With the 2015 NFL Draft fast approaching, Bucky Brooks is breaking down the biggest areas of need for every team in the NFL, division by division. Below is his look at the AFC South. (NOTE: Click on tabs to see other divisions; click on team names to see a full list of draft picks.)
Biggest needs: Cornerback, linebacker, wide receiver.
Bill O'Brien nearly guided Houston to a playoff berth in his debut season despite working with four different quarterbacks. To break through to the postseason in 2015, the Texans need to get more consistent quarterback play and strong performances from several young players at key spots. On defense, in particular, the Texans need to find a long, rangy cornerback to eventually replace Johnathan Joseph on the perimeter. LSU's Jalen Collins, Washington's Marcus Peters and Wake Forest's Kevin Johnson fit the bill. The Texans also need to find a versatile linebacker to plug into the lineup after the free agency departure of Books Reed. Kentucky's Bud Dupree could be an ideal fit based on his explosive athleticism and positional flexibility. Although the Texans did scoop up a few veteran wideouts in the wake of Andre Johnson's exit, they could target an undervalued playmaker like ECU's Justin Hardy or Nebraska's Kenny Bell on Day 2 to help fill the void on the perimeter.
Biggest needs: Linebacker, safety, running back.
The Colts have emerged as legitimate title contenders under Chuck Pagano, but they need a few more weapons to earn a spot in Super Bowl 50. On defense, Indy could use a productive playmaker in the middle to clog up the running lanes at the point of attack. Mississippi State's Benardrick McKinney would an ideal thumper to insert into the lineup at ILB, but the team could also be drawn to UCLA's Eric Kendricks due to his impressive instincts, awareness and production. At safety, the Colts need to find an energetic ball hawk with solid tackling ability. Alabama's Landon Collins is the obvious choice if he's available, but Indy also could opt for a Day 2 value pick like Fresno State's Derron Smith or Arizona State's Damarious Randall. The Trent Richardson experiment bombed in Indianapolis, leaving the Colts looking for a feature back to serve as an apprentice to Frank Gore for a year or so. Miami's Duke Johnson, Alabama's T.J. Yeldon and Indiana's Tevin Coleman are intriguing options on Day 2.
Biggest needs: Pass rusher, running back, free safety.
General manager David Caldwell and head coach Gus Bradley have completely turned over the Jaguars' roster, but the natives are starting to get restless with the lack of W's over the past two seasons. Thus, the Jaguars must find some impact playmakers on both sides of the ball -- guys capable of making immediate contributions. Defensively, the Jaguars finished 2014 tied for sixth in sacks (45), but the unit lacks a dynamic edge rusher. This could prompt the brain trust to snag an explosive athlete like Clemson's Vic Beasley or Florida's Dante Fowler Jr. with the third overall pick. If Leonard Williams is still available, the USC man-child could be a disruptive force as a versatile front-line defender. The Jags could target a safety on Day 2 to shore up the deep middle against the pass. Arizona State's Damarious Randall could be a possibility as a hybrid safety (nickel corner/free safety), or Jacksonville could settle on Michigan State's Kurtis Drummond as an enforcer. Running back is a need, as Toby Gerhart failed to live up to expectations as a high-profile free agency acquisition. Denard Robinson has some promise as a change-of-pace guy, but the team could go after a rugged runner like Boise State's Jay Ajayi or Minnesota's David Cobb to act as the feature back in a downhill offense.
Biggest needs: Pass rusher, offensive tackle, wide receiver.
The Titans' draft-day decisions will let the rest of the football world know exactly how they feel about Zach Mettenberger's chances of developing into a franchise quarterback. He flashed potential as a rookie in 2014, but was it enough to dissuade the team from plucking Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariota (most likely the latter) with the No. 2 pick? Assuming the Titans stay the course with Mettenberger, they could trade out of the No. 2 pick and multiply their picks. If they stay put (and, again, pass on the QB position), then they could target a disruptive defensive playmaker at the point of attack to enhance Dick LeBeau's scheme. USC's Leonard Williams seems like a no-brainer, but Florida's Dante Fowler Jr. could also give the sagging unit some juice along the front line. One way or another, the Titans will be starting a young quarterback in 2015 -- someone who could certainly use an upgrade at right tackle. Looking at the Day 2 possibilities, the Titans could have a chance to land Texas A&M's Cedric Ogbuehi, Oregon's Jake Fisher or Colorado State's Ty Sambrailo. After watching Nate Washington walk away as a free agent, Tennessee needs to add depth to the receiving corps. Expending a mid-round selection on Maryland's Stefon Diggs or Nebraska's Kenny Bell could shore up the WR3 or WR4 position.