AFC Draft Grades: Texans, Colts, Jaguars, Titans

By The Sports Xchange  |  Updated May 2, 2016 at 4:59 PM
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Grading an NFL Draft immediately after it occurs is akin to giving your compliments to the chef based on the menu. It will take at least three years before we can truly assess how the 32 NFL teams fared this weekend. But waiting is no fun. As such, let's take a take at which teams appear to have done the best job of filling needs and building for the future via the seven rounds of the 2016 NFL draft.

AFC South

Jacksonville Jaguars

Florida State cornerback Jalen Ramsey holds his jersey after being selected by the Jacksonville Jaguars with the fifth overall pick. Photo by Brian Kersey/UPI
For the third consecutive year, the Jaguars were able to remain in-state and nab a future star with Jalen Ramsey, who is an ideal fit as a press corner in head coach Gus Bradley's scheme. The Jaguars look ready to pounce in 2016 with Ramsey being reinforced with stellar outside linebacker Myles Jack, who the Jaguars investigated thoroughly before the draft and traded up in the second round after the UCLA's product's dramatic fall. Add in classic LEO defensive ends Yannick Ngakoue and Tyrone Holmes and three-technique defensive tackle Sheldon Day and the Jaguars once again are big winners ... at least in April. If Jack proves healthy, this is the kind of draft that could push Jacksonville into the playoffs.

Grade: A-

Tennessee Titans

Michigan State OT Jack Conklin holds his jersey after being selected by the Titans with the eighth overall pick. Photo by Brian Kersey/UPI
Taking the same approach he learned while with the New England Patriots -- acquiring picks and taking tough, reliable players -- new Titans general manager Jon Robinson moved down and nabbed the perfect blue collar tackle in Jack Conklin to help protect the investment made a year ago in Marcus Mariota as well as key offseason acquisition DeMarco Murray. He then supplemented Murray with the addition of Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry. At first glance, this seems an odd selection for the Titans, but given the durability concerns with Murray and the fact that the other backs on the roster were brought in by the previous regime, don't be surprised if Henry winds up getting significant playing time as the Titans take a "Thunder and Lightning" similar to what the Patriots have done. Similarly, day two defensive linemen Kevin Dodd and Austin Johnson will contribute immediately and are future starters. Of Tennessee's day three picks, surprisingly polished wideout Tajae Sharpe (Massachusetts) and powerful guard Sebastian Tretola seem to be in the best position to help.

Grade: B

Houston Texans

Given the big investments in Brock Osweiler and Lamar Miller, as well as the extraordinary body control of No. 1 receiver DeAndre Hopkins, first-round pick Will Fuller should prove the perfect vertical threat complement. Houston only reinforced their splashy offseason with the selection of steady interior offensive lineman Nick Martin in the second round, silky smooth athlete Braxton Miller in the third and my favorite third down receiving specialist, running back Tyler Ervin, in the fourth. When was the last time an offense in the NFL was so dramatically different in just one offseason? Watch out for heavy-hitting safety K.J. Dillon and developmental nose guard D.J. Reader to surprise, as well. I'm not as high as some on Fuller, but there are some terrific schematic fits here for the Texans, earning them one of the top grades this year.

Grade: A

Indianapolis Colts

The Colts' offensive line was manhandled a year ago, but that should not be the case this year with top pick Ryan Kelly manning the middle. Powerful, athletic and tough, he should help provide the clean pocket to help Andrew Luck return to star form in 2016, as should third-round tackle Le'Raven Clark, a four-year starter with terrific length and fluidity to handle the speed rushers of the NFL. The flashiest athlete of the bunch is clearly second-rounder T.J. Green, who boasts the length and raw speed to project nicely to corner or free safety in the Colts' scheme. Defensive tackle Hassan Ridgeway would have been a second pick in most drafts but fell to the fourth because of the extraordinary talent at the position this year. Inside linebacker Antonio Morrison is a tough kid with the physicality this club, frankly, has been missing. Watch out for former North Dakota State tackle Joe Haeg to surprise, as well.

Grade: B

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