The Draft Scout Roster Grades: AFC South
Our team-by-team look at every division in the NFL continues with the AFC South. The South has taken a hit with Deshaun Watson demanding a trade and under accusations by 20-plus women of sexual misconduct; grading the Texans requires a look without one of the NFL’s top quarterbacks. The rest of the division has hope, though. Carson Wentz arrived in Indianapolis with Super Bowl aspirations. The Jacksonville Jaguars have a franchise savior in Trevor Lawrence. And the Titans believe they’ve fixed their issues on each side of the ball. Who has the best roster in the AFC South? We grade them all.
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2020 Record: 4-12
Free Agent Additions:
OLB Kevin Pierre-Louis, CB Terrance Mitchell, OLB Jordan Jenkins, QB Tyrod Taylor, WR Andre Roberts, CB Tavierre Thomas, RB Phillip Lindsay, CB Desmond King, LB Christian Kirksey, RB Mark Ingram, S Terrence Brooks, WR Chris Conley
QB Davis Mills (Rd 3, Pick 3)
WR Nico Collins (Rd 3, Pick 26)
TE Brevin Jordan (Rd 5, Pick 3)
LB Garrett Wallow (Rd 5, Pick 26)
DT Roy Lopez (Rd 6, Pick 11)
DE J.J. Watt (released), QB Deshaun Watson (trade demand), WR Will Fuller
Overall Roster Grade: D
The Houston Texans have the worst roster in the NFL, and it might not be close. There is no answer at quarterback—in fact there are many questions—and the supporting cast is incredibly week after seeing DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller leave in back-to-back offseasons. New general manager Nick Caserio has his work cut out for him after inheriting a team that had been light on draft capital following the Laremy Tunsil trade. In the NFL you sometimes have to tear down a roster to build it back up and that might be where the Texans are right now.
2020 Record: 11-5
Free Agent Additions: QB Carson Wentz (trade), LT Eric Fisher, T Sam Tevi, DT Isaac Rochell, FS Sean Davis
DE Kwity Paye (Rd 1, Pick 21)
DE Dayo Odeyingbo (Rd 2, Pick 22)
TE Kylen Granson (Rd 4, Pick 22)
S Shawn Davis (Rd 5, Pick 21)
QB Sam Ehlinger (Rd 6, Pick 34)
WR Mike Strachan (Rd 7, Pick 1)
OT Will Fries (Rd 7, Pick 21)
Subtractions: DE Denico Autry, QB Jacoby Brissett, LB Anthony Walker, OT Anthony Castonzo (retirement)
Overall Roster Grade: B
The Colts’ success in 2021 will hinge on whether new quarterback Carson Wentz gets back to his former self or if he’s the turnover prone passer we saw in Philadelphia last year. The talent on the offensive line and on defense will once again carry Indianapolis, even after Eric Fisher was brought in to replace retired Anthony Castonzo. This is a well-coached team in a weak division, so expectations should be very high. But again, that all depends on Wentz and if you trust him to return to the player we saw in 2019 instead of 2020.
If Wentz is right, the Colts should be a playoff team again.
2020 Record: 1-15
Free Agent Additions:
CB Shaquil Griffin, S Rayshawn Jenkins, DT Roy Robertson-Harris, WR Jamal Agnew, WR Marvin Jones, TE Chris Manhertz, RB Carlos Hyde
QB Trevor Lawrence (Rd 1, Pick 1)
RB Travis Etienne (Rd 1, Pick 25)
CB Tyson Campbell (Rd 2, Pick 1)
OT Walker Little (Rd 2, Pick 13)
S Andre Cisco (Rd 3, Pick 1)
DT Jay Tufele (Rd 4, Pick 1)
DE Jordan Smith (Rd 4, Pick 16)
TE Luke Farrell (Rd 5, Pick 1)
WR Jalen Camp (Rd 6, Pick 25)
WR Keelan Cole, DT Al Woods
Overall Roster Grade: C+
The Jacksonville Jaguars will have a very new look in 2021 with the general manager (Trent Baalke), head coach (Urban Meyer) and quarterback (Lawrence) all first-timers with the team. The pressure will be on Meyer and Lawrence to prove they are as talented as their reputations indicate.
Lawrence shouldn’t be expected to lead the Jaguars to the postseason as a rookie, but a year like Justin Herbert’s 2020 is reasonable. In that case, the Jaguars should be much improved from their one win last season.
A strong draft class and a beefy free agent crop should bode well for Jacksonville. And while they’re not yet ready to contend in the AFC South, they’re not as far off as it my seem.
2020 Record: 11-5
Free Agent Additions:
WR Julio Jones (trade), WR Josh Reynolds, OLB Bud Dupree, DE Denico Autry, CB Janoris Jenkins, RT Kendall Lamm
CB Caleb Farley (Rd 1, Pick 22)
OT Dillon Radunz (Rd 2, Pick 21)
LB Monty Rice (Rd 3, Pick 29)
CB Elijah Molden (Rd 3, Pick 37)
WR Dez Fitzpatrick (Rd 4, Pick 4)
DE Rashad Weaver (Rd 4, Pick 30)
WR Racey McMath (Rd 6, Pick 21)
S Brady Breeze (Rd 6, Pick 31)
TE Jonnu Smith, CB Adoree’ Jackson, CB Malcolm Butler, DE Jadeveon Clowney, OT Isaiah Wilson, WR Corey Davis
Overall Roster Grade: A-
The Tennessee Titans saw a housecleaning this offseason as the team moved on from key starters, let others walk in free agency, and admitted a fault in their 2020 first-round selection of tackle Isaiah Wilson.
With an eye on future cap health, the Titans were limited in what they could do this offseason and it shows on the depth chart. As they break in yet another offensive coordinator, the plan will be to feature running back Derrick Henry and wide receiver A.J. Brown while hoping another star emerges.
The coaching of Mike Vrabel, an improved defense, and a weak division should still keep the Titans in playoff contention but this roster is weaker headed into 2021 than it was when 2020 ended.
Update: The Titans’ trade for superstar wide receiver Julio Jones puts the roster way over the top and easily replaces the production of Davis and Smith. Brown and Jones combine to make up one of the NFL’s best receiver duos and will keep defenses confused as they try to also stop arguably the NFL’s best running back in Derrick Henry.
I personally really like the moves GM Jon Robinson and the Titans have done this offseason. It is evident that they wanted to make the emphasis on pass defense and their FA and draft adds are particularly well rounded in that regard.
I am not necessarily against the B. I also think the loss of Jonnu Smith and Corey Davis will not be as noticeable because King Henry and AJ Brown are still the primary offense.