Luckily for the Colts, they had talented players on the roster ready to fill in as needed. But if I said it once I've said it a million times, the Colts love adding depth to their roster.  So players like Georgia Tech's Morgan Burnett and LSU's Chad Jones become potential mid-round picks

What Else?  Despite drafting Defensive Tackle, Fili Moala, in the 2nd Round in last year's Draft, the Colts may address this issue again in 2010. Moala had little impact while in the lineup and if he continues to struggle with stopping the run and the pass, the Colts will need an immediate replacement. Some DTs available in the later rounds include Georgia's Geno Atkins and Duke's Vince Oghobaase.

 

Houston Texans

Picks: #20 (Rd 1), # 51 ( Rd 2), # 81 (Rd 3), # 118 (Rd 4), # 150 (Rd 5),#187 (Rd 6) #197 (Rd 6), # 227 (Rd 7)

Quick Glance:  2009 was a historical year for The Houston Texans.  Finishing with a 9-7 record, the team had their first winning season in franchise history.  Despite finishing 2nd in the AFC South, the Texans missed the playoffs in '09. They have yet to make it to the postseason in the franchise's eight-year lifespan. But if there is an “up and coming” team in the NFL, it is surely the Texans.  Last season, their Offense ranked 4th in the league and their Defense was 13th. Coach Gary Kubiak recently received a contract extension that takes him through 2012. Along with Kubiak, General Manager Rick Smith has showed prowess in the draft and doesn't hesitate when it comes to making trades/deals on draft day. The Texans 20th pick in the first round is the lowest in the team's history.

Top Three Needs 1) RB        2) CB         3/ DT

Running Back-The Texans run game looked promising in 2008. Steve Slaton had an outstanding Rookie campaign rushing for 1,282 yards and 9 TDs. But in '09 Slaton and the rest of the Texans backfield were horrendous. The team was 30th in yards-per-game (92.2) and 31st in yards-per-carry (3.5). Coach Kubiak has publicly criticized his RBs and has made it clear the team wants to draft a more powerful back in 2010. The Texans could be focusing in on Fresno State's Ryan Matthews. He's 6'0 and 218 pounds, ran 4.37 in the 40-yard dash and would be a perfect fit in Kubiak's zone-block scheme.  This year's draft class has a lot of depth at RB, so if the Texans decide to address a different position in Round 1 they won't need to panic.  Mississippi State's Anthony Dixon and Stanford's Toby Gerhart are both powerful runners with good size.

Corner Back-Whenever you play Peyton Manning twice a year, a proficient secondary is a necessity. The Texans lost Pro Bowl Corner Back, Dunta Robinson, who signed with the Atlanta Falcons this off-season. His departure leaves a gaping hole in the Texans' secondary. The team drafted CB Clover Quin in 2009 and the rookie performed admirably in his rookie season, starting 12 of the last 16 games at Left Corner. At the Right Corner position the Texans have Brice McCain penciled in as the starter. But if Houston decides to address the position in the first few rounds there are a lot of possibilities. They include Florida's Joe Haden, Boise State's Kyle Wilson, Alabama's Kareem Jackson, Florida State's Patrick Robinson and Oklahoma State's Perrish Cox. Unfortunately for the Texans there are a few teams ahead of them with needs at CB. Haden and Wilson will likely be off the board in the early 1st round, but Patrick Robinson may be available at the 20th pick.

Defensive Tackle The Texans Defense is on the rise thanks to Pro Bowler/Defensive End Mario Williams, Linebackers DeMeco Ryans and Brian Cushing. Houston drafted Defensive Tackles in the first round in 2005 and 2007 but have yet to acquire a dominant pass-rusher. The Texans ranked 25th in sacks in ‘09 and Defensive Tackles Amobi Okoye and Shaun Cody contributed just 2 sacks to the team's total of 30. The best DTs in this year's class (Ndamukong Suh, Gerald McCoy, Brian Price) will be off the board by the time the Texans pick. But there will be plenty of mid-to-late 1st Round picks still available. They include Penn State's DT Jared Odrick and Syracuse's Arthur Jones. Ordrick is a better pass-rusher than Jones, so if the Texans go DT in the 1st, Ordrick is the likely pick. But if they wait until the 2nd or 3rd round some possibilities include Duke's Vince Oghobasse, Louisiana Tech's D'Anthony Smith, and Georgia's Geno Atkins.

What Else?As previously stated, Texans GM Rick Smith likes to wheel and deal on draft day and with eight picks (two in the 6th round), Houston may trade up-trade down-or trade players away for additional picks in future drafts. But after they address their key needs, the team may choose to select a safety. The Texans started five different players at the safety position in '09, so a more consistent performer in the secondary would be ideal for the 2010 season. Potential picks at the Safety position include Texas' Earl Thomas, Georgia Tech's Morgan Burnett, and USC's Taylor Mays.

 

Tennesee Titans

Picks: #16 (Rd 1), #77 (Rd 3), #97 (Rd 3), #111 (Rd 4), #148 (Rd 5), #185 (Rd 6), #207 (Rd 6), #222 (Rd 7), #241 (Rd 7)

Quick Glance: After an awful start (0-6) in 2009, the Titans won eight of their final 10 games and finished 8-8 on the year.  One major reason for their turnaround was benching veteran QB Kerry Collins and starting Vince Young. Plus RB Chris Johnson was incredible all season and became just the 6th back in NFL history to finish with at least 2,000 rushing yards. In the last four years, the Titans picked an Offensive player three times in the first round, so now it's time to add some skilled Defenders. Tennessee was 28th in yards allowed and their pass-coverage was one of the league's worst. Luckily for the Titans this year's draft class is flooded with Defensive stars in the making. The Titans have a bunch of picks in the middle rounds, but only 1 pick out of the first 76.

Top Three Needs: 1) DE          2) OLB           3) CB

Defensive End: Veteran DE Kyle Vanden Bosch signed with the Detroit Lions and the Titans' other starter, Jevon Kearse, will likely retire. So the Titans need a Defensive End who can start in 2010 and make an immediate impact. Georgia Tech's Derrick Morgan is the top D-End talent in this year's class and would jump right into a starting role without much of a learning curve. He had 12.5 sacks and 39 tackles in 2009 and is being compared to Julius Peppers. Unfortunately for Tennessee, Morgan may not be available at pick 16 (See Jaguars's needs below).

Outside Linebacker: If Morgan isn't available, the Titans could select a hybrid OLB who can play either Linebacker of Defensive End. Both Michigan's Brandon Graham and USF's Jason Pierre-Paul could play either position. Pierre-Paul may have more raw talent but the Titans need someone who can play now, so Graham might be the better fit. Sergio Kindle from Texas is also another potential option. If the Titans focus on a pure OLB Thaddeus Gibson from Ohio State should be their guy.

Corner Back: The Titans have a Pro Bowl Corner in Cortland Finnegan, but lack talent opposite him. Although former starter Nick Harper isn't expected to sign with the team, the Titans did sign Tye Hill, who played for the Falcons in 2009, and re-signed Rod Hood. Despite drafting two CB's  last year (Ryan Mouton and Jason McCourty) the Titans may again choose to use one of their two 3rd round picks to help in the secondary.   Boise State's Kyle Wilson is a talented corner with great instincts and may be available in the 3rd Round. Florida State's Patrick Robinson is another possibility and is more likely to be available later in the draft than Wilson.

What Else: The Titans have a solid group of young and talented receivers, including last year's 1st round selection Kenny Britt. But Nate Washington has yet to prove he can be a true Number 1, and Justin Gage sat out four games due to injury.  Texas' Jordan Shipley is projected to go in the 3rd-4th round. Plus former Longhorn, Vince Young, wouldn't mind having a fellow Texas alum on the roster.

 

Jacksonville Jaguars

Picks: #11 (Rd 1), # 74 (Rd 3), #108 (Rd 4), #143 (Rd 5), #180 (Rd 6), #203 (Rd 6)

Quick Glance: Heading into December of '09, the Jags were very much in the playoff hunt. At 7-5 it looked like they could make a push for an AFC Wildcat spot. Instead, they ended their season with four straight losses and finished last in the AFC South with a 7-9 record. The Jacksonville Offense relied heavily on Running Back Maurice Jones Drew, who averaged 4.5 yards-per-carry. Plus QB David Garrard found a new favorite target in WR Mike Sims Walker, who finished the year with nine TDs.  But it was their Defense that performed poorly for the majority of the season. With just 14 sacks on the year, the Jags had the lowest total in the NFL. But the team has a plan for 2010, which includes moving back to a 4-3 Defense. Jacksonville has only six picks in this years draft and none in the 2nd round.

Top Three Needs: 1) Defensive End            2) Wide Receiver          3) Center

Defensive End: Just like their rivals in the AFC South, the Jaguars also need a Defensive End to help improve the pass-rush. They signed Free Agent Aaron Kampman this off-season. But the Veteran failed to post double digit sacks the last two years. Luckily for Jacksonville, they get to pick before the Titans, Texans, and Colts, so if they want a “cream of the crop” DE, they can grab one. As stated above (See Titans' needs), Derrick Morgan is considered the best Defensive End this year and is definitely worthy of a 10th overall selection.  Morgan would be an excellent fit to play opposite Kampan and may even help the seasoned-vet have a resurgent season. If the Jags hold off till the later rounds, Everson Griffen from USC could be a valuable selection

Wide Receiver: QB David Garrard received a $60 million contract extension in 2007 and now it's time to give him some weapons. Mike Sims Walker will remain the team's #1, but a quality 2nd option in the passing game would be ideal. WR Troy Williamson is injury prone and the Jags decided against renewing Torry Holt's contract. Drafting a WR in the 1st round isn't likely (unless WR Dez Bryant is available), so the Jags will wait until the middle rounds to select a Wide Receiver like Texas' Jordan Shipley or Minnesota's Eric Decker.

Center:  The Jaguars ranked near the very bottom of the league in the “sacks allowed” category. They have a relatively young Offensive Line, but their Center, Brad Meester, turns 34-years-old this year and may see his starting role vanish if the Jags draft a talented replacement.  But due to their low pick total, don't expect them to draft a Center until at least the 4th round. Matt Tennant from Boston College or J.D. Walton out of Baylor would be solid options and will likely be available.

What Else: There is some speculation that the Jaguars are considering relocating to Los Angeles. Jacksonville is one of the league's smaller markets and the Jags have trouble selling tickets, which causes their games to be blacked out on TV. Drafting a highly publicized player like Florida's Tim Tebow could help fill seats.



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