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AFC South draft grades: Texans, Jaguars, Titans all in 'A' range

Former NFL player and scout Bucky Brooks is performing a division-by-division assessment of the 2016 NFL Draft, spotlighting notable picks and handing out grades for each team. Below is his review of the AFC South. (NOTE: Click on the tabs to see other divisional breakdowns.)


BEST PICK: Jalen Ramsey, DB, Florida State
Jacksonville Jaguars, Round 1, No. 5 overall.

The Jaguars not only snagged the best football player in the 2016 draft, but they selected a world-class athlete with a perfect set of skills to thrive in the team's hybrid Cover 3 (press-man) scheme. Ramsey is an explosive playmaker with exceptional length, speed and leaping ability, which makes him an ideal bump-and-run corner at the NFL level. If the former Seminole can quickly master the Jaguars' "kick-step" technique on the perimeter, he could swiftly emerge as the team's CB1 and help the defense rise to prominence in the AFC.

Indianapolis Colts, Round 2, No. 57 overall.

It's hard to fault a defensive coach for falling in love with a 6-foot-2, 209-pound athlete with 4.3 speed and fluid movement skills. While it was surprising to see Green come off the board before some more experienced players at the position, he has the potential to develop into an "eraser" (designated defender capable of matching up with a WR2 or TE1, based on game plan) for the Colts. If he can grasp the footwork, fundamentals and technical skills of the position, Green has the natural ability to outplay his initial rep as a height-weight-speed athlete.

BIGGEST SLEEPER: Braxton Miller, WR, Ohio State
Houston Texans, Round 3, No. 85 overall.

The two-time Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year -- as a quarterback -- is unquestionably one of the most electrifying playmakers in the 2016 class. But questions surrounding his transition to wide receiver led to a surprising fall down the charts despite his immense talent and potential as an offensive weapon. Miller will give Bill O'Brien a versatile playmaker to deploy in the slot like Julian Edelman, while also adding more speed and quickness to the lineup. Considering his big-play potential in an offense that features one of the NFL's top WR1s (DeAndre Hopkins) and an electric runner (Lamar Miller), the Ohio State product's output and performance could exceed expectations for a mid-round pick.


NOTE: Draft classes are ranked from best to worst within the division.

» Round 1: (No. 21 overall) Will Fuller, WR.
» Round 2: (50) Nick Martin, OG.
» Round 3: (85) Braxton Miller, WR.
» Round 4: (119) Tyler Ervin, RB.
» Round 5: (159) K.J. Dillon, S; (166) D.J. Reader, NT.

Hats off to Rick Smith and Bill O'Brien for supplying their new franchise quarterback (free-agent addition Brock Osweiler) with enough weapons for him to succeed as a playmaker. The Texans upgraded their speed and big-play potential on the perimeter with the additions of Will Fuller and Braxton Miller. Each pass catcher displays the burst and acceleration to run past defenders on vertical routes, yet both are also crafty catch-and-run specialists capable of turning short passes into big gains. Tyler Ervin gives the team another explosive weapon out of the backfield and adds some sizzle to the return game. On defense, the Texans picked up a pair of intriguing prospects (K.J. Dillon and D.J. Reader) with the potential to carve out roles as rotational players. GRADE: A+

» Round 1: (No. 5 overall) Jalen Ramsey, DB.
» Round 2: (36) Myles Jack, OLB.
» Round 3: (69) Yannick Ngakoue, DE.
» Round 4: (103) Sheldon Day, DT.
» Round 6: (181) Tyrone Holmes, OLB; (201) Brandon Allen, QB.
» Round 7: (226) Jonathan Woodard, DE.

The Jaguars are committed to building a defense capable of complementing an electric offense that boasts the firepower to lead a playoff run. Gus Bradley and Dave Caldwell used the 2016 offseason to add some talented veteran free agents, but the team needed to acquire blue-chip prospects in the draft to spearhead a quick turnaround. Jalen Ramsey and Myles Jack are top-five talents with the athleticism, speed and playmaking ability to make splash plays all over the field. While Jack is a bit of question mark due to his knee injury, he is an absolute beast when healthy and could give the Jaguars the spark they need on the second level. The team also added a trio of front-line defenders (Yannick Ngakoue, Sheldon Day and Jonathan Woodard) to beef up the pass-rush rotation. Day stands out in particular, as a high-motor rusher capable of providing a push from an inside or outside position. He could be one of the draft's biggest steals when we look back in a few years. GRADE: A+

» Round 1: (No. 8 overall) Jack Conklin, OT.
» Round 2: (33) Kevin Dodd, DE; (43) Austin Johnson, NT; (45) Derrick Henry, RB.
» Round 3: (64) Kevin Byard, S.
» Round 5: (140) Tajae Sharpe, WR; (157) LeShaun Sims, CB.
» Round 6: (193) Sebastian Tretola, OG.
» Round 7: (222) Aaron Wallace, OLB; (253) Kalan Reed, CB.

Jon Robinson is on the verge of quickly transforming the Titans into a playoff contender with his shrewd offseason moves. He continued his rebuilding efforts with a strong draft class that features a number of "hard hat and lunch pail" guys with the blue-collar mentality needed to turn around the program. Jack Conklin is a natural fit at right tackle, but the decision to bypass Laremy Tunsil raised eyebrows in some circles, based on the discrepancy in athleticism and talent. However, the plug-and-play scenario with Conklin and Taylor Lewan on the edges might be the better move because it minimizes the transition along the line. Derrick Henry gives the Titans an Eddie George-like runner to pair with DeMarco Murray in the backfield. The 1-2 punch should help the Titans play keep-away from opponents behind an "exotic smashmouth" approach. On defense, the Titans added talented playmakers on all three levels. Kevin Dodd, Austin Johnson and Aaron Wallace will provide Dick LeBeau with some ammunition up front to attack opponents with fire zones. Kevin Byard and LeShaun Sims are intriguing players with high football IQs and strong ball skills. In an aggressive system that forces the ball to come out hot, each player could snag interceptions on tips and overthrows. GRADE: A-

» Round 1: (No. 18 overall) Ryan Kelly, C.
» Round 2: (57) T.J. Green, DB.
» Round 3: (82) Le'Raven Clark, OT.
» Round 4: (116) Hassan Ridgeway, DT; (125) Antonio Morrison, ILB.
» Round 5: (155) Joe Haeg, OT.
» Round 7: (239) Trevor Bates, LB; (248) Austin Blythe, C.

After losing the franchise quarterback to an injury behind a battered O-line, the Colts made a strong commitment to upgrade the offensive front on draft weekend. The team expended four of its eight picks on offensive linemen, including a first-round selection on Ryan Kelly to shore up the pivot position. The Alabama product is an excellent communicator with solid technical skills and a nasty temperament. He could team with Le'Raven Clark and Joe Haeg to add some toughness to the front line. On defense, the Colts took a flier on T.J. Green in Round 2 to give the secondary a possible "eraser" to use against slot receivers and tight ends. Although skeptics question whether Green is worth an early-round pick as a developmental prospect, the move offers potential to hit a home run on an explosive athlete with tremendous upside. GRADE: B-

Follow Bucky Brooks on Twitter @BuckyBrooks.

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