Editor's note: Anyone in the NFL will tell you it takes three years to judge a draft. With that in mind, we asked analyst Bucky Brooks to take a look at how every NFL team fared over the last three years. In the second of a four-day series, he examines the AFC and NFC South divisions:
Analysis: The Titans have knocked it out of the park with their first-round picks. Johnson and Griffin have already earned Pro Bowl berths in their young careers, and Johnson is regarded by some as the best runner in the game. Britt appears to be the No. 1 receiver the team has been missing for years. Although Henry can officially be labeled a bust, the team has generally avoided the big mistakes in early rounds and sports a roster rich in young talent.
Analysis: Team president Bill Polian has transformed the Colts into a perennial contender by consistently drafting and developing players who are ideal fits in the team's system. These players are often unheralded collegians, but their ability to blossom as pros is a testament to the Colts' keen insight on the match between player and system. Bethea, Garcon and Collie are prime examples. In addition to their draftees, the Colts have been able to transform several undrafted players into key contributors. Melvin Bullitt and Jacob Lacey are a few of the many undrafted players who have developed into playmakers for the Colts. Although Indianapolis has enjoyed tremendous success with the young players, the team has also had its fair share of failures with Ugoh, Hughes and Pitcock ranking as lowlights. Regardless, the team's ability to grow its own talent is a reflection of the solid performance by its personnel department.
Analysis: The Texans have assembled a roster that is brimming with talent on both sides of the ball. Although most of their top players are veterans, the Texans have had a few of their recent draft picks provide outstanding production in their rookie seasons. Cushing earned a Pro Bowl berth as a rookie starter last season, and his stellar play also netted him the Defensive Rookie of the Year award. Slaton also enjoyed a sensational debut season in 2008 while finishing as the league's seventh-leading rusher. Though Slaton failed to duplicate the feat in his second season, his dynamic playmaking ability has been a boon to their offensive attack. While the team has gotten good production from its most recent top picks (Brown and Cushing), the Texans have yet to see Okoye provide an impact. The 2007 first-rounder has 8.5 career sacks, but 5.5 of those sacks were recorded in his rookie season.
Analysis: The Jags have been maddeningly inconsistent over the past three seasons, and their unpredictable performance can be attributed to the scattershot play of their top draft picks. Harvey and Groves were virtually non-existent off the edge last season, and Jacksonville's 2007 first-round pick, Nelson, has been a relative non-factor since having a solid rookie campaign. Though Sims-Walker, Durant and Knighton have been pleasant surprises, the team's inability to strike big in the draft's later rounds has left it with little depth at key positions.