2019 NFL Draft Aftermath: Winners and Losers from the AFC South

Dwight Peebles

Continuing our analysis of the top winners and losers from each division post NFL draft, today we’re going to take a deep dive into the AFC South. Things are getting down and dirty in the South. Any team could win the division and win ten or more games – conversely, any team can take a tumble as the Jaguars did in 2018.

Which veterans saw their situations improve from the NFL Draft to potentially move into/stay in this group? Which players saw their potential value this season take a hit? Let’s get to it.


Deshaun Watson, QB HOU

Protecting the franchise quarterback was a priority and using the first two picks on offensive lineman is a great start. Tytus Howard from Alabama State and Max Sharping from Northern Illinois are two raw, mauling, huge offensive linemen who will get a chance to start early. Both have potential but may need some time to develop – potentially making Watson not as big of a winner as initially thought with these two picks. Either way, the organization knows it will only go as far as their talented gunslinger will take them and addressing the line early was the way to go.

They also added Kahale Warring, a tight end with immense potential from San Diego State, to give Watson another potential short target. Keke Coutee and Warring will help keep defenses honest underneath so Will Fuller and DeAndre Hopkins can stretch the field.

Lamar Miller, RB, HOU

As Miller enters his eighth season in the NFL at the age of 28, the feelings of the end approaching for him will continue to abound. And he keeps producing – eclipsing 1,100 total yards and six scores in 2018.

The depth chart after the draft behind Miller is D’Onta Foreman, late draft pick Cullen Gillaspia, UDFAs Karan Higdon and Damarea Crockett, as well as Josh Ferguson – not exactly a scary bunch to compete with Miller. Foreman looked good his rookie season before the injury and will likely have the first crack after he is fully healthy. Miller is a complete back who can catch passes, block, and is a solid runner – he will never win the Sexiest RB of the Year award and he consistently produces. It’s his job to lose and the draft did not change the outlook.

Andrew Luck, QB IND

The 2018 Draft produced two linemen to protect Luck and the 2019 Draft strengthened the defense which will keep games more competitive, hence not forcing their quarterback to win games by throwing 60 times. Luck has always thrown the ball a ton and he is extremely good at it but the Colts are far better off if he doesn’t have to throw as much.

They don’t have quite the team to challenge and win 40-point shoutouts every week – their receiving corps got a huge weapon in Parris Campbell at the draft but the decline after him and TY Hilton is a big drop. Marlon Mack is a talented young back but still fairly unproven as well. The defense is forming into one of the best in the game – Darius Leonard will get help from several drafted including Rock Ya-Sin, Bobby Okereke, and Khari Willis. The defense will help limit the shootouts and thus causing the offense to not have to rely so much on Luck’s right arm.

Nick Foles, QB JAC

The journeyman quarterback will not be required to win games on his own. Foles received more help and the defense in Jacksonville will never ask him to be the man who carries a team on his back to victory on a regular basis. The Jags had Jawaan Taylor fall to them in the second round to help protect Foles and then selected pass-catching tight end Josh Oliver in the third.

The biggest help comes in the form of outside linebacker Josh Allen – he’s a chess piece which will allow the ferocious defense to get after opposing quarterbacks even more than before. The Jags did select Gardner Minshew, a project quarterback, in the sixth round but this job is all Foles and he is being put in a good situation to succeed.

Derrick Henry, RB TEN

Tennessee addressed the defense mostly, using four of their six selections on defense, and added AJ Brown to help the pass-catching corps. Henry came on strong last year – averaging 146 yards and two scores over the past four games – and the team took strides to be balanced and not allow opposing defenses to key in on the run.

Dion Lewis will spell Henry but the job is his and he will see a bulk of the carries entering his age-25 season. Brown, as well as free agent signee Adam Humphries, should give Marcus Mariota options in the passing attack which previously had mainly only Corey Davis. The offensive balance is great for Henry, I believe this is the season he challenges for an RB1 spot in your drafts.


Leonard Fournette, RB JAX

The backfield is Fournette’s to lose but it’s tough to escape the feeling his days in Jacksonville are numbered. He signed a four-year contract as the number four overall pick in 2017 but has missed a litany of games and had an in-game incident this past year that voided some of his money as well. Fournette rushed for over 1,000 yards as a rookie but only at a 3.9 yard per carry clip and missed more than half of 2018 – in which management accused him of being lazy in rehab and gaining weight.

The Jags didn’t address running back early in the draft, drafting Temple’s Ryquell Armstead in the fifth round. They did, however, sign Alfred Blue and Thomas Rawls – two backs with experience who could step in if needed. Fournette needs to have a mostly healthy season and establish himself as the back they drafted or else he will not be a Jacksonville Jaguar anymore.

TY Hilton, WR IND

This placement on the list is not an indictment suggesting Hilton will have a bad season, it is simply saying the insane target number he has been getting should be declining. He is one of the most productive receivers in the game and I don’t expect him to fall off a ton – he gathered in 76 passes for 1,270 yards and six touchdowns on 120 targets in 2018. However, drafting a wide receiver with a similar skillset to Hilton in Parris Campbell, along with a healthy Jack Doyle, will make it difficult to maintain the target count.

The Colts are building a defensive team as well – as stated above – and Hilton will not see the same target share going forward. He has been able to maintain health – only missing three games the past six seasons – yet you can still see the wear and tear on his 5’10” 180-pound frame. Hilton will still be productive, but maintaining his pace will be very difficult to keep up.

Corey Davis, WR TEN

An immensely talented wide receiver who hasn’t lived up to expectations, the clock is ticking for Davis to be ‘the man’ in the Music City. The offense hasn’t proven capable of sustaining a true WR1, although he was targeted 112 times as he stayed healthy for his sophomore season. Those targets only manifested into 65 grabs for 891 yards and four touchdowns. That is not anywhere what you would expect for elite talent, a talent drafted in the first round of the 2017 draft. Brown and Humphries are possession receivers which will demand Mariota’s attention, and if Davis doesn’t assert himself the targets will decline.

dwight peebles
Latest posts by Dwight Peebles (see all)