Welcome to the most competitive division in the NFL! The AFC South may not have featured the ‘sexiest’ of draft hauls for each team but they all addressed needs and strengthened their rosters. From a fantasy perspective, the rookie pickings in the AFC South are slim and the incumbents honestly have little to worry about as far as losing their jobs.
The Jaguars started the 2018 season as a Super Bowl contender and had the wheels fall off as they stumbled to a 5-11 record and their defense was exposed. A turnaround in Jacksonville wouldn’t be hard to do as most of the faces stayed the same and they added a hopefully more competent quarterback in Nick Foles. The Texans won the division with an 11-5 record and the Colts made the playoffs with a 10-6 record. Both addressed needs and didn’t lose any keys pieces to free agency. Tennessee narrowly missed the playoffs at 9-7 and added in free agency as well as draft. They should be right in the mix as well.
The outlook for 2019 is strong for the South. All four teams in the division could win more than ten games if chips fall right. The divisional games will be more important than ever for this quartet.
Tytus Howard, OT Alabama State (ROUND 1, 23rd OVERALL)
Max Sharping, OL Northern Illinois (ROUND 2, 55th OVERALL)
The two most important draft picks for Houston addressed the offensive line which has plagued the team for the past few seasons. Howard and Sharping are raw prospects and both seemed like reaches but both have intangibles and traits and both could be important upgrades to protecting the most important asset in Houston – Deshaun Watson.
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Kahale Warring, TE San Diego State (ROUND 3, 86TH OVERALL)
Jordan Akins and Jordan Thomas were drafted in 2018 in the third and sixth rounds respectively, and Houston still drafted Warring in the third round this year as the need at tight end is still a pressing one. DeAndre Hopkins, Will Fuller, and Keke Coutee form a formidable pass-catching trio of wideouts but the latter two have had injury concerns and an underneath presence has been missing.
Warring is a freakish athlete with great feet and an ability to get open at all levels. At San Diego State, he caught 51 passes for 637 yards and eight scores in just under two seasons as a starter. The offense was run-heavy and Warring wasn’t asked to be a weapon but he stood out on film. He is raw with a lot of attributes to love. He is a tough blocker but his technique needs some work. He’s another former basketball player turned tight end – NFL announcers love to point that out and they will love him for sure!
Warring was nearly unknown in the pre-draft process. A really strong showing at the combine turned heads and caused many to do a double take, myself included, and watch game tape. He is a tight end to target later in drafts. He may take a season or two to really emerge but he is the most talented of the Texans tight ends.
Parris Campbell, WR Ohio State (ROUND 2, 59th OVERALL)
Chris Ballard is already one of the hottest names in NFL management and this draft will only intensify the heat. After they traded back and gathered more picks, then spent seven of the first eight on defense to pair with the lethal offense, the path to the AFC South has to go through Indianapolis.
They did address an offensive need by taking Campbell in the second round. He is scary fast and dangerous in the open field, his skill set is similar to TY Hilton’s and both together will create headaches. Campbell didn’t have a lot of college production until his senior season – he corralled 90 passes for 1.063 yards and 12 scores as Dwayne Haskins’ top receiver in Columbus. His speed and separation – as well as run after the catch ability – will make him a nightmare to cover and he should make an instant impact.
Campbell can be used in a swiss-army knife type of role. The Colts can move him all over and take advantage of his skill set. He should be targeted in your rookie drafts. He will be a valuable asset in this high-powered offense.
Josh Oliver, TE San Jose State (ROUND 3, 69th OVERALL)
Grabbing a pass-catching tight end in Oliver was one of my favorite picks for them. It fills a need and Nick Foles has favored tight ends in the past. There is a gaggle of less talented tight ends in his way but the path to him getting playing time early is there.
Oliver is a great pass-catching tight end and was essentially targeted like a wideout at San Jose State, his talent pops when watching him. He is a natural pass catcher, uses his hands well to catch, and creates separation easily. Oliver does need to work on blocking and release. The Jags will find a way to get him on the field early though.
Ryquell Armstead, RB Temple (ROUND 5, 140th OVERALL)
Drafting a running back was a need due to Leonard Fournette’s injury history and the roster consists of uninspiring backups Alfred Blue and Thomas Rawls. A lot of NFL experience in the duo is a plus but both haven’t been barnburners when given the opportunity to start.
Armstead has NFL size, runs with an aggressive and fearless demeanor and is a ton of fun to watch. He slides through holes with easy and is always churning forward. His vision and patience are weak points and a limited role with possibly more in the future is their best course of action with Armstead.
Gardner Minshew, QB Washington State (ROUND 6, 178th OVERALL)
Minshew is an excellent developmental quarterback with a possible NFL future, although likely better as a backup and spot starter. He has an average arm but is incredibly accurate and has great pocket presence. Minshew worked in a Mike Leach offense his senior year and posted crazy stats – his quick release and diagnosis of plays under Leach were impressive.
AJ Brown, WR Ole Miss (ROUND 2, 51st OVERALL)
The Titans focused on the defense primarily including the talented defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons, who fell in their laps at pick 19 of the first round. They did address one need by finding a receiver to play opposite Corey Davis after acquiring Adam Humphries in free agency to man the slot.
Brown fills the need perfectly to play the role opposite Davis. He is a talented receiver – he runs routes well and can exploit coverage on all levels of the field. He catches everything and is a phenomenal technician at this stage of his career. Brown sets up moves and varies speed within routes well, uses his hands well to break free in coverage, and is a good blocker to boot.
Brown was one of my favorites receivers in the draft and will be successful. But how successful depends on the coaching staff and Marcus Mariota. The Titans have featured a run-heavy attack and not given their young signal caller much a chance to push the ball through the air, which may limit Brown’s upside.
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