The AFC South is going to be very interesting to watch this year.
There is a distinct favorite (the Texans), which a strong contender that everyone has their eye on (the Colts), and 2 teams who are trying to remake themselves.
If the Texans fan find a second receiver, they might run away with this division.
If the Colts can fill a few more gaps, they might be an 11 win team again.
If the Titans can find balance and consistency on offense, they can be a real thorn for the leaders.
The Jags, well the Jags need playmakers outside of MJD.
Let's see who found what they needed.
DeAndre Hopkins WR: Hopkins looks to be just what the doctor ordered for this Houston offense. They have been looking for years to find a legitimate threat to put opposite Andre Johnson. Hopkins was a steady producer and leader for the Clemson Tigers and ran much better than was expected. He has grabbed the #1 spot at split end for the Texans and should get favorable matchups as teams have to focus on Johnson.
DJ Swearinger S: I was not sure where to put DJ as he is slotted to start week 1, but will likely move to second string if/when Ed Reed comes back from injury. Regardless, this kid is an enforcer on the back end of this Texans defense, having already made news for a hit in the preseason, though he should stay away from knees from here on out.
Sam Montgomery DE/OLB: Montgomery was a beast in college, dominating for his last 2 seasons at LSU. He is slotted as an OLB for the Texans and is just one more piece on a loaded defense. I look for him to be the understudy to Brooks Reed shortly and with the injury history on the Texans D, he should see the field as a rookie. BTW, getting him in the third was a steal.
Projected Starters: None
Bjoern Werner OLB: All of the Colts first 3 picks are in the 2 deep at this point, with Bjoern Werner leading the way as the understudy to Erik Walden. Werner was a stud DE for the Seminoles who played every down and every situation. He has to get used to playing standing up, but I will be shocked if he doesn't start at least one game as a rookie.
Hugh Thornton OG: Thornton is a massive human being who, with a little technique work, could be around the NFL as a road-grader for awhile. He was a tackle in college, but projects as a solid guard in the pros due to limited lateral movement. He envelopes defenders.
Khaled Holmes C: This draft illustrates the value that the Colts place on their offensive line. Holmes was a multi-year starter, and leader, for the Men of Troy. He played guard and center in college and you saw the difference when he was not available for USC. I expect to see him push for the starting spot in a year or 2.
Luke Joeckel OT: Joeckel was viewed as a plug and play tackle coming out, and that's why he was
the #2 overall pick. He has stepped into the right tackle spot, and the Jags think that they have something to build on with him paired with Eugene Monroe as bookend tackles.
John Cyprien S: Cyprien is an aggressive safety who is a very strong tackler. He is the kind of hitters that receivers remember after going over the middle. He needs to improve in his keep pass coverage as he is more prone to deliver a blow than break up a pass, but there is plenty of talent here.
Dwayne Gratz CB: An aggressive corner with great measurable who showed a knack for causing turnovers while he was at UCONN. He is best when facing the QB as it works with his tendency to keep his eyes in the backfield. He is slotted to start at left corner for the Jags as a rookie.
Ace Sanders WR: Sanders is an electric player in the open field, and is the kind of playmaker that the Jags have been missing in their receive core. I expect to see a lot of him in the slot and return game this year.
Denard Robinson WR: Robinson is also going to compete for time in the slot for the Jags. He is actually 3 inches taller and considerable faster than Sanders in terms of long speed, so this could be a very interesting competition. In the end, the Jags would be foolish to not get them both touches. Denard showed his home run ability in college, and the possibilities that he gives them on offense in terms of his dual threat ability are tantalizing.
Josh Evans S: Evans is a big safety who was kind of hidden on a loaded Gator defense. He started 24 games in Gainesville and was known for his physical play, and is slotted to work as the understudy to Dwight Lowery. The Jags took him for his measurable, and have been pleasantly surprised as he climbed their depth chart.
Demetrius McCray CB: McCray was dominant in FCS football, leading the Southern conference in interceptions twice. Considering how little he was tested by opponents, that is very impressive. He is a bit of a project, having played against a lower level of competition, but he is the kind of big cornerback that Gus Bradley likes in his defense, and has shown well enough to work up to the 2-deep in the preseason. He matches up well down the field with bigger receivers.
Chance Warmack OG: Warmack has picked up right where he left off at Alabama. He is a dominant run blocker, and the Titans think he will revitalize their rushing attack behind Chris Johnson.
Justin Hunter WR: Hunter was a star in the SEC and is coming into a improving receiver corp for the Titans, but one that is very much in flux. I expect him to push hard for targets.
Brian Schwenke C: Schwenke is a very mobile center who has working into the 2 deep. His athletic ability will give the Titans the potential for some explosive running plays when he is on the field. He should pair very well down the road with Warmack and Andy Levitre as the future of the interior for the Titans O-Line.