NFL Draft Grades: AFC South

The AFC South is a very interesting division to watch each and every year. It possesses maybe the two best young players in the league in Indy’s Andrew Luck and Houston’s JJ Watt. However, the Division has lacked parity in recent history. Since 2009 only the Colts or Texans have won the division, and only the Titans have been able to win the division since 2003, and they only won in 2008. With the Jags and Titans at the top of the draft, the hope is that they’re able to bridge this gap a bit in the near future. That starts in the draft.


Houston Texans: 9-7 in 2015, 16th Overall

Round 1 Pick 16                 Kevin Johnson                   CB           Wake Forest

In a division that has Andrew Luck and Blake Bortles, and recently just added Marcus Mariota, you can’t have enough help in the secondary. Kevin Johnson is slight, at under 190 pounds, but he plays very physically and with a mean streak. He has great cover skills, and should immediately step in and be the Day 1 starter either on the outside or in the slot. I know many teams had Johnson as their top Corner in this class, so the mini run of Corners prompted Houston to pull the trigger when they had the opportunity. This is a nice value for Johnson. Grade: A-

Round 2 Pick 43                 Benardrick McKinney     LB           Mississippi State

The Texans Linebackers just got bigger. McKinney is 6’4″ and around 250 pounds, and can run sideline to sideline chasing ball carriers. McKinney’s flaw, and probably the reason he didn’t get taken in the 1st round, is he’s still learning to cover receivers. He has the athletic ability to do so, but will have to continue to develop in that area. He’s a good blitzer and should make a scary pairing with Brian Cushing on early downs. This was a nice pick. Grade: B+

Round 3 Pick 70                 Jaelen Strong                     WR         Arizona State

This is probably my favorite pick that Houston made, as Strong was seen by many as a mid-1st round pick, so to get him early in the 3rd round is a huge value. Strong can struggle to separate at times, but his size and athleticism help him win at the catch point. At the very least, he can be a nice red zone threat. Strong ran a little faster than he plays, but this was a really nice pick. Grade: A

Round 5 Pick 175              Keith Mumphery             WR         Michigan State 

This is more Wide Receiver depth for a team with Quarterback issues. The Texans have never found their Franchise Quarterback since David Carr flopped as the team’s 1st ever draft pick (Not that he ever had much of a chance). They signed Brian Hoyer this offseason, so he’ll compete with Ryan Mallett. Mumphery was a nice player in college, but was often overshadowed by his teammate Tony Lippett. This was the right range for Mumphery. Grade: C+

Round 6 Pick 211              Reshard Cliett                    LB           South Florida

To be completely honest I hadn’t heard of Cliett throughout the pre-draft process. Cliett is an athletic Outside Linebacker who will likely play inside in Houston’s 3-4 scheme. With all of the health issues in their Front 7, this pick makes sense. This might be a little high for him, but in the 6th? I’m fine with it. Grade: C

Round 6 Pick 216              Christian Covington         DL           Rice

Covington is a local product who played well at Rice, when healthy. No opponent blocked Covington as effectively as his own body. The Texans are hoping that he can stay healthy and add some depth to their Defensive Line. He’ll play 5 Technique in their defensive front. Grade: B-

Round 7 Pick 235              Kenny Hilliard                    RB           LSU

Hilliard is an interesting player. He’s a big Runningback who displayed talent often in college, however LSU has developed the pattern of having three or four NFL backs on their roster, so none of them are really featured. Hilliard played well when given the opportunity this season, and I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see him make the roster. Grade: B

Overall Grade: B. I liked the top of this class a lot better than the bottom of it, but the Texans added a nice haul to their roster. Johnson and McKinney will be Day 1 starters, and Strong will likely see early playing time. If a couple of the late rounders can make an impact, this was a very successful class.


Indianapolis Colts: 11-5 in 2015, 29th Overall

Round 1 Pick 28                 Phillip Dorsett                    WR         Miami (FL)

This pick surprised me a bit. Phillip Dorsett is one of the fastest players in this entire draft, and will be one of the fastest players in the league. However, the Colts had major needs at Offensive Line as well as all over their Defense. Dorsett adds a definite speed dimension to the Colts’ offense, and will be an immediate deep threat to pair with TY Hilton. Maybe this is insurance if they aren’t able to retain Hilton in Free Agency, but I think they could have added more to their team with this pick. Grade: C

Round 3 Pick 65                 D’Joun Smith                     CB           Florida Atlantic

This was a much better value for the Colts. They traded back out of the 2nd, and still got their guy. Smith is a very underrated prospect because he went to Florida Atlantic, but all you have to do is watch his game from against Auburn this past season to see that this kid is a special talent. Smith should instantly be the Colts’ slot Corner and could definitely start in a couple year. Much better with this pick. Grade: B+

Round 3 Pick 93                 Henry Anderson               DL           Stanford

Another home run for the Colts in the 3rd round. There was talk that Anderson could potentially sneak up in the end of the 1st round at one point, so getting him at the back end of the 3rd is huge. Anderson fits the Colts’ 3-4 scheme very well and can start immediately. Some scouts were knocking him for his physique, but Anderson could be the Colts’ best defender in two years. Grade: A

Round 4 Pick 109              Clayton Geathers             S              Central Florida

This was another nice pick by Indy. Geathers was pretty underrated throughout the process. He’s a big Safety at around 220 pounds, and that can’t hurt for a defense that is pretty soft. I wouldn’t be surprised if Geathers starts seeing playing time in a year or two. Grade: B

Round 5 Pick 151              David Parry                         DL           Stanford

David Parry will never be as good of a pro player as he was at Stanford, and that’s okay. He’ll likely be a backup Nose Tackle and thrive in that role. He’s short, stocky, and has short arms, but he finds ways to make plays, and I expect him to be in the league for five to ten years. This was the right spot for Parry. Grade: C+

Round 6 Pick 205              Josh Robinson                   RB           Mississippi State

Josh Robinson shouldn’t have left school early. He simply got lost in the shuffle of the crazy depth of this draft class. That being said, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him as the Colts’ starter in a year or two. He’s a bowling ball with a low center of gravity that makes him tough to tackle. He’s a thick runner that runs with power and breaks tackles. He lacks wiggle, but that’s not his game. Robinson was a very nice value here. Grade: B+

Round 6 Pick 207              Amarlo Herrera                 LB           Georgia

More defensive help. Most importantly, more big hitters. Herrera was a good player in Georgia’s 3-4 defensive over the past couple years. He struggles in coverage, so he’ll likely be limited to a 2 down Linebacker, but Herrera is a tone setter player. This is a nice value in the 6th round, and Herrera will be a Special Team demon. Grade: B

Round 7 Pick 255              Denzell Goode                  OT          Mars Hill

I’m sure you’re thinking the same thing that I was when I saw this pick go by on the ESPN ticker during Day 3 of the draft, “What is a Mars Hill?” Upon further research, Denzell Goode formerly played at North Carolina State, and he could be either a Tackle or Guard in the NFL. I don’t think he should have been drafted, but with the second to last pick, it’s worth a shot. Grade: C

Overall Grade: C+. The Colts had a real opportunity to distance themselves from the pack in the South, but had a couple questionable picks. They added talent to their roster, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t think that they needed a Wide Receiver in the 1st round. Ryan Grigson has made some questionable moves in the past couple of years, and it’ll be interesting to see how this season goes.


Jacksonville Jaguars: 3-13 in 2015, 3rd Overall

Round 1 Pick 3                   Dante Fowler Jr.               LB           Florida

This pick was either going to be Dante Fowler or Vic Beasley, and while I would have preferred the latter, Fowler is no slouch either. Now as we know now, he tore his ACL within the 1st hour of his first NFL practice, so the jury is still out. I know a few people on Twitter that I respect and listen to were a bit frustrated with this pick, because Beasley presents a much higher ceiling without sacrificing much floor. However, Fowler is who Gus Bradley and David Cadwell wanted, so we’ll have to see how Fowler’s rehab goes. Grade: B+

Round 2 Pick 36                 T.J. Yeldon                          RB           Alabama

I guess I didn’t understand the Yeldon hate this offseason. Everyone loved him when he would spell Eddie Lacy as a true Freshman, but as a Junior many had jumped off of the bandwagon. Yeldon does have some fumbling issues, but Yeldon was a workhorse for the Crimson Tide, and will be a settling influence for this offense, especially after Toby Gerhart didn’t workout as a signing and Denard Robinson is not the answer. This was a nice value. Grade: B+

Round 3 Pick 67                 A.J. Cann                             OG         South Carolina

I really liked this pick. Jacksonville is making a definite emphasis on running the ball, so they signed Jeremy Parnell in Free Agency, and just drafted T.J. Yeldon. A.J. Cann was considered by many to be one of the best Guards in this class, so getting him in the 3rd is a nice value. Cann will help instill the toughness Jacksonville is looking to create. Grade: A

Round 4 Pick 104              James Sample                   S              Louisville

Another pick I was a fan of. James Sample was very much overlooked at Louisville due to Gerod Holliman, but Sample is the better overall Safety. He hits like a truck, again with the toughness they’re looking for, as well as possesses some decent coverage skills. Jacksonville likes for their Safeties to be interchangable, without a true “Free and Strong” Safety, and Sample could play both if needed. Nice value here. Grade: B+

Round 5 Pick 139              Rashad Greene                 WR         Florida State

This pick amazed me. If you’d have watched a Florida State game the past two seasons, you’d think that Greene was a 1st or 2nd round talent. He’s an incredible route runner, and has a great feel for the position. He’s fast enough, but doesn’t have the elite straight line speed you need in the NFL. He’ll be a slot Wide Receiver, and a very good one. This could end up being one of the steals of this draft. Grade: A

Round 6 Pick 180              Michael Bennett              DL           Ohio State

Another no-brainer for the Jags. I had Michael Bennett mocked #32 to the Patriots at the end of the 1st Round, and I honestly have no idea how he fell to the 6th round. He’s a 2nd round talent and was my top 3 Technique in this class. The Jaguars struck gold here. Unbelievable value. He’ll be a starter in two years. Grade: A

Round 7 Pick 220              Neal Sterling                      WR         Monmouth

Neal Sterling probably shouldn’t have been drafted, but if Jacksonville didn’t think they’d be able to sign him as an undrafted Free Agent, this makes sense. Sterling could play in a Delanie Walker role for the Jags, as he’s too small to be a Tight End, but too slow to be a true Wide Receiver. He’ll be a move Tight End. Grade: C

Round 7 Pick 229              Ben Koyack                         TE           Notre Dame    

This was an awesome pick. Ben Koyack was one of the best Tight Ends in this class, and to get him in the 7th round is incredible. He’s got some nice size, and will be able to develop behind Julius Thomas and Marcedes Lewis. This was one of the better picks in the 7th round. Grade: B+

Overall Grade: A. The Jaguars had probably the best draft in the league in my opinion. At least before the injury, they added their Starting LEO, Runningback, probably a starting Guard, and potentially a Starting slot Wide Receiver and Defensive Tackle. They had excellent value at nearly every selection. The Jaguars are headed in the right direction.


Tennessee Titans: 2-14 in 2015, 2nd Overall

Round 1 Pick 2                   Marcus Mariota              QB          Oregon

I was very mixed about this pick. First, we had heard on Twitter that the Titans had been offered a trade by Philadelphia that included multiple picks and multiple players including Fletcher Cox, but reportedly turned it down. If this is true, I don’t agree with that decision. However, they selected Marcus Mariota, which I was somewhat up and down on. First of all, he’s an incredible talent. He possesses all the intangibles that you’d want as a Franchise Quarterback. The downside is that he’ll face a pretty significant learning curve, and Ken Whisenhunt’s track record as a developer of Quarterbacks is pretty sketchy. This pick is the true boom or bust pick. Grade: B

Round 2 Pick 40                 Dorial Green-Beckham  WR         Missouri

This pick was a very interesting selection, but makes a lot of sense. Dorial Green-Beckham would have been a 1st round pick if not for his off-the-field concerns. This pick will do a couple of things. 1, it adds some much needed explosive talent for Mariota to work with. 2, it gives DGB a good environment to succeed. Maybe pair him with Mariota, and let Mariota’s leadership wear off on Green-Beckham and allow talent to shine through. Grade: A

Round 3 Pick 66                 Jeremiah Poutasi             OG         Utah 

As I mentioned in Tampa Bay’s draft grades, the common M.O. when drafting a Quarterback in the 1st round, is to give him protection and a weapon. This is the protection for Mariota. Poutasi was a three year starter at Utah, and is a large man. He’ll likely be moved to Guard in the NFL, but could play Left Tackle if needed. This is a nice pick, and should help keep Mariota off of the ground. Grade: B+

Round 4 Pick 100              DeAngelo Blackson         DL           Auburn

The first pick of the 4th round wasn’t expected to be DeAngelo Blackson, but I understand why they made this pick. He’s a big dude at 6’4″ 318 pounds, and can play at all three spots in Dick LeBeau/Ray Horton’s 3-4 defense. The more versatile pieces you can get up front, the more you can worry about the Back 7 of the defense. Grade: C+

Round 4 Pick 108              Jalston Fowler                   FB           Alabama

As an Offensive Lineman, I love this pick. Jalston Fowler was by far the best Fullback in this draft. He’s comparable to me to Vonta Leach, except he offers some in the passing game, something that Leach often did not. He’s a great lead blocker, and will help in pass pro for Mariota. He’s a tough guy, and will help build that culture in Tennessee. Grade: A

Round 5 Pick 138              David Cobb                         RB          Minnesota

This is another nice value pick for the Titans. David Cobb was a very productive runner at Minnesota. He’s a big back who runs with a smooth style. He’s not as punishing as his size might imply, but he’s a very nice runner who was pushed down by the depth of this draft class. He’s a nice receiver out of the backfield and can pass protect. This was a nice pick that will again, help Mariota. Grade: B+

Round 6 Pick 177              Deiontrez Mount             LB           Louisville

Aside from being on my All-Name Team, Mount was an interesting prospect for me. He didn’t get the attention that his teammate Lorenzo Mauldin did, but Mount was a productive rusher in Louisville’s defense, and they also played him off the ball. This versatility will help him in Tennessee. I like this pick as a Special Team player and as a depth guy, who can rush in sub packages. Grade: B+

Round 7 Pick 245              Tre McBride                       WR         William & Mary

It really amazed me that Tre McBride was available this late in the draft. He was a mid round talent for me, but definitely should have been picked before this. This is another weapon for Mariota to use, and will be a solid receiver for Tennessee. I like this pick a lot. Picks like this are why teams like the Titans turn things around. Grade: A

Overall Grade: A-. I think that this is one of the best drafts in the league as well. They got good value at every pick, and most importantly put pieces into place to help their major investment, Marcus Mariota. The Titans won’t win a ton of games next season, but they’ll be in position to really start getting better in a year or two.

Written by 

Adams-Friendship Green Devil and Carroll University Pioneer for life. Aspiring to be great. @RieseDraft

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