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2013 NFL Draft Preview: AFC South
By Matt Horkman

Houston Texans

Recent Selections: CB Brandon Harris, CB Kareem Jackson, LB Whitney Mercilus, LB Brooks Reed, RB Ben Tate, & DE J.J. Watt

Recap: Sometimes an organization finds one player that elevates their team and justifies their philosophy. For general manager Rick Smith, Watt is that player. He has 26 career sacks with 20.5 coming last year. The jury remains out on Mercilus and Reed, as expectations are high entering this season for both. It’s been inconsistent results at corner, where Jackson has provided stability but Harris has failed to live up to his second-round status.

Best Scenario: WR Robert Woods, LB Jon Bostic, LB Jon Simon, & OT David Quessenberry

Draft Preview: The Texans need to add more to their offensive arsenal, while also adding competition to their linebacker core. Woods is great fit for head coach Gary Kubiak’s offense. He’s excellent after the catch and is a natural pass-catcher. He’d compliment Andre Johnson well at wide receiver and potentially develop into a No. 1 himself. Bostic is a nice grab in round two. He’d pair nicely with Brian Cushing inside. He offers greater upside than Manti Te’o does, which is a popular projection for Houston in round one. Simon provides another option at outside linebacker and Quessenberry is a very good scheme fit at right tackle.

Indianapolis Colts

Recent Selections: LB Pat Angerer, OT Anthony Castonzo, TE Coby Fleener, DE Jerry Hughes, OT Ben Ijalana, QB Andrew Luck

Recap: It’s rare a team does a good job replacing a legendary quarterback. The 49ers did it with Steve Young replacing Joe Montana and Green Bay did it recently with Aaron Rodgers replacing Brett Favre. The Colts might be the third example 10 years from now with Luck replacing Peyton Manning. Luck played well last year, despite playing with a poor roster. In fact, the Colts don’t have much to show for their most recent drafts, which is why a regime change occurred in ‘12. The new front office was wise to grab Luck No. 1 overall. It may not seem like the best pick now, but I have no doubt he’ll develop into one of the league’s elite players.

Best Scenario: DT Jesse Williams, LB Chase Thomas, & RB Jonathan FranklinJesse Williams

Draft Preview: Despite making last year’s playoffs, Indy remains a team with many needs. They need to surround Luck with quality skill players, protect him, and replenish a defense in year two of a scheme transition. Williams and Thomas help with the latter. Williams can play defensive end or nose guard and is a dominate run defender, which Indy needs after ranking 29 in rush defense. Thomas doesn’t have flashy workout numbers, but he’s an ideal outside linebacker in head coach Chuck Pagano’s 3-4 defense. The Colts can definitely do better than Vick Ballard and Donald Brown in their backfield. Franklin’s a steal if he makes it out of round two. He’s outstanding in pass protection, catches the ball real well, and a real good runner.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Recent Selections: DT Tyson Alualu, WR Justin Blackmon, DE Andre Branch, & QB Blaine Gabbert

Recap: Three years ago, the Jaguars nearly crashed the internet when they chose Alualu at No. 10. For the most part, he’s been an average player and not worthy of his selection. Blackmon and Branch remain developmental players, though Blackmon does have gifted ability. The biggest bust on this list, though, is Gabbert. Scouts liked him coming out, but the former Missouri quarterback has a deer in the headlights look. He’s now on shaky ground with a new head coach and general manager.

Best Scenario: DE Ezekiel Ansah, QB E.J. Manuel, & LB Jon Bostic

Draft Preview: The Jaguars should forget about need. When you’re as bad as they are, just take the best player on your board regardless of position. At No. 2 overall, that’s either Ansah or Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd. In round two, they might be fortunate enough for Manuel to land in their laps. Under those circumstances, they could maybe take a chance on the signal caller, though I don’t think they have the roster to spend extra picks to move up for him. Bostic is an excellent pick, especially in round three. He’s a thumper capable of playing outside or inside linebacker in Gus Bradley’s defense.

Tennessee Titans

Recent Selections: LB Akeem Ayers, LB Zach Brown, QB Jake Locker, DE Derrick Morgan, & WR Kendall Wright

Recap: It’s a quarterback driven league and you’ll lose your job without one. Locker’s arm is impressive, but his accuracy issues continue to linger. He’s under tremendous pressure to play well this season. Tennessee has drafted well defensively, however. Morgan and Ayers are starters and beginning to develop into solid players. Brown also flashed ability as a rookie.

Best Scenario: DE Ezekiel Ansah, CB Jordan Poyer, OG Brian Winters, & S Shawn Williams

Draft Preview: With gifted size, speed, and strength, Ansah could develop into one of the premiere players in the league. The problem is his lack of experience and it may take him a full year before he begins to have an impact. Nonetheless, you don’t pass on his talent at No. 10. You’ll regret it, if you do. Poyer would be a nice addition in round two, as Cortland Finnegan’s replacement comes late. He actually models his game after the former Titan. I believe Winter is a solid second rounder, but he could fall to round three because of a combine injury, and the depth of the guard class. Finally, the Titans should add a safety to push the head-scratching Michael Griffin.

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