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AFC South draft needs: If Jags pass on Geno Smith, OT on tap?

As we close in on the 2013 NFL Draft (April 25-27 at Radio City Music Hall in New York City), our analysts examine each team's biggest needs. Chris Wesseling previews the AFC South below, but click here for other divisions.

Houston Texans

2013 draft picks: 27 (1st round), 57 (2nd), 89 (3rd), 95 (3rd), 124 (4th), 160 (5th), 195 (6th), 201 (6th), 233 (7th).
Biggest area of need: Wide receiver.
Other spots to address: Offensive tackle, linebacker, nose tackle, safety.
Prospects who fit: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson; Terrance Williams, WR, Baylor; Keenan Allen, WR, Cal; Menelik Watson, OT, Florida State.

It would be a surprise if general manager Rick Smith didn't target someone who could be a playmaker opposite Andre Johnson. The good news for the Texans is that there should be roughly a half-dozen wide receivers from which to choose late in the first round. The flip side is that they might be better off waiting until the second if one wideout doesn't stand out from the pack.

The Texans need to improve on the right side of the offensive line. Brandon Brooks, a third-round pick last year, can be a factor at guard if he keeps his weight down. They might be tempted by the idea of grabbing a tackle such as Menelik Watson in the first round or Terron Armstead in the second.

Houston is a good bet to pick up an outside linebacker as well as an inside linebacker. The loss of Connor Barwin leaves little depth at pass rusher behind Brooks Reed and Whitney Mercilus. Darryl Sharpton has yet to prove he can stay healthy and effective next to Brian Cushing on the inside. Ed Reed is year-to-year, so it wouldn't be a bad idea to pick up a mid-round safety as well.

Indianapolis Colts

2013 draft picks: 24 (1st), 86 (3rd), 121 (4th), 192 (6th), 230 (7th), 254 (7th).
Biggest area of need: Guard.
Other spots to address: Pass rusher, cornerback, running back, center.
Prospects who fit: Bjoern Werner, DE/OLB, Florida State; Cornellius "Tank" Carradine, DE/OLB, Florida State; Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington; Jamar Taylor, CB, Boise State.

General manager Ryan Grigson addressed most of his needs in free agency, picking up a right tackle, a guard, an outside linebacker, a defensive end, a cornerback and a safety. The top priority should still be to protect Andrew Luck, who was constantly harassed by interior pressure as a rookie. The Colts could use both a guard and a center, though there's no obvious prospect at either of those positions who figure to be available late in the first round. Expect an interior lineman to be drafted in the third or fourth round.


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Outside linebacker Jerry Hughes, a former first-round pick, finally showed flashes of potential last season, but free-agent addition Erik Walden has been one of the least effective pass rushers in the league. With Dwight Freeney no longer in the picture, it makes sense to target an edge rusher in the first round. Someone among the trio of Bjoern Werner, Cornellius "Tank" Carradine or Damontre Moore should fall to the Colts at No. 24. Alternatively, the Colts could take a 3-4 defensive end, such as Datone Jones.

Indianapolis did sign Greg Toler to start opposite Vontae Davis, but they could still use help at cornerback. Given that the Colts don't have a second-round pick this year, Desmond Trufant and Jamar Taylor could be hard to pass up. With Donald Brown in a contract year, look for Grigson to take a flier on a running back late in the draft.

Jacksonville Jaguars

2013 draft picks: 2 (1st), 33 (2nd), 64 (3rd), 98 (4th), 135 (5th), 169 (6th), 208 (7th).
Biggest area of need: Quarterback.
Other spots to address: Tackle, cornerback, safety, defensive line.
Prospects who fit: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia; Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan; Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M; Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama.

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New general manager David Caldwell comes to the Jaguars after working under Atlanta Falcons boss Thomas Dimitroff, who once declared, "Until you find your quarterback, the search for him consumes you." Despite the Jaguars' public stance to the contrary, they can't be convinced that Blaine Gabbert is the answer at quarterback. The question is, do they deem Geno Smith worthy of the No. 2 overall pick, or will they use the leverage that comes with having the first pick in the second round to draft the best of the rest?

If the Jags do pass on Smith in the first round, they could address a major need by grabbing Eric Fisher or Luke Joeckel to start at right tackle now and move to the left side in the future. Left tackle Eugene Monroe, who is entering the final year of his rookie deal, has had no discussions with team about a new contract.

Look for Caldwell to concentrate on defense in the middle rounds. Mock drafts have popularly sent a defensive end to Jacksonville in the first round, but that might actually be the deepest position on that side of the ball. After losing four veterans from last season's secondary, a higher priority should be finding a pair of cornerbacks and a safety.

Tennessee Titans


2013 draft picks: 10 (1st), 40 (2nd), 70 (3rd), 97 (3rd), 107 (4th), 142 (5th), 202 (6th), 216 (7th), 248 (7th).
Biggest area of need: Guard.
Other spots to address: Defensive end, safety, cornerback, tight end.
Prospects who fit: Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina; Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama; Ezekiel "Ziggy" Ansah, DE, BYU; Kenny Vaccaro, SS, Texas.

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The Titans are stuck in limbo as that rare NFL team with few glaring holes in the starting lineup and just as few blue- and red-chip players to build around. Still looking for a fix in the ground attack, Tennessee could target an elite guard such as Jonathan Cooper or Chance Warmack to play opposite free-agent addition Andy Levitre. "If either of those players is on the board at 10," NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said recently, "I'd jump all over them."

If general manager Ruston Webster feels that the 10th overall pick is too high to spend on a guard, he could look to a defensive end such as BYU's Ezekiel "Ziggy" Ansah, Oregon's Dion Jordan or LSU's Barkevious Mingo. Safety is also a need, but it's a deep position in this year's draft, and Kenny Vaccaro might be a reach in the early portion of the first round. The middle rounds should be used to add developmental depth in a secondary littered with year-to-year players.

Follow Chris Wesseling on Twitter @ChrisWesseling.

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