AFC South draft grades: Titans impress; Texans outmaneuvered?

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Why provide instant grades on the selections of prospects who have yet to take an NFL snap? Well, you're reading this, aren't you? Considering the makeup of every roster and the factors surrounding each pick, Gennaro Filice and Dan Parr attempt a division-by-division assessment of the 2019 NFL Draft. Below is Dan's review of the AFC South.

NOTABLE SELECTIONS

BEST PICK: Josh Allen, OLB, Kentucky
Jacksonville Jaguars, Round 1, No. 7 overall

Jags fans owe a big thank you to the teams drafting ahead of them. Probably worth splurging on those clubs and going a couple steps above an Edible Arrangement, too, because Allen is a gift that will keep on giving. There was widespread agreement from the sages at NFL Media -- from Daniel Jeremiah to Gil Brandt to Lance Zierlein -- that he was the third-best prospect in the draft behind Nick Bosa and Quinnen Williams. But while Bosa and Williams went second and third overall, Allen slipped all the way to the Jaguars at No. 7. Fortune smiled upon Jacksonville in Round 1, and the team was smart enough to welcome it with open arms. He's celebrated as an elite pass rusher after racking up 17 sacks (second-most in the FBS) last season, but this isn't a one-trick Wildcat -- Allen has an all-around game and will be able to do anything the coaching staff asks of him.

MOST SURPRISING PICK: Tytus Howard, OT, Alabama State
Houston Texans, Round 1, No. 23 overall

Look, Howard has a chance to be a very good player, but the action around Picks 22-23 was unexpected and it seems like the Texans came out on the wrong end of that sequence. Here's how it went down: The Eagles swooped in, trading up to take the top tackle in the draft (Andre Dillard) one pick before Houston -- which needed a tackle as badly as any team in the league -- would be on the clock. Stake through the heart for the Texans. Ouch. But hey, they also had a need at corner and none had been drafted yet so that's not so bad ... right? Except, well, instead of doing something like that or working out a trade down (or trading up for Dillard earlier!), the Texans got locked in at No. 23 and took a player in Howard who most likely would have been available to them well into Round 2. He was 50th in both Jeremiah and Brandt's rankings and wasn't sniffing the first round in the final mocks posted to NFL.com. So, yeah, the pick was a surprise, but not the kind Texans fans had hoped for heading into the draft.

BIGGEST SLEEPER: Kahale Warring, TE, San Diego State
Houston Texans, Round 3, No. 86 overall

Kahale Kuio Kalani Michael Wodehouse Warring (that is his full name) is still relatively new to football. He starred in water polo, basketball, cross county, swimming, soccer and tennis in high school before taking his talents to the gridiron in his senior year. Originally a walk-on at SDSU, his combination of size and athleticism has made him the darling of some in the scouting community. We're in full agreement that the upside here is intriguing, and well worth the 86th overall pick. This is a 6-foot-5, 252-pounder with 4.67 speed who has shown the kind of flashes that make teams think this is the next special athlete at the position who won't cost a first-rounder. He's going to need some time to develop, especially as a blocker, but if it all comes together, Warring could be a Pro Bowler in a couple years.

RANK

1

TITANS: A

» Round 1: (No. 19 overall) Jeffery Simmons, DT, Mississippi State.
» Round 2: (51) A.J. Brown, WR, Mississippi.
» Round 3: (82) Nate Davis, OG, North Carolina-Charlotte.
» Round 4: (116) Amani Hooker, S, Iowa.
» Round 5: (168) D'Andre Walker, OLB, Georgia.
» Round 6: (188) David Long, LB, West Virginia.

The return on investment here could be bountiful. Simmons had the second-highest grade of the 500-plus prospects Zierlein scouted this spring. Now, he might need a redshirt year after tearing his ACL in February (part of the reason he was still available at No. 19), but given his rare physical ability and upside, it seems that wise scouting minds won't be surprised if he turns out to be the best player from this class. The idea of Simmons and Jurrell Casey bringing the ruckus from the interior can't be a pleasant thought for division rivals. A huge season awaits Marcus Mariota, so good on Jon Robinson for adding another slot weapon in Brown, who seems like an excellent fit. Between Corey Davis, Adam Humphries, Taywan Taylor and Brown, that receiving corps is starting to look sexy. Davis could be starting at guard within a year or two. The same goes for Hooker, an instinctive guy with some limitations when it comes to athletic traits. Walker and Long were nice values. Walker could make an immediate impact as a situational pass rusher, and, per Zierlein, an NFC executive had high praise for the highly productive Long: "I would rather have David Long over Devin Bush for a round or two discount. They have about the same size but Long is more productive and maybe less prone to injury." All in all, this is a very promising group. It won't be a surprise if Tennessee comes away with four or five starters from this bunch.

RANK

2

COLTS: B+

» Round 2: (No. 34 overall) Rock Ya-Sin, CB, Temple; (49) Ben Banogu, DE, TCU; (59) Parris Campbell, WR, Ohio State.
» Round 3: (89) Bobby Okereke, LB, Stanford.
» Round 4: (109) Khari Willis, S, Michigan State.
» Round 5: (144) Marvell Tell, S, USC; (164) E.J. Speed, LB, Tarleton State.
» Round 6: (199) Gerri Green, edge, Mississippi State.
» Round 7: (240) Jackson Barton, OT, Utah; (246) Javon Patterson, C, Mississippi.

This strikes me as a really good (but not quite great) draft, although we're probably unwise to question any decision by GM Chris Ballard after the way he nailed picks a year ago, paving the way for the team's resurgence with a healthy Andrew Luck. The Colts picked up a second-round pick in next year's draft by trading out of Round 1, and still landed a first-round value at No. 34 in Ya-Sin, one of the great names and talents available in 2019. He has only season of FBS experience, having transferred from Presbyterian College as a graduate student, but with a little coaching, he could develop into a longtime quality starter. Banogu was a little bit of a head-scratcher because we thought he'd go a couple rounds later in the draft. But again, I'm no Chris Ballard. If Banogu adds a few more moves to his pass-rush arsenal, he could be a nice sub-package piece. It's easy to envision Luck pitching Campbell the ball on jet sweeps that go for touchdowns. He adds a speedy element to Indy's attack. Okereke, while lacking ideal size, has the range Ballard wants from his LBs. It made sense to look for safety help on Day 3, with Clayton Geathers on a one-year deal. This was a solid haul that will look even better in a year or two if Banogu maxes out on his potential.

RANK

3

JAGUARS: B-

» Round 1: (No. 7 overall) Josh Allen, OLB, Kentucky.
» Round 2: (35) Jawaan Taylor, OT, Florida.
» Round 3: (69) Josh Oliver, TE, San Jose State; (98) Quincy Williams, LB, Murray State.
» Round 5: (140) Ryquell Armstead, RB, Temple.
» Round 6: (178) Gardner Minshew, QB, Washington State.
» Round 7: (235) Dontavius Russell, DT, Auburn.

The Jaguars had me but then they lost me. I don't think Duval County could have dreamed up a better start than having Allen fall to them in Round 1 only to have Taylor drop into their laps in Round 2. This is the stuff A+ drafts are made of. Allen, the consensus No. 3 player in the draft, went seventh because some teams drafting ahead of Jacksonville got cute, and Taylor's slide was one of the biggest mysteries of draft weekend, with chatter of knee issues floating about the interwebs. GM Dave Caldwell says there are no major concerns about Taylor's health (are there minor ones?), so, yippee! I think. Anyway, this squad got Jeremiah's No. 2 OT in the draft with the 35th pick, and Allen has the makings of a Pro Bowler off the edge. Then things got weird in Round 3. I understand wanting to bring in a tight end who can catch the ball, as it was certainly a need and Oliver can do that, but why not go with Texas A&M's Jace Sternberger -- the more highly regarded pass-catching tight end by Zierlein and many others -- if they were set on addressing the position? It seems they could have gotten better value out of that pick. The selection of Quincy Williams -- brother of No. 3 overall pick Quinnen Williams -- caught many by surprise. He'll either become one of the draft's biggest steals -- he has some fun highlights -- or biggest reaches. We have to wonder if Jacksonville could have gotten him much later. Those third-rounders bring down the grade here. Armstead is a downhill runner who will fit right in with Leonard Fournette's style, although we wouldn't have minded seeing them fill the need at the position earlier with a player who would have brought a more diverse skill set to the table ( Darrell Henderson in Round 3, for example). Minshew will probably be a serviceable 10-year backup in the league. He can develop and learn behind Nick Foles. There's a lot to like (and not like) here.

RANK

4

TEXANS: C-

» Round 1: (No. 23 overall) Tytus Howard, OT, Alabama State.
» Round 2: (54) Lonnie Johnson, CB, Kentucky; (55) Max Scharping, OT, Northern Illinois.
» Round 3: (86) Kahale Warring, TE, San Diego State.
» Round 5: (161) Charles Omenihu, DE, Texas.
» Round 6: (195) Xavier Crawford, CB, Central Michigan.
» Round 7: (220) Cullen Gillaspia, FB, Texas A&M.

We're all in agreement that the Texans had to make protecting Deshaun Watson the focus of their draft after he was sacked a league-high 62 times last season. Unfortunately, the Eagles knew that, too, and beat Houston to the punch. Yes, Philly traded one spot ahead of the Texans in Round 1 to land the draft's top tackle, Andre Dillard. That stings, and Houston should have seen it coming. The Texans could have traded up for Dillard and no one would have argued with spending a little extra draft capital to fill such a monumental need, but instead they ended up with what seems like a reach in Howard at No. 23 -- he was ranked as the 50th-best prospect by both Jeremiah and Brandt. You like the upside with Howard, a former quarterback ( yes, really), but you just wonder about the value. Bill O'Brien has to hope the Alabama State product and second-rounder Scharping develop and do so more quickly than some expect or this draft could go down as an epic fail. That said, I like the Johnson and Warring picks. Johnson's size and length are his calling card. He had a great Senior Bowl week. Warring is going to need some time to acclimate and work on his blocking, but his athletic traits are tantalizing. Omenihu was a nice value in the fifth round. I'm puzzled and intrigued by this group.

Follow Dan Parr on Twitter @TheDan_Parr.

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