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April 18, 2008

AFC South: Must make most of late picks

Rivals.com has partnered with NFL scout and draft expert Frank Coyle of draftinsiders.com to analyze the five biggest needs of each NFL team. Today, we look at the AFC South.

The NFL's winningest division won't be adding any high profile prospects to fill their needs. Houston's No. 18 pick is the highest in the AFC South. The Titans must find help for Vince Young at No. 24. The Colts have no first round pick. Frank Coyle's breaks down the team needs for the AFC South.

AFC South: Houston Texans | Tennessee Titans | Jacksonville Jaguars | Indianapolis Colts

Head Coach: Gary Kubiak (Third Year)
Key needs: 1. Offensive tackle 2. Cornerback 3. Linebacker 4. Running back 5. Defensive end
1. OFFENSIVE TACKLE: The Texans improved in protecting their passers last season but could still dive into a fine position group. QB Matt Schaub would benefit from a prospect such as Vanderbilt's Chris Williams, who could project to either side. A top-flight left tackle would be a wise addition, but top left tackles Jake Long and Ryan Clady will be gone by the 18th pick. They could surprise and take Virginia guard Branden Albert and eventually move him to left tackle. He is a higher-rated prospect than either Williams or Boston College tackle Gosder Cherilus. They also like Texas' Tony Hills and Auburn's King Dunlap in the middle rounds.
2. CORNERBACK: With their first pick, they like USF's Mike Jenkins and Tennessee State's Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. They also like Arizona's Antoine Cason, but could trade down to late in the first round or into the second and still get him. They like Indiana's Tracy Porter and Penn State's Justin King early in the third round and have LSU's Chevis Jackson and Iowa's Charles Godfrey later in that round.
3. LINEBACKER: The Texans added veterans Chaun Thompson and Kevin Bentley and still hope to add a playmaker next to talented middle man DeMeco Ryans. They are considering Georgia Tech's Philip Wheeler and Geno Hayes in the third round.
4. RUNNING BACK: They could have a chance at Illinois' Rashard Mendenhall or Oregon's Jonathan Stewart at No. 18 overall. Still, they most likely address this position later, with prospects such as Tulane's Matt Forte, UCF's Kevin Smith and Georgia Tech's Tashard Choice possibly available at the 79th overall selection. They also like USC's Chauncey Washington and Oklahoma's Allen Patrick beyond the top-100 choices.
5. DEFENSIVE END: The Texans have used three top picks for their front four but would still like to add a strongside end to complete the unit. They may have their choice of prospects such as Eastern Michigan's Jason Jones or Hampton's Kendall Langford in the middle rounds.
Head Coach: Jeff Fisher (15th Year)
Key needs: 1. Tight end 2. Defensive end 3. Running back 4. Guard/Center 5. Linebacker
2. DEFENSIVE END: The Colts have little depth in their front four and hope to address that, especially on the outside. They could land a prospect such as USC's Lawrence Jackson or Virginia Tech's Chris Ellis late in the second round. Ends such as Iowa's Kenny Iwebema and West Virginia's Johnny Dingle could be there in the third and fourth rounds.
3. RUNNING BACK: The Colts drafted Joseph Addai with their top pick two years ago and he has been impressive. But there's little depth, and they could address this area again. They like Rutgers' Ray Rice and East Carolina's Chris Johnson in the second round, but both could be off the board. They like Cal's Justin Forsett and West Virginia's Steve Slaton in the middle rounds.
4. GUARD/CENTER: The Colts lost guard Jake Scott via free agency and will attempt to fill his slot in the middle rounds. They like guards Roy Schuening (Oregon State) and Shawn Murphy (Utah State) in the third round. They like Rutgers guard Jeremy Zuttah and Arizona State center Mike Pollak in the fourth or fifth round, and both would be fine additions for their scheme.
5. LINEBACKER: They have annual turnover on this unit and have a few young prospects with talent. Still, the Colts may have the opportunity to draft prospects such as BYU's Bryan Kehl, Colorado's Jordon Dizon, Miami's Tavares Gooden and Florida State's Geno Hayes in the third round. They also like Georgia Tech's Gary Guyton and Arizona State's Robert James late on the second day.
Head Coach: Jack Del Rio (Sixth Year)
Key needs: 1. Defensive end 2. Safety 3. Offensive line 4. Wide receiver 5. Quarterback
1. DEFENSIVE END: The Jaguars lost Bobby McCray in free agency and will focus on this position in the early rounds. They need a strong edge pass rusher and like Clemson's Phillip Merling, Miami's Calais Campbell and Auburn's Quentin Groves in the first round and Virginia Tech's Chris Ellis in the second. They also like speed rusher Jeremy Geathers of UNLV beyond the top-100 selections.
2. SAFETY: The Jaguars hope to land a good safety from an average class, but probably will have to use a top-100 selection to address the position. They like safeties DaJuan Morgan (N.C. State) and Kenny Phillips (Miami) early on, and could address strong safety in the third round with defenders such as Arizona State's Josh Barrett and Arkansas State's Tyrell Johnson.
3. OFFENSIVE LINEMEN: The Jaguars are looking for a high-level offensive lineman, probably for the interior more than at tackle. In the middle rounds, they like guards Donald Thomas (Connecticut) and Eric Young (Tennessee); both carry a starting pro grade. At center, they like John Sullivan (Notre Dame) and Steve Justice (Wake Forest) in the fifth through seventh rounds.
4. WIDE RECEIVER: The Jaguars added free agents Jerry Porter and Troy Williamson to their underachieving unit. However, that doesn't mean they won't address the position in the draft. They like prospects such as Missouri's Will Franklin and Richmond's Arman Shields in the middle rounds.
5. QUARTERBACK: The Jags have little behind starter David Garrard. They like Delaware's Joe Flacco in the second round and prospects such as San Diego's Josh Johnson and San Diego State's Kevin O'Connell in the later rounds.
Head Coach: Tony Dungy (13th Year)
Key needs: 1. Defensive tackle 2. Wide receiver 3. Cornerback 4. Running back 5. TIght end
1. DEFENSIVE TACKLE: The Titans need to address their front four early, and possibly with a few high selections. They like North Carolina's Kentwan Balmer in the first round and prospects such as Arkansas' Marcus Harrison, Maryland's Dre Moore and Notre Dame's Trevor Laws in the second round. They could draft into a deep end class and take Clemson's Phillip Merling or Auburn's Quentin Groves in the first round and Virginia Tech's Chris Ellis in the third round.
2. WIDE RECEIVER: The Titans have to address this unit early, and possibly with more than one prospect. With the 24th overall selection, they may have their choice of receivers such as Texas' Limas Sweed, Michigan State's Devin Thomas or California's DeSean Jackson. Sweed would give them a well-developed receiver with an early starting grade. Thomas gives them a big-play weapon and a much-needed return specialist.
3. CORNERBACK: They like Arizona's Antoine Cason and Kansas' Aqib Talib at the No. 24 spot. With their second-round pick, they are hoping either Auburn's Pat Lee or Indiana's Tracy Porter is available. Prospects such as USC's Terrell Thomas and Auburn's Jonathan Wilhite are possibilities in the third round.
4. RUNNING BACK: The Titans have unproven backs LenDale White and Chris Henry on the roster, but may dive into a deep pool of candidates in the top-100 selections. They love Arkansas' Felix Jones late in the first round. They also like East Carolina's Chris Johnson and could surprise and select him with the 24th overall pick.
5. TIGHT END: The Titans signed veteran Alge Crumpler in free agency but have only marginal talent here. They would like to upgrade in the middle rounds with prospects such as Tennessee's Brad Cottam or Texas A&M's Martellus Bennett. They also like Louisville's Gary Barnidge in the middle rounds.

This is special to Rivals.com from Frank Coyle. Coyle has written about the NFL Draft in his newsletter for more than 15 years and has endorsements from NFL veterans like Gil Brandt, Phil Savage and Charley Casserly. Coyle's work can also be found at draftinsiders.com or you may call him toll-free at 800-776-1949.



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