AFC SOUTH OFFSEASON PREVIEW

February 21, 2017

 

HOUSTON TEXANS

CAP ROOM (per Spotrac): $26,716,388

 

TEAM NEEDS: QB, ROLB, RT, FS, SS, NT, TE, P

 

FREE AGENCY ADDITIONS

NT Dontari Poe

SS Quinten Demps

K Nick Novak

OG Oday Aboushi

 

GM Rick Smith made some splashes in Free Agency in 2016, some of which the Texans are still on the hook for (*cough* Osweiler *cough*), As a result, I don't expect them to be particularly active this year. I would expect the Texans to re-sign safety Quinten Demps, Oday Aboushi, and Nick Novak, despite a likely future camp competition at Kicker with Ka'imi Fairbairn. One player who the Texans could make a run at if he hits Free Agency is Chiefs NT Dontari Poe. Poe played under Texans Assistant Head Coach Romeo Crennel his rookie year in 2012 when he was the Head Coach of the Chiefs and would be a tremendous upgrade over the retiring Vince Wilfork. With all the money wrapped up in Osweiler, I don't see the Texans going the Free Agency route (sorry Tony Romo-stans) to address the QB situation, instead opting to address the position via the more affordable draft avenue. I also expect the Texans to bring some Punters in through UDFA to compete for the position.

 

 

NFL DRAFT

QB Mitch Trubisky

ROLB TJ Watt

CB Howard Wilson

ROLB Carroll Phillips

NT Steve Tu'ikolovatu

RT Dan Skipper

TE Blake Jarwin

 

I mentioned above that I expect the Texans to address QB with their first round pick in the 2017 Draft. Whether it's a player like Mitch Trubisky slipping or pulling the trigger on a guy like Patrick Mahomes, I would be surprised if the Texans don't go with a QB with their first selection. The TJ Watt connection is obvious with his brother on the team. With AJ Bouye likely departing for greener pa$tures in Free Agency, a player like local Houston product Howard WIlson could be a great replacement option until Jonathan Joseph's play begins to drop off with age. The Texans scouts showed a ton of interest in Carroll Phillips in Mobile and that's a match I would keep an eye on. If the Texans miss out on Poe in Free Agency, run plugging Steve Tu'ikolovatu would be great value for the Texans in the mid-to-later rounds. I would be surprised Derek Newton comes back at any type of high-level with rupturing both of his patella tendons, and right tackle needs to be addressed for depth. With a deep TE class, there could be some good players available late, with this scenario having the Texans nabbing Oklahoma State TE Blake Jarwin.

 

 

 

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

CAP ROOM (per Spotrac): $55,880,819

 

TEAM NEEDS: LOLB, ROLB, RB, SS, RILB, LILB, NT, CB, P

 

FREE AGENCY ADDITIONS

SS Eric Berry

OLB Melvin Ingram

NT Brandon Williams

DE Lawrence Guy

CB Leodis McKelvin

TE Jack Doyle

ILB Manti Te'o

ILB Bruce Carter

QB Ryan Fitzpatrick

 

I expect new Colts GM Chris Ballard to be extremely aggressive this offseason in surrounding franchise QB Andrew Luck with some talent, something that the since-fired Ryan Grigson never did. Ballard, who joins the Colts from Kansas City, begins his rule by bringing with him Chiefs Free Agent Eric Berry to fill in one of the starting safety positions. If the Chargers can't come to terms with pass rusher Melvin Ingram, I would expect the Colts to make a strong push to sign him to address their tepid pass rush situation. Next, the Colts could cut bait with one former Ravens free agent, Arthur Jones, for another in Lawrence Guy and address the Nose Tackle position with the underrated Brandon Williams. The Colts need to find some depth at CB and do so by bringing Leodis McKelvin into the mix. Manti Te'o and Bruce Carter bring some cost-effective veteran leadership and depth at Inside Linebacker, which is barren after the release of D'Qwell Jackson. If QB Ryan Fitzpatrick doesn't retire, I can see him taking a back up gig in the NFL this year and the Colts would be a nice landing spot in the event Luck goes down. TE Jack Doyle becomes the only player on the Colts roster that Ballard chooses to bring back.

 

 

NFL DRAFT

RB Leonard Fournette

RILB Haason Reddick

ROLB Derek Rivers

LOLB Vince Biegel

FS Jordan Sterns

SS Montae Nicholson

CB Jeremy Cutrer

LILB Marcus Oliver

 

No, this offseason preview does not have the Colts doing anything to address the Offensive Line. Why? Because bringing in a generational RB like Leonard Fournette to establish a consistent ground game is the best thing the Colts can do to keep Andrew Luck healthy and upright. In the second round, the Colts upgrade at ILB with the versatile Haason Reddick, and then further add some spices to the pass rush cabinet with Derek Rivers and Vince Biegel at OLB. Jordan Sterns can compete with TJ Green at FS while Clayton Geathers movers over to the back up SS spot with Berry coming into the fold. Jeremy Cutrer is a small-school CB that covers like a corner and hits like a safety, adding to the Colts depth at CB. With their final pick, a punter selection to replace the astoundingly-retired Pat McAfee is possible, so keep an eye out on a player like Austin Rehkow. In this scenario, more depth at ILB is addressed with Marcus Oliver from the Colts' back yard.

 

 

 

 

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS

CAP ROOM (per Spotrac): $82,002,963

 

TEAM NEEDS: OG, SS, LCB, TE, LDE, QB, RB, FB

 

FREE AGENCY ADDITIONS

DE Jason Pierre-Paul

CB AJ Bouye

RG Kevin Zeitler

WR Victor Cruz

DT Abry Jones

OT Josh Wells

WR Arrelious Benn

 

The Jags have a ton of cap room and new EVP Tom Coughlin is going to try his damnedest to spend as much of it as he can to win (lunch) now. If Jason Pierre-Paul hits the open market, the Vegas odds will be high in the Jaguars favor of a JPP-Coughlin reunion in Duval County as the Jags defense potentially moves to a more traditional 4-3 alignment. Ex-Texans CB AJ Bouye is a graduate of UCF, good friends and workout partners with Jaguars CB Aaron Colvin, and pairing him opposite of Jalen Ramsey while also poaching a division rival is too sweet not to pursue aggressively. RG Kevin Zeitler allows AJ Cann to move back to LG, where he played his entire collegiate career at South Carolina. WR Victor Cruz is a player Coughlin has a fondness for from his time in New York and even as a depth guy, he adds a great veteran presence to a very young Jaguars WR room. The Jaguars have already announced re-signings of NT Abry Jones, OT Josh Wells and WR Arrelious Benn.

 

 

NFL DRAFT

RB Dalvin Cook

LG Forrest Lamp

CB Rasul Douglas

TE Michael Roberts

SS Paul Magloire Jr

QB Bradley Kaaya

DE Trey Hendrickson

FB Freddie Stevenson

 

The Jaguars have had some good luck pulling from Florida State, and if they were to go RB with their first pick, I would imagine the receiving and home-run ability of Cook would be the perfect compliment to the bruising Chris Ivory and take pressure of Blake Bortles as he enters a make-or-break season. With the Jaguars addressing RG in Free Agency, Western Kentucky OL Forrest Lamp, whom the Jaguars are rumored to "love," can compete with Cann to start at LG or fill in for Branden Albert at LT if the injury-prone veteran misses time. CB Rasul Douglas had a strong Senior Bowl, fits the physical makeup of CBs that the Jaguars covet, and had strong production in the INT department this season at West Virginia. TE Michael Roberts is one of the underrated guys in this draft class and his ability to block and be a force in the Red Zone may be an immediate upgrade over the departed Julius Thomas. Paul Magloire Jr is a SS/WLB 'tweener who will play a huge role in Special Teams as a rookie. Canes QB Brad Kaaya becomes a developmental guy with Brandon Allen in the event Bortles does not continue to improve in 2017 and is a good value in the 6th round. DE Trey Hendrickson provides depth behind rookie sensation Yannick Ngakoue and could have a role in Special Teams. FB Freddie Stevenson joins his college teammate Dalvin Cook and becomes the FB that Tom Coughlin and Nate Hackett crave in their offenses.

 

 

TENNESSEE TITANS

CAP ROOM (per Spotrac): $67,615,138

 

TEAM NEEDS: CB, X WR, FS/SS, RG, CB, Z WR, ILB, KR, QB2

 

FREE AGENCY ADDITIONS

FS Tony Jefferson

WR Kenny Stills

NCB Captain Munnerlyn

QB Blaine Gabbert

DT Karl Klug

 

GM Ryan Robinson had an outstanding rookie year pulling the reigns of the Titans roster, and he enters the 2017 offseason flush with cap space to address the skill positions, which are in dire need of an upgrade. Robinson pulled a Safety from Arizona in Rashad Johnson last year, and this year he does it again with a much more accomplished Tony Jefferson, who can play either FS or SS in the Titans' 3-4 defense. The Titans poached a WR from the Dolphins last year in Rishard Matthews who had a nice 2016 season, so they do the same in acquiring their speed Z WR in Kenny Stills who can be the deep threat Mariota hasn't had thus far. CB Captain Munnerlyn was one of the most effective Nickel CBs in the NFL last year per PFF and fills a need in the secondary. QB Blaine Gabbert is no stranger to the AFC South and has the athletic profile to fill in for Mariota in the event of an injury or a relapse in his ankle rehab. Karl Klug is the only player worth re-signing as Robinson continues to put his own fingerprint on the roster.

 

 

NFL DRAFT

SS Jamal Adams

CB Marlon Humphrey

Z WR/KR Carlos Henderson

NCB Cam Sutton

X WR Malachi Dupre

X WR Josh Malone

QB Sefo Liufau

 

The Titans need to add some talent and leadership to the secondary, and that basically sums up LSU SS Jamal Adams to pair with Tony Jefferson at safety. Marlon Humphrey gives them a physical #1 boundary CB who can match up with the likes of Allen Robinson, Nuk Hopkins and Donte Moncrief in the division. Carlos Henderson provides another option as the Z WR and at worst can become an elite Kick Returner as a rookie. Local product Cam Sutton will be a very good Nickel CB in the NFL and provide more depth to the worst position group on the roster. Next, the Titans go back to LSU and Tennessee to pluck physical X WRs Malachi Dupre and Josh Malone, totally transforming their WR corps. Lastly, the Titans select the poor-man's Mariota with Sefo Liufau as a developmental QB prospect.

 

 

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