NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – With the first two waves of free agency complete, and now the NFL Draft, I think it’s finally a safe and reasonable time to take a look at the AFC South.
Many have started to point to the Titans as the “favorite” in the AFC South, and I have to agree it would be easy to do.
The culture in Nashville clearly changed last year in Nashville under Jon Robinson and Mike Mularkey and led by Marcus Mariota at quarterback this team learned to win last season.
I think that’s important, I don’t anticipate a slow start this season because they don’t have to figure it out, they already know and they’ve got the leadership in the locker room to keep that moving forward.
In free agency the Titans were strategic, adding two starters in the secondary in cornerback Logan Ryan and safety Jonathan Cyprien.
Last week in the NFL Draft, they added another starter in first round cornerback Adoree Jackson from USC, who has the ability to be a dynamic game changer.
That’s the good. Defensively, the concern is we still don’t know if Kevin Dodd will be ready and they did not add pass rushing depth.
Offensively, the Titans loaded up in the draft with WR Corey Davis from Western MIchigan and WR Taywan Taylor from Western Kentucky. These guys both have explosiveness, the ability to go deep, and get yards after the catch. Those are all things this team was missing.
They also got younger at tight end adding Delanie Walker clone Jonnu Smith from Florida International. Again, there’s a lot to like.
They’ve got company though and it’s a familiar thorn in their side: The Indianapolis Colts.
I have to commend new GM Chris Ballard for finally addressing the defense and drafting safety Malik Hooker in round one and cornerback Quincy Wilson in round two. I really like both players and they are difference makers. The Colts also took linebacker John Simon from the Texans in a move really like.
The Colts have faith in their young additions to the offensive line. We’ll see if it’s justified. It sounds like Ballard does not want the whole game to rest on Andrew Luck’s shoulder anymore, and that’s probably a wise move considering some of the injury issues he’s had to battle recently.
The Colts took a big step in becoming a more complete team.
I’ve said for a few years the Texans have the most complete roster in the AFC South. It’s still very good, but minus Simon, AJ Bouye, Vince Wilfork, and I don’t care what anyone says we have to wait and see if JJ Watt is the same player.
The wildcard here is Deshaun Watson. I applaud the Texans for trading up to pick the QB from Clemson. I like him because I think he’s a lot like Marcus Mariota, not just physically, but in mental makeup. If he pans out, he takes the Texans to another level, but with quarterbacks we have to wait until we can actually believe.
The Jags got Leonard Fournette and he should help Blake Bortles, but I think a new QB would help the Jags more. They’re retooling again, but difficult to believe in with their future in the hands of Bortles.
So here is my prediction for the AFC South even though it’s waaaaaay too early:
1. Tennessee Titans (10-6)
2. Indianapolis Colts (9-7)
3. Houston Texans (8-8)
4. Jacksonville Jags (6-10)