2020 NFL Draft Aftermath: Winners and Losers from the AFC South

Bruce Matson

The NFL Draft can be a game-changer for many veterans in the league. Quarterbacks can receive a boost by getting extra weapons to work with while also getting a few road-grading linemen to keep their blindside safe. No matter how good they are, wide receivers and running backs will see competition throughout their career. Knowing the potential impact of each player draft will provide an advantage on how to we should evaluate our own dynasty rosters.

Just like every other division in the NFL, the AFC South is a revolving storyline. Every team wants to fill the holes in their roster and of course, a lot of general managers are looking for a new toy to deploy in their offense.

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

Round 2 – Pick 2 (34): Michael Pittman, WR USC

Round 2 – Pick 9 (41): Jonathan Taylor, RB Wisconsin

Round 3 – Pick 21 (85): Julian Blackmon, S Utah

Round 4 – Pick 16 (122): Jacob Eason, QB Washington

Round 5 – Pick 3 (149): Danny Pinter, G Ball State

Round 6 – Pick 14 (193): Rob Windsor, DT Penn State

Round 6 – Pick 32 (211): Isaiah Rodgers, DB Massachusetts

Round 6 – Pick 33 (212): Dezmon Patmon, WR Washington State

Round 6 – Pick 34 (213): Jordan Glasgow, LB Michigan

WINNER – Philip Rivers, QB

Rivers is 38 years and is on the last leg of his career. The Colts were smart to load him up with as much young talent as possible through the draft. Michael Pittman will be a solid X-receiver once he gets established. TY Hilton isn’t getting any younger and we are still waiting on Parris Campbell to break out. Pittman’s size and ability to covert tough contested catches will help Rivers push the ball downfield.

Rivers will rely on Jonathan Taylor to handle the rock to keep the chains moving. The Colts are planning to relive some of the stress off of Rivers by bolstering their run game. Having an elite-level running back prospect could easily smooth out some of the inefficiencies of the offense. Taylor’s long speed will also create another dynamic to the offense due to his ability to score from anywhere on the football field.

LOSER – Marlon Mack, RB

Taylor is easily one of the best running backs in the class. He posted back to back 2,000-yard seasons. His athletic profile is just as impressive. At the combine, he measured in at 5-foot-10 and weighed 226 pounds while running a 4.39-second 40-yard dash. Taylor will initially start his career as one of the fastest running backs in the league. Once he gets going he will make things a lot easier for Rivers.

Mack is the obvious loser from the draft. His dynasty value immediately dropped once the Colts drafted Taylor who is an all-world prospect. Injuries have stunted his career and made him unreliable. Mack surpassed the 1,000-yard mark for the first time in his career last year and was a breakout candidate before the draft. Indianapolis couldn’t pass up on Taylor’s talent when they made the pick.

This was a deadly blow to Mack’s dynasty owners, considering he was in line to be the team’s workhorse out of the backfield. His touch share is hard to project. He might see more usage in the passing game or get used intermediately with Taylor. This is a major threat to his overall production. Taylor is going to at least chip away at Mack’s workload, if not steal the starting the job right out of the gate.

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS

Round 1 – Pick 9: CJ Henderson, CB Florida

Round 1 – Pick 20: K’Lavon Chaisson, EDGE LSU

Round 2 – Pick 10 (42): Laviska Shenault Jr., WR Colorado

Round 3 – Pick 9 (73): DaVon Hamilton, DT Ohio State

Round 4 – Pick 10 (116): Ben Bartch, T St. Johns (Minn.)

Round 4 – Pick 31 (137): Josiah Scott, CB Michigan State

Round 4 – Pick 34 (140): Shaquille Quarterman, LB Miami

Round 5 – Pick 12 (157): Daniel Thomas, S Auburn

Round 5 – Pick 29 (165): Collin Johnson, WR Texas

Round 6 – Pick 10 (189): Jake Luton, QB Oregon State

Round 6 – Pick 27 (206): Tyler Davis, TE Georgia Tech

Round 7 – Pick 9 (223): Chris Claybrooks, CB Memphis

WINNER – Gardner Minshew, QB

The Jaguars stayed away from drafting a quarterback with their top picks, making Minshew officially ‘their guy’ going into the 2020 season. They also managed to draft two talented pass catchers. Laviska Shenault is a multifaceted athlete. We should see him inserted in the offense as early as his rookie season. Collin Johnson is a big wide receiver who exercises good body control when making plays downfield. He will compete for a spot on the backend of the roster.

Jacksonville’s draft told us they are all in on Minshew and even though they want to build the defensive side of the ball, they are more than willing to set aside some draft picks to get the pieces in the place to optimize his development. If he continues to play well this year, we should continue to see them add talent to the offense to give the team an added boost.

LOSER – Dede Westbrook, WR

Westbrook will eventually have to compete with Shenault for snaps out of the slot where he ran 83.5 percent of his snaps last year. Shenault profiles as a big slot receiver who can also handle carries out of the backfield as a wildcat option. 2019 was almost a lost season for Westbrook. He played second fiddle to DJ Chark and only caught 66 passes for 660 yards and three touchdowns.

Added competition is never good. Westbrook should command the slot role this year, but he’s in jeopardy of losing his job in the near future. He will need to exceed expectations if he wants to remain as one of the team’s top options in the passing game.

TENNESSEE TITANS

Round 1 – Pick 29: Isaiah Wilson, T Georgia

Round 2 – Pick 29 (61): Kristian Fulton, CB LSU

Round 3 – Pick 29 (93): Darrynton Evans, RB Appalachian State

Round 5 – Pick 29 (174): Larrell Murchison, DT North Carolina State

Round 7 – Pick 10 (224): Cole McDonald, QB Hawaii

Round 7 – Pick 29 (243): Chris Jackson, DB Marshall

WINNER – AJ Brown, WR

This draft was deep with wide receiver talent and there were multiple players who could’ve been deemed a threat to Brown’s long-term player value. He will be rolling into the 2020 season as a key piece to Tennessee’s offense.

Whether you believe it or not, Brown has the potential to develop into a top-ten dynasty talent. By not having to compete for targets in a low volume passing offense that relies on Derrick Henry to carry a large portion of the load, Brown will get the opportunity to prove he’s an elite-level talent.

LOSER – Derrick Henry, RB

Henry isn’t really a loser. Darrynton Evans isn’t a true threat to steal touches from him. However, the draft pick might be an indication the team is getting their ducks in a row, just in case they need to move on from Henry next off-season.

He will be 27-years old next year and is set to hit free agency in 2021. If he doesn’t replicate what he did last season, then the Titans might be pivoting to a cheaper option at running back. On top of having Evans as an option to spell Henry when needed, he is also an insurance policy just in case they need to make a change at running back.

HOUSTON TEXANS

Round 2 – Pick 8 (40): Ross Blacklock, DT Texas Christian

Round 3 – Pick 26 (90): Jonathan Greenard, EDGE Florida

Round 4 – Pick 20 (126): Charlie Heck, T North Carolina

Round 4 – Pick 35 (141): John Reid, CB Penn State

Round 5 – Pick 26 (171): Isaiah Coulter, WR Rhode Island

WINNER – David Johnson, RB

There really isn’t a true winner on this team. Bill O’Brien has done a good job of creating the cast of Misfit Toys in Houston. David Johnson lucked out since the team didn’t draft his future replacement in the second or third round of the draft. He’s an older running back who has experienced a few setbacks from injuries and I wouldn’t put it past the team to insure themselves just in case the injury bug decided to bite Johnson again.

Houston paid the ultimate price to get Johnson on their roster. They plan to use him. We could see him receive a heavy workload. This could be really good or really bad, but it’s hard to look away from a car wreck on the freeway. Johnson did display elite athleticism at the position during the early stages of his career. Injuries have slowed him down, but he still has the potential to rebound if he remains healthy. The fact that he doesn’t have to look over his shoulder at a young hungry running back prospect is a good thing for his short-term dynasty value.

LOSER – Deshaun Watson, QB

Watson should be about to set his hair on fire after losing DeAndre Hopkins for a bag of chips this off-season. The Texans did nothing to remedy their failing in the draft. Sure, they spend a fifth-round pick on Isaiah Coulter, but that’s a far cry from the loss of Hopkins. He’s more of a developmental prospect who will compete to be a role player in the offense and hopefully move up the ranks from there.

Due to all the failed trades, the Texans didn’t have many draft picks to work with. It was hard for them to add any substance to the team with only two picks in the top 100. The odds of them adding a young wide receiver to grow with Watson were slim to begin with. Even with them signing Brandin Cooks and Randall Cobb, the team could’ve used a young wide receiver with some promise, but that didn’t happen.

Coulter has some good tape. He has good ball skills and is fun to watch. The FCS star will need to transition to the next level and compete for snaps to become a long-term asset to the team. Watson needs a wide receiver prospect with more promise for him to feel the organization has his best interest in mind. He’s set to hit free agency in 2022 and could potentially hit the open market if the team doesn’t make things right soon.

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