As we enter the month of the NFL Draft, with only three weeks to go until the NFL descends on Nashville, let’s take a look at what the teams in the AFC South could do when faced with the prospect of losing ‘their guy’ in the first round. All sides will have their ideal first choice and all will have run modellers and scenario planned what they think the other 31 teams will do and how that could have a ripple effect on their selection. If the respective front offices did have to scramble on the first night what could they do to still secure their big-ticket first round pick?
Jacksonville Jaguars (pick no 7)
In an ideal world the Jacksonville Jaguars will select…..Jawaan Taylor. Several recent mock drafts have the Jags taking the highly talented right tackle, to help protect new QB, Nick Foles.
What do they need? Their first pick is most likely to be on the offensive line or a pass rusher according to the latest mock drafts.
What might disrupt them? The waters are still murky for the teams picking in positions 1-6. Will the Cardinals take Murray? How many QBs will go in the first 6 picks? Will teams trade up into the top 6? What will the Raiders do?
What can they do if Taylor has gone? Perhaps the NY Giants ignore the need for a QB and they pinch Jawaan Taylor to help keep Eli upright. In this scenario the Jags could turn their attention to the pass rusher option with Montez Sweatz of Rashan Gary. Or could the Jags get creative here – they could trade back 6 or 7 spots and pick up an additional mid-2nd round pick from Miami or Washington, or a high 3rd round pick from Cincinnati and drop back to spot 11. By doing this I think they could still secure another highly rated offensive lineman in Andre Dillard and pocket the additional high value pick.
Houston Texans (pick no 23) and Indianapolis Colts (pick no 26)
What do they need? For the Texans it is the offensive line or rebuilding the secondary whereas for the Colts again the secondary is an area of need along with additional defensive lineman power.
In an ideal world the Houston Texans will select……DeAndre Baker, and the Indianapolis Colts will select…..Dexter Lawrence (although I note some Colts fans have expressed disquiet at this pick which is coming through recent mock drafts with a suggestion he will fall to the second round). There is much greater love among the Colts faithful for Christian Wilkins. Baker is a good fit for the Texans but would they like to reach up for an even greater prospect in the first round.
What might disrupt them? I think the first ten picks could be a little chaotic, particularly taking into account any sides trading up for a QB. As things enter picks 11-20 things should start to settle down. In terms of the Colts’ desires I think Christian Wilkins will not be left hanging much past pick 15. For the Texans there are three high quality CBs – Baker, Byron Murphy and Greedy Williams and I would expect one of them to still be there at 23 but again what if the Texans’ ambitions are greater?
What can they do? Here is where we get to why I have grouped the Colts and Texans together. They both own two 2nd round picks. Therefore, they both have some capital to trade in order to climb up a few places in the first round. Both sides could use their late 2nd rounder in order to trade up from 23 and 26 to a pick at somewhere around 14-18 (Atlanta, Washington, Carolina, NYG, Minnesota). If either side can find a trade partner using the lure of an additional 2nd round pick (e.g. Giants might like the idea of stockpiling high picks) then I think the Colts could very well secure Christian Wilkins, and the Texans could probably have their pick of the three best CBs in the draft or they could bolster their offensive line with a Jonah Williams or a Cody Ford.
Tennessee Titans (pick no 19)
What do they need? For the Titans they could be looking for a new shiny toy on offense such as at Tight End or Wide Receiver. They could also look to the secondary or the defensive line.
In an ideal world the Tennessee Titans select……Noah Fant at TE. He is appearing with increasing frequency in mock drafts although the Titans could put one over divisional rivals the Colts if Christian Wilkins fell to them at 19.
What might disrupt them? What can they do? Taking both of these questions together, as the answer is that anything could disrupt them and they may not be able to do anything about it. The Titans do not have a slew of picks to offer in order to trade up (unless they try to trade on future 2020 picks). They have one pick per round for the first six rounds. Also the Titans are currently in a reasonable spot, consistency over the last three seasons and now a good crop of experienced talent on board after Free Agency (the likes of Roger Saffold, Adam Humphries, Cameron Wake). I expect them to sit tight, watch what happens and go in with a strategy of adapting as the other teams pick round them on the basis that they can still pick up a great young prospect at no 19.
In terms of their needs – at WR that could mean N’Keal Harry or Hakeem Butler (DK Metcalf likely to be gone), at TE that could be Noah Fant (as TJ Hockenson will be long gone). As mentioned earlier Christian Wilkins would be a great result or possibly they look to the CB position and pinch one of the Texans targets. In some ways being sat in the Titans war room might be the easiest job on the night as any one of the aforementioned names should please the Tennessee faithful.
Given their different motivations – the Jags seeking to get back on track, the Titans and Texans building on solid 2018 seasons, and the Colts attempting to capitalise on their potential ‘Super Bowl’ window – I think there are distinct possibilities for movers and shakers in the first round for the AFC South. Only 3 weeks to go – can’t wait!
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