Former NFL player/scout Bucky Brooks and Around The NFL's Conor Orr are performing a division-by-division assessment of the 2017 NFL Draft, spotlighting notable picks and handing out grades for each team. Below is Conor's review of the AFC South.
I like the Fournette pick because he's a physical back with pass-catching skills. His two greatest attributes will not only aid Blake Bortles out of the pocket, but also negate some of the offensive line issues the Jaguars have been experiencing. This isn't the Dallas Cowboys, so don't expect Fournette to push 2,000 yards and double-digit touchdowns. But even if he can fall forward for an extra yard or two above Chris Ivory or T.J. Yeldon, he's doing an immense service to a unit that finished last season 22nd in rushing yardsand 24th in attempts. Now that Tom Coughlin is employed by the Jaguars, expect to hear the word "balance" attached to the offense more than ever. A bulky power back capable of long mileage can help get them there.
Not surprising because of the talent or the value -- both of these were spot on. The pick was fascinating to me because it represents how all over the place evaluations were on first-round talent. What I mean: The Titans were an obvious trade-up destination for teams looking at the No. 1 quarterback in the draft, who ended up shocking a majority of the football world by going No. 2 to the Chicago Bears. After Mitchell Trubisky was off the board, all bets were off and teams were tasked with selecting the No. 1 guy on their boards. Davis was apparently that player for the Titans; a physical receiver who is still a bit of a mystery. As NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock noted, Davis did not have a combine performance or pro day workout due to a small ankle procedure.
Mack led my list of Day 3 immediate contributors for good reason. The Colts have been starving for a youth injection in their backfield. Nothing against the legendary Frank Gore, but Mack can add a different element to the club's passing game and help wear down defenses. Placing the burden on Gore's shoulders for the past two years was borderline irresponsible by the Colts' personnel team, and they're finally getting around to intensifying their backfield presence against a slew of good defenses in the division.
NOTE: Draft classes are ranked from best to worst within the division.
» Round 1: (No. 4 overall) Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU.
» Round 2: (34) Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama.
» Round 3: (68) Dawuane Smoot, DE, Illinois.
» Round 4: (110) Dede Westbrook, WR, Oklahoma.
» Round 5: (148) Blair Brown, LB, Ohio.
» Round 7: (222) Jalen Myrick, CB, Minnesota; (240) Marquez Williams, FB, Miami (OH).
Unsure if any team got a better first- and second-round value in each of the last two years than the Jacksonville Jaguars. Combining Fournette with Robinson -- the top tackle in the draft in the eyes of some media analysts and evaluators -- is a safe and effective move that puts two king-sized SEC stars into the same system. Having Robinson grow from the ground up with former collegiate offensive lineman Doug Marrone as head coach should be a benefit, just as having Coughlin lord over Fournette and the power running game will be an extra bonus. General manager Dave Caldwell's last four first- or second-round picks are now: Fournette, Robinson, Jalen Ramsey and Myles Jack. Not bad.
» Round 1: (No. 5 overall) Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan; (18) Adoree' Jackson, CB, USC.
» Round 3: (72) Taywan Taylor, WR, Western Kentucky; (100) Jonnu Smith, TE, Florida International.
» Round 5: (155) Jayon Brown, LB, UCLA.
» Round 6: (217) Corey Levin, OL, Tennessee-Chattanooga.
» Round 7: (227) Josh Carraway, OLB, TCU; (236) Brad Seaton, OT, Villanova; (241) Khalfani Muhammad, RB, Cal.
The Titans did not go full Browns, nor did they need to. They've spent the last of their 2016 pre-draft trade capital and the haul was impressive. I especially liked this draft because it was all for quarterback Marcus Mariota, who received three new weapons out of the gate. The Titans were able to create yardage off their powerful offensive line and cheeky play calling a year ago, but are now on their way to being another Cowboys-style powerhouse once Davis grows into his own.
» Round 1: (No. 15 overall) Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State.
» Round 2: (46) Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida.
» Round 3: (80) Tarell Basham, DE, Ohio.
» Round 4: (137) Zach Banner, OT, USC; (143) Marlon Mack, RB, South Florida; (144) Grover Stewart, DT, Albany State (GA).
» Round 5: (158) Nate Hairston, CB, Temple; (161) Anthony Walker Jr., LB, Northwestern.
Like the Titans, I have no problem with a team throwing massive amounts of picks at one side of the ball. The Colts took Hooker, Wilson and Basham before looking toward the offensive line (Banner, a 6-foot-8, 353-pound tackle). Chuck Pagano's defense has been punchless for years now, and new general manager Chris Ballard isn't shy about his efforts to make them competitive right away. After an aggressive but thrifty free agency, the Colts turned their focus toward a safety who reminds many, including NFL Network's Mike Mayock, of Ed Reed.
» Round 1: (No. 12 overall) Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson.
» Round 2: (57) Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt.
» Round 3: (89) D'Onta Foreman, RB, Texas.
» Round 4: (130) Julie'n Davenport, OT, Bucknell; (142) Carlos Watkins, DT, Clemson.
» Round 5: (169) Treston Decoud, S, Oregon State.
» Round 7: (243) Kyle Fuller, C, Baylor.
In so many ways, this year's class is both a stunning admission of guilt by the Texans' front office for the Brock Osweiler fiasco and a wildly aggressive maneuver to make up for it. They were one of the few teams with a gut feeling about a quarterback in this class, and they made it happen. Rick Smith and Bill O'Brien are smart enough to realize they don't need Andrew Luck or Aaron Rodgers to make this team function properly. Watson's combination of steely nerves, movement ability and throw velocity should be just fine once he gets a chance. Remember, with adequate QB play this past year, the Texans could have taken out the Patriots in New England. Smith also used his last draft with high picks for a while to stockpile some foundational players, like Foreman and Cunningham -- if they're in win-soon mode, the grade for this draft might reveal itself sooner rather than later.