Now that the 2014 NFL draft is over, everyone is always quick to review and access who had the best or worst drafts. I’m not particularly a fan of grading drafts until it has been two or three years later, but today I will be accessing how the teams in the AFC South Division drafted. I will be judging these teams on how they filled their needs, the type of impact players they drafted, and if it is a player that can help them immediately as well as in the future. Let us start off with who I think, let’s just call it, had the least impactful draft.
Not only did the Colts have only 5 picks this year, they also didn’t have a 1st round or a 4th round pick. It really limited them in terms of what they could do, but they only have themselves to blame as they gave up their 1st round pick to obtain Trent Richardson from the Cleveland Browns. The Colts did not fill their needs of getting another OLB that could challenge to start on the opposite side of Robert Mathis and they didn’t get any secondary help at all, which they definitely needed, as shown in the playoffs when Alex Smith sliced through their defense. They did get some offensive line help in Jack Mewhort and they got depth at WR in Donte Moncrief, but that was about it for them. It’s possible that none of them could end up having a significant impact on the team.
The Titans didn’t have a bad draft, but other than RB Bishop Sankey, they also didn’t get anyone that you could say would definitely make an impact this year. Their 1st round pick, OT Taylor Lewan, is currently stuck behind Michael Roos and an overpaid Michael Oher. They did not have a 3rd round pick because they traded it away the previous year to move up and draft WR Justin Hunter. They did have two 4th round picks, FS/CB Marqueston Huff and NT DaQuan Jones, but Huff will be a reserve in the secondary and Jones, though I like him, has been inconsistent in his college career. The late pick of QB Zach Mettenberger was a flyer on a talented player with off the field problems, but he’s hardly someone to hang your hat on. Their draft has upside, but a high bust potential also.
The Jaguars were very close to be putting them as the best draft in the division. They pretty much completely drafted a future offense from 2015 on. I thought QB Blake Bortles was the best QB in this year’s draft and Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson both are talented WRs with late 1st, early 2nd round potential. You add those 2 with Cecil Shorts and you don’t even have to include Justin Blackmon in anymore conversations. Telvin Smith has good talent but need to get stronger and even RB Storm Johnson could end up being the immediate backup by the season opener. Brandon Linder and Luke Bowanko both add depth on the offensive line. All in all, they had a top 5 draft of all teams, but only 2nd in the division.
The Texans got three players in the 1st three rounds that could make an impact from day one. I don’t even have to mention DE/OLB Jadeveon Clowney who will team with JJ Watt to make a tag team like what Aldon Smith and Justin Smith do for the 49ers. Xavier Su’a-Filo will automatically upgrade the inside of their offensive line and getting a 1st round talent like Louis Nix III in the 3rd may have been 1 of the steals of the entire draft. Add those guys to the fact that they got a good blocking TE in CJ Fiedorowicz and talented 3-4 DE in Jeoffrey Pagan, a 3rd down back in Alfred Blue, and a possible starting QB in Tom Savage, there is nothing I see that Houston could have done better. They have positioned themselves that if they get even just average play from their QB position, they will be a legitimate Superbowl contender. Arguably the best draft of anyone in the league.
As I said at the start of this piece, it’s very hard to truly judge a draft inside of 3 years to really see who are the busts, sleepers, and other factors that have to be included into judging a draft. I’m pretty sure not too many people were hyping the drafts that the Pats had with Tom Brady or the Broncos had with Terrell Davis when they were both 6th round picks in their respective years. In 3 years, Jack Mewhort could be an all pro guard, or Marqueston Huff could lead the league in INTs, or Blake Bortles could pull a Ryan Leaf, or even Jadeveon Clowney could get hurt and never fulfill his potential. That, my friends, is why they play the game.
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