CJ Stroud was the second overall pick in the NFL Draft
Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire/AP

The 2023 NFL Draft is now in the books, so it’s time for the annual NFL Draft Grades by Simon Shortt. Today we will be discussing the: AFC South

Houston Texans – A+

Team Needs: QB, WR, DL

The Houston Texans, Head Coach DeMeco Ryans and GM Nick Caserio deserve a round of applause for fooling MANY about their plans for draft night. Not to mention the extra “twist” that sent us all into shock.

At #2 overall they get their franchise QB, and my QB1, in C.J. Stroud. Then they make an aggressive move to #3 to ALSO get the top rated (including clean personal stuff) defensive player in the draft in Will Anderson Jr. I love the aggressiveness, even for a future 1st, because you don’t necessarily need extra first round picks if you don’t need to trade up for a QB.

I like the double-dipping they did on offense later on as well. Two receivers to add to a room that lacks talent overall. First they get the smaller and speedy Nathaniel Dell in the third, then all the way in the sixth they get the bigger-bodied Xavier Hutchinson.

Houston also found some future starting linemen I believe in Juice Scruggs and Jarrett Patterson. Both played guard and center in college, and I could see them stepping into starting roles as early as next year.

And finally, selecting Henry To’oTo’o to pair with Christian Harris, his old college teammate, and oh…that’s right…that other guy they drafted. It’s like their head coach was an Alabama linebacker.

Indianapolis Colts – A

Team Needs: QB, IOL, CB

It’s hard to top what the division rival-Texans did but the Colts sure gave it a shot. Taking Anthony Richardson at four was exactly the right move, and they can either start him right away or let him sit behind Gardner Minshew for a few weeks.

But it wasn’t just a top heavy class for Indianapolis. They selected two outside CBs with starting potential in Julius Brents and Darius Rush – which was key after trading away Stephon Gilmore. They also added a speedy slot receiver to go with their big jump ball guys in Josh Downs. And Adetomiwa Adebawore carries a lot of value as a fourth round pick with his athleticism on defense.

I know they drafted two BIG tackles in this one – but I really wish they were able to take one of those interior offensive linemen as well.

Jacksonville Jaguars – B-

Team Needs: T, DB, DL

The Jacksonville Jaguars had to adjust on the fly this week with the news about Cam Robinson. Already projecting some with Walker Little slated to start at RT, Jacksonville needed to add more talent to that room. They ended up taking the last starting-caliber tackle in this class in Anton Harrison.

But after that, things got messy. They took a tight end at least two rounds too early as well as a MID ROUND RUNNING BACK.

But I do want to give them credit for all the bites of the apple they were able to take with 12 picks in this weekend’s draft.

Tennessee Titans – B

Team Needs: OL, WR, CB

The Titans had a pretty good draft. Despite another MID ROUND RUNNING BACK. After they took another MID ROUND RUNNING BACK last year to play behind Derrick Henry. But anyways.

I didn’t mind the move up for QB Will Levis. If you think there’s at least a chance he can be the QB of the future it’s well worth the trade. But I am VERY happy they didn’t swing on him at 11, because OL Peter Skoronski was the perfect pick for them there.

The offensive line is such a mess in Tennessee right now that Skoronski will actually be the stabilizing force. Also it gives Tennessee the opportunity to have someone force Andre Dillard to play LG, OR they’ll have a high-level LG (Skoronski) to supplement some potential inconsistent LT play from Dillard.

The AFC South is shaping up to be a more competitive and exciting division after the NFL Draft. With three of the top four QBs in this year’s class joining Trevor Lawrence & Co., we should have some great AFC South battles for years to come.

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