NFL Draft Grades: AFC South

Derek Stingley and Kenyon Green headline the Texans NFL Draft Grades
(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

The NFL Draft is officially over so it is time to hand out NFL Draft Grades! These NFL Draft Grades will cover all 32 teams who will be graded based on who they picked, team needs, and their overall draft process. Here are the NFL Draft Grades for the AFC South.

Houston Texans: B+

The Texans made the first surprising move of the draft by taking Derek Stingley Jr. third overall. Stingley adds athleticism and physicality that the cornerback room was lacking last year. Head Coach Lovie Smith has even said they couldn’t do what they wanted defensively because of the cornerback play. They also added speedy safety Jalen Pitre who will bring more dynamism to the backfield. They also traded back two spots to select Kenyon Green. Green is perhaps the most talented interior offensive lineman, although poor testing and underwhelming athleticism had seemingly dropped his stock. If I were to pick nits, I’d wonder why they didn’t even trade back even further with Philadelphia to 18 to select Green and obtain more assets. But the A.J. Brown trade might’ve had something to do with that.

On Day 2 they added two talented Alabama prospects at John Metchie III and Christian Harris at positions of need. Both players could see themselves at the top of the depth chart at their respective positions in a year or two. Dameon Pierce and Thomas Booker were nice Day 3 picks that could carve out roles early on this season.

Indianapolis Colts: B

The Colts have to lose some points for trading their first round pick for Carson Wentz. And considering they missed the playoffs and traded Wentz to the Washington Commanders, I’d say the move didn’t work out. They make up for that low grade day one with an excellent day two.

Alec Pierce is a wide receiver with tremendous size, athleticism and production. He’ll be a perfect pairing with Michael Pittman Jr. In a class of talented WRs it would not surprise me if in three years he was one of the top performers. They also got another nice offensive weapon in Jelani Woods.

They addressed a need at tackle as well in Bernhard Raimann. Still raw to the position, Raimann has the athleticism and traits to be a good tackle. He might even be ready to start early on since he’d play next to Quenton Nelson. They also filled a need at safety with Nick Cross. One of the most athletic players in the draft, Cross has played multiple spots on the field, and can fill a lot of spots on defense as he grows into a full time role.

Jacksonville Jaguars: B-

It feels weird to be so underwhelmed by the team with the number one overall pick, but that’s what I am. There’s obvious questions about if Travon Walker can grow into a double-digit sack lineman. Otherwise his floor is a good run defender and decent starter – not ideal for the top pick in the draft. I do give them points for trading back into the first round to get linebacker Devin Lloyd, a great replacement for Myles Jack who moved on from the team this offseason.

Then without a round two pick (from the trade) they had two early picks in the third round. With those they drafted Luke Fortner and Chad Muma. Fortner is a center they bring in after the retirement of Brandon Linder. Linder coincidentally was their starting center after being a third round selection in 2014. Muma is a good linebacker, and should make a good pairing with Lloyd. Muma can be your north/south linebacker taking on blocks, while Lloyd can excel east/west and in coverage. The Day 3 picks didn’t do much for me.

What concerns me is the lack of skill players for Quarterback Trevor Lawrence. They add Christian Kirk, Zay Jones, and Evan Engram in free agency. All fine players. But no one that really pops. Jalen Tolbert, Romeo Doubs, David Bell and Danny Gray were all available for them in the third round. And if Walker doesn’t pop for them, you wonder if one of the offensive tackles would have been a better investment for Lawrence.

Tennessee Titans: A-

The Titans had a great draft by sticking true to their principles, and getting players that fit their culture. In the first round they made the trade of A.J. Brown for the 18th overall pick. They turn around and get rookie A.J. Brown in Treylon Burks. Burks is a big, physical receiver who loves contact, and excels in a game of catching the ball near the LOS and making a big play out of it. I’m a fan of trading out the WRs nearing the end of their first contract, if you can get a top guy to replace him in the draft. On Day 2 they add Roger McCreary, Nicholas Petit-Frere and Malik Willis.

McCreary is undersized but an extremely physical corner. In the last two drafts they’ve added nice players to that room in McCreary, Caleb Farley and Elijah Molden. Petit-Frere is a strong tackle with good feet and hands who can compete for the right tackle position, or even left tackle depending on what happens with Taylor Lewan. Willis was obviously someone talked about as a top 10 pick. While he has mechanical issues to work out, coming to an established team with a QB in place, who could be on the way out in a year or two, this is the perfect spot for Malik. If he reaches his ceiling, Tennessee will have made the pick of the draft getting him in the third round.

I also like their fourth round picks of Hassan Haskins and Chigoziem Okonkwo. Two guys who won’t be starters, but can still be playmakers for this offense.

Be sure to follow along as I give NFL Draft Grades for all 32 teams, right here on Fantom Sports! And for more draft content you can listen to my podcast, the Simon Shortt Podcast, on Apple and Spotify!

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