2018 NFL Draft Needs by Team: AFC South
The majority of NFL free agents have selected their destination so now the draft needs have settled into place. With that comes a much clearer picture of where each team will likely look in the opening rounds. Where each player lands will have a significant impact on their fantasy status, as opportunities and schemes make all the difference in the world. Our series takes us into the AFC South today, where the Jaguars surprised the nation, running away with the division. Part of that, however, was due to the fact that both Andrew Luck and DeShaun Watson missed nearly 30 games combined. With the right picks at the end of the month, any of the four teams could set themselves up to be in contention for the 2018 NFL Playoffs.
Draft Picks: No. 68, No. 80, No. 98, No. 103, No. 177, No. 211, No. 214, No. 222
Team Needs: OT, TE, CB, OG, WR, LB
DeShaun Watson can be a tremendous quarterback in this league if he can return fully healthy and continue his development, but it will also be dependent on whether the Texans address their abysmal offensive line. After trade Duane Brown last year, the unit was among the worst in the league. They’re secondary, particularly the cornerback position was in shambles as well, but they already added both Jonathan Joseph and Aaron Colvin. Still, it seems probable that they will spend a pick or two on adding to that combo. Furthermore, Watson could use some weapons to pass the ball to beyond DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller. Neither Braxton Miller or Bruce Ellington will cut it as a #3 option in a strong offense, so unless they want to linger in mediocrity, they’ll want to add from the depth of wide receivers in the draft or potentially one of the four potentially excellent tight ends available.
The problem here is that they mortgaged their 2018 1st round pick (which turned out to be the 4th overall pick) in order to acquire the Browns’ 25th pick last year to select Watson. While it turned out great, they’ve got to be wishing they could have found a way to keep that pick and still land Watson. Houston also dealt their 2nd round pick to Cleveland, but in a separate deal. They did this to rid themselves of the Brock Osweiler albatross contract. The pickings won’t be all that exciting at the start of the third round, but perhaps they will recognize they can win now, assuming a healthy J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney and Watson. If they do, don’t rule them out in yet another trade up that could get them a big-time offensive tackle prospect should one drop into the middle of the 2nd round.
Should they hold steady with their two third round picks and two fourth-round picks, you can bank on them taking whichever of Brian O’Neill or Tyrell Crosby is still there for them. Perhaps Hayden Hurst or another of the top-tier tight ends (Mark Andrews, Mike Gesicki, Dallas Goedert) will drop. If not, there is a distinct possibility they can get one of the most talented receivers in the draft class as late as the fourth round. Antonio Callaway has off-the-field concerns, otherwise, he would likely be in consideration as a first-round pick. The Texans would have to be extremely pleased with their draft if they could bring in a combination of O’Neill/Crosby, Callaway and one of the top four tight ends. While this may be optimistic, it is also an entirely realistic scenario.
Players to Target: Brian O’Neill (OT), Carlton Davis (CB), Tyrell Crosby (OT), Hayden Hurst (TE), Braden Smith (OG), Tavarus McFadden (CB), Antonio Callaway (WR), Josey Jewell (LB), Austin Corbett (OG/C), Brandon Parker (OT)
Draft Picks: No. 6, No. 36, No. 37, No. 49, No. 67, No. 104, No. 140, No. 178, No. 221
Team Needs: WR, OT, DE, OG, LB, RB
Indianapolis kicked off their off-season pulling off a brilliant trade with the Jets. Granted, the writing was on the wall since this is among the most highly anticipated quarterback draft classes in years and that the Colts already have themselves one of the best in the game. Still, it was highway robbery for them to add pick #37, another 2nd round pick this season and a second round pick next year just to move back three spots and probably still acquire the same player they had their sites set on. This was precisely what the Colts needed, too, as they’ve got holes galore in their depth chart.
Bradley Chubb falling to the 6th pick would be an absolute dream, as their pass rush is virtually non-existent. Should he not last, one of Saquon Barkley or Quenton Nelson are virtual locks to be selected at #6, as they have much more pressing needs than secondary. Frank Gore skipped town, and frankly needed to be replaced had he not. Indianapolis has made it clear that they would like to take a running back early. Whether that is Barkley extremely early or a back like Derrius Guice or Sony Michel, who would be an ideal fit with Marlon Mack, you can bet on Indy adding an early-down starting running back with one of their first four picks.
Another one of those picks, and perhaps two, will enable them to finally protect Andrew Luck. As mentioned earlier, Nelson is a prime candidate and could potentially be a rookie Pro Bowler like Zach Martin. If they pass on him for either Chubb or Barkley, there will be a first-round talent sitting there at pick 36 for them. For as we know, there will be enough reaches that one of Will Hernandez, Orlando Brown, or prospects similar to them will fall a few picks.
Finally, and perhaps most important, the Colts’ wide receiver core was decimated this off-season. As it stands now, they’ve got T.Y. Hilton, Ryan Grant, Chester Rogers and a handful of players no one has ever heard of. That just might be the worst group in the entire league. While it is possible that the Colts grab two offensive linemen in those first 50 picks, it is much more probable that they add two wideouts. There should be four to six of them selected at some point in the second round which only further demonstrates how terrific their trade was with New York.
Players to Target: Bradley Chubb (DE), Saquon Barkley (RB), Quenton Nelson (OG), D.J. Moore (WR), James Washington (WR), Will Hernandez (OG), Christian Kirk (WR), D.J. Chark (WR), Orlando Brown (OT), Sony Michel (RB)
Draft Picks: No. 29, No. 61, No. 93, No. 129, No. 203, No. 230, No. 247
Team Needs: QB, TE, LB, CB, WR, OT
The Jaguars are in a strange spot as they have minimal needs outside of quarterback. Oddly enough, they just signed their mediocre signal caller, Blake Bortles, to a three-year deal, so it would be a bit of a surprise if they were to select one in a win-now situation. What’s more is that they are unlikely to see even Mason Rudolph or Lamar Jackson fall that far with teams like the Patriots, Chargers, Ravens and Steelers potentially snatching them up a handful of picks before the Jags.
They’ve got depth at wide receiver with Marqise Lee, the emergent Keelan Cole, Dede Westbrook and now Donte Moncrief. While it wouldn’t be wild to see them pull the trigger on Courtland Sutton or Calvin Ridley should they to pick 29, it is quite a bit more likely that they will fill a more pressing need. With slot corner, Aaron Colvin and linebacker, Paul Posluszny announcing his retirement, replacing one of them ought to be a priority.
With all of that said, there is a sizeable drop-off in talent at linebacker after Leighton Vander Esch and at corner following Josh Jackson, so they will either be gifted with a player who drops, have to reach for a second-tier talent like Jaire Alexander at corner or Malik Jefferson at linebacker, or they can continue to beef up their line with a piece like Kolton Miller. Knowing Tom Coughlin’s level of influence and his affinity for the hosses, Miller or another offensive lineman is likely the favorite to be selected at #29.
Players to Target: Kolton Miller (OT), Jaire Alexander (CB), Malik Jefferson (LB), Dallas Goedert (TE), Courtland Sutton (WR), Mason Rudolph (QB), Joshua Jackson (CB), Connor Williams (OT), Lamar Jackson (QB), Hayden Hurst (TE)
Draft Picks: No. 25, No. 57, No. 89, No. 125, No. 162, No. 199
Team Needs: LB, C, OT, NT, OG, S
Every time I’ve mentioned the Titans this year, it has been in the sense of them having a load of work to do. That may seem contrary to logic since they snuck into the playoffs at 9-7, but their -22 point differential was worse than five non-playoff teams, and they would be kidding themselves if they thought they could pull off that magic trick again.
Fortunatley for Tennessee, their holes are obvious and their spot in the draft fits their needs almost perfectly. The Titans need a linebacker core overhaul and it will likely begin with pick #25 in the first round. In fact, besides three quarterbacks going in the top five, this pick may be the easiest call in the first round. There are five likely first-round linebackers and three are expected to be selected somewhere in the 20’s. Whether it is Leighton Vander Esch, Rashaan Evans or Harold Landry, you can bank on Tennessee snagging one of them.
Should they choose not to, it would be because they fell in love with either Isaiah Wynn or James Daniels, who could both be Pro Bowl centers in the NFL at some point. This is a clear need for the Titans as well, as is their defensive interior. While it would be terrific if Maurice Hurst fell to them, their need at linebacker might be too significant, causing them to wait another round to pick up their defensive tackle.
Players to Target: Leighton Vander Esch (LB), Isaiah Wynn (OG/C), Rashaan Evans (LB), Maurice Hurst (DT/DE), James Daniels (C), Harold Landry (LB/DE), Mike McGlinchey (OT), Connor Williams (OT), Taven Bryan (DT), Kolton Miller (OT)
More NFL Draft Needs
- AFC East
- AFC North
- AFC West
- NFC East
- NFC South
- NFC North
- NFC West