AFC South draft capsules
2. TENNESSEE TITANS (2-14)
LAST SEASON: Ken Whisenhunt’s debut started off with so much promise thanks to win in Kansas City. That was high point as Titans wound up starting three quarterbacks, losing 14 games and posting franchise’s worst record since 1994. They at least landed their highest draft selection since 1984 to help rebuild.
THEY NEED: QB, though Zach Mettenberger may be given chance to show he can be starter; DL, WR, RB.
THEY DON’T NEED: LT and RG after using first-round selection on those positions each of last two drafts. P and K after re-signing Brett Kern and Ryan Succop.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: Southern California DT Leonard Williams, Florida OLB-DE Dante Fowler, Nebraska OLB-DE Randy Gregory, Georgia RB Todd Gurley (if Titans trade down, adding selections).
OUTLOOK: Oregon QB Marcus Mariota doesn’t fit Whisenhunt’s offense, giving Titans freedom to trade if offer is right. Free agent signees LB Brian Orakpo, CB Perrish Cox and S Da’Norris Searcy will help new assistant coach Dick LeBeau improve defense. Williams could be key to his schemes beside DL Jurrell Casey. Trading down also gives them option of adding another pass rusher or giving help to Mettenberger by choosing Gurley or WR.
3. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (3-13)
LAST SEASON: Lost nine of first 10 games in franchise’s sixth losing season in last seven years. Jaguars are 7-25 in coach Gus Bradley’s two seasons at start of another rebuilding project. This one, though, is unlike others: Jacksonville started 10 rookies in 2014, including eight on offense. QB Blake Bortles started final 13 games, finishing with 11 touchdown passes and 17 interceptions, and remains key to turning around floundering franchise.
THEY NEED: DE, WR, RB, LB, S.
THEY DON’T NEED: QB, DT, CB.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: Southern Cal DL Leonard Williams, Florida DE Dante Fowler Jr., Alabama WR Amari Cooper. Team also would be open to trading down, especially given depth of draft at DED.
OUTLOOK: Jaguars spent big in free agency for first time in years, signing TE Julius Thomas, RT Jermey Parnell, DE Jared Odrick, LB Dan Skuta, CB Davon House, FS Sergio Brown and C Stefen Wisniewski. All could be starters in 2015. Additions mean GM Dave Caldwell feels team is close to contending for AFC playoffs, and owner Shad Khan certainly will expect better results from his increased investment.
16. HOUSTON TEXANS (9-7)
LAST SEASON: Texans made seven-game improvement from dreadful 2-14 season in 2013 in first year under coach Bill O’Brien. DE J.J. Watt won his second Defensive Player of Year honors, but last year’s No. 1 overall pick, OLB Jadeveon Clowney, played just four games because of injuries. That coupled with injuries to several quarterbacks kept Houston from returning to postseason.
THEY NEED: WR after cutting longtime star Andre Johnson, who signed with Colts; RB depth behind Arian Foster; OLB.
THEY DON’T NEED: QB.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: Georgia RB Todd Gurley, Southern Cal WR Nelson Agholor, Louisville WR DeVante Parker, Missouri DE Shane Ray.
OUTLOOK: DeAndre Hopkins became Houston’s top receiver when he led team with career-high 1,210 yards receiving, and Texans added veterans Cecil Shorts III and Nate Washington. So WR would not be expected to fill shoes of Johnson. Foster’s lack of health has been problem in past few years, so adding another solid RB possible for team that has long had inconsistency at QB. Defense should be Texans’ strength if Clowney is healthy to play with Watt and offseason acquisition DT Vince Wilfork.
29. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (13-6)
LAST SEASON: Indy won its second straight AFC South title and advanced to its first AFC championship game of Andrew Luck era. Luck threw for 4,761 yards and 40 TDs, both franchise records, but running game struggled for most of season. Defense had trouble pressuring quarterbacks after Robert Mathis, league’s 2013 sacks champion, was lost with season-ending injury.
THEY NEED: S to start opposite Mike Adams, OL, DL, RB
THEY DON’T NEED: QB, with Luck under contract for at least two more seasons.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: Alabama S Landon Collins, Florida State C Cameron Erving, Stanford OT Andrus Peat, Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon, Arizona State WR Jaelen Strong
OUTLOOK: GM Ryan Grigson has options after restocking defense in free agency and adding RB Frank Gore and WR Andre Johnson to offense. If Grigson drafts for need he’ll take a safety, pass protector or pass rusher. He could find Gore’s eventual successor. He might make pre-emptive move by taking receiver before T.Y. Hilton, Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener hit free agency. And, of course, Grigson would never rule out a trade.
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