2018 NFL Draft Analysis – AFC South

Here is part seven of our eight part series, as we begin rounding out looking at how every team did in the 2018 NFL Draft.  If you haven’t checked out the earlier installments, make sure to do so.  I am not going to spend too much time talking about the first round picks as I already dedicated an entire article to that topic.

Houston Texans 

Round 3 – 4 (68) – S Justin Reid, Stanford
Round 3 – 16 (80) – OL Martinas Rankin, Mississippi State
Round 3 – 34 (98) – TE Jordan Akins, UCF
Round 4 – 3 (103) – WR Keke Coutee, Texas Tech
Round 6 – 3 (177) – DE Duke Ejiofor, Wake Forest
Round 6 – 37 (211) – TE Jordan Thomas, Mississippi State
Round 6 – 40 (214) – Edge Peter Kalambayi, Stanford
Round 7 – 4 (222) – DB Jermaine Kelly, San Jose State

The Texans didn’t pick til round 3, and when they were finally on the clock Justin Reid fell right into their lap.  Getting Reid at #68 is tremendous value as he figured to go at the end of the first or early in the second.

In the previous installments of this series, there have been a couple teams I have nominated for possibly having the worst offensive line in the league.  I think the Texans win that title though.  They paid Zach Fulton, but he has never actually been good.  Signing Fulton is now the second time the Texans have thrown a 4 year, $28 million dollar contract at a former Kansas City Chiefs guard that was never actually good for more than a single season.

The Texans have, easily, the worst grouping of offensive tackles in the NFL.  At center, Nick Martin struggled as a rookie, but I’m not advocating for the team to give up on him.  I’m just saying that center is really the only position where the team has someone with upside.

Enter Martinas Rankin.  I liked Rankin much more than the draft community, and many question what position he should play in the NFL.  For a team like Houston, I don’t even care.  They may as well give him a shot at left tackle since it is so important to see if you have a viable one on the roster, but Rankin can play all five spots on the front line.  The versatility allows them find their best five man group and get it on the field.

The Texans, who have a young quarterback, brought in another support piece with their third 3rd round pick by drafting Jordan Akins.  He has the athleticism to by a matchup nightmare, and while it seems that most people find this to be a significant reach, I don’t think its that bad.

Continuing on the “get Watson weapons” train, the Texans brought in Keke Coutee.  I don’t know that the Texans should have prioritized taking a receiver before getting back to the offensive line, and I can’t agree with taking Coutee over DaeSean Hamilton.  I understand the intrigue of Coutee, however, as he is very athletic and has two years of quality production.

Duke Ejiofor is an absolute steal in the 6th round.  He was consistent throughout his career and is technically sound.  He dropped due to concerns about his athleticism, but I don’t see why Ejiofor won’t be able to stick around the league as a solid contributor.

The Texans brought in another weapon for Watson, again at tight end, with Jordan Thomas.  This is a pretty big reach, as Thomas did not have a draftable grade.

Kalambayi is another guy that did not have a draftable grade.  At least he is a pass rusher.

Jermaine Kelly is another guy without a draftable grade, and he wouldn’t have even been a priority free agent.  The secondary may be the second best collective unit on this roster, so I don’t understand rolling the dice on a defensive back.


Houston didn’t pick until round 3 due to two quarterback trades.  They gave up their first rounder in the Watson deal, which I am sure they’re okay with despite it becoming the 4th pick of the draft.  They sent out their 2nd rounder to dump Osweiler’s contract.

The Texans had eight picks, and as players I like all of their first five selections.  It is a talented group where they either got the guy at fair value or excellent value.  They also spent half their picks on surrounding Watson with the most talent possible.

I don’t think they did nearly enough to address their offensive line.  I know they are under the impressive that all three of the interior spots are good to go, but they’re not.  They also have to know that their tackle situation is down right dreadful.  I’m guessing they are going to play Rankin at tackle, probably on the right side I suppose.  They should have hit the unit at least three times, if not to just create competition and depth.  Not protecting your young quarterback is a level of negligence that cannot be understated.  If anyone knows, it should be this franchise.

I’m giving them an extra third of a grade since we have to factor in Watson.

Overall Grade: C+

Indianapolis Colts 

Round 1 – 6 (6) – G Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame
Round 2 – 4 (36) – LB Darius Leonard, South Carolina State
Round 2 – 5 (37) – G Braden Smith, Auburn
Round 2 – 20 (52) – Edge Kemoko Turay, Rutgers
Round 2 – 32 (64) – DE Tyquan Lewis, Ohio State
Round 4 – 4 (104) – RB Nyheim Hines, N.C. State
Round 5 – 22 (159) – WR Daurice Fountain, Northern Iowa
Round 5 – 32 (169) – RB Jordan Wilkins, Ole Miss
Round 6 – 11 (185) – WR Deon Cain, Clemson
Round 7 – 3 (221) – LB Matthew Adams, Houston
Round 7 – 17 (235) – LB Zaire Franklin, Syracuse

I gave the Colts the highest grade of any pick in the first round.  They got an exceptional trade from the Jets, and then landed a plug and play All-Pro to protect Andrew Luck.

I want to use this space to talk about two things: In every mock I made after the trade I had the Colts taking Nelson at #6, until I put out my final mock on draft day and decided to project the 6th pick to be where the Bills traded up for Josh Allen.  This infuriates me, as I changed it at the buzzer and was totally right the entire time.

When the trade with the Jets happened, Chris Ballard said he was comfortable falling to #6 because they knew they would still end up with a premium player.  He went on to say that while he was open to moving down again, it would have to be a pretty attractive offer for them to give up the player they thought they were going to get.

When I heard Ballard say this, I knew he was referring to Nelson.  Who else could he have meant, honestly?  You could talk yourself into thinking he meant Chubb or Barkley, but he probably assumed one or both would be gone.  Oh, and protecting Andrew Luck is by far the most important part of Ballard’s job description right now.

I just thought Buffalo would pony up more than what they eventually did in their trade with Tampa.  Apparently, Buffalo had a deal in place with Denver to send #12 and #22 for #5, but when Cleveland took Ward instead of Chubb, Elway pulled out of the agreement.  That left Nelson on the board for the Colts, and they refused to move.

If Buffalo had called me and offered the same deal they offered Denver, I would have taken it.  The Colts would have profited 10.5 points of draft capital in the trade, according to the Chase Stuart draft chart.  I also would have taken the deal that Buffalo ended up swinging with Tampa (12, 53, 56 for 7), as the profit would have been 13.9.  I may have even preferred the the Tampa deal.

But I can’t fault the Colts for staying at #6 and taking Nelson.  Part of the reason trading down is beneficial is because the draft is such a crapshoot and it is better to just be holding more lotto tickets.  In the case of Nelson, though, I would say he is as close to a sure thing as there possibly can be when it comes to a draft prospect.  Oh, and protecting Andrew Luck’s health is the most important part of Ballard’s job description right now.

So those are the two things.  They kind of blend together, but to sum up, I am pissed I ended up getting the final prediction wrong after having it correct for over two months, and I find it interesting the Colts had no interest in the Buffalo trade.

I am much, much higher on Darius Leonard than I think anyone else.  So while I understand why everyone considers this a reach, I’m really ok with it.  Leonard is a phenomenal athlete, reliable tackler, and can stick with running backs and tight ends in coverage.  He seems to have some ability as a pass rusher, but he won’t come close to solving your issues there.  I do question, however, taking him over Harold Landry, or someone like Uchenna Nwosu, since pass rushers are such a premium.

Also, for the record, Landry ended up in the hands of the Titans, so, like, if Landry sacks Luck and ends up injuring him..

The idea of taking Braden Smith is fine with me, but the Colts need a tackle more than another guard.  If one of Matt Slauson or Matt Mewhort can bounce back to previous levels of play, then that combined with Quenton Nelson puts the Colts in a good spot at guard.  Maybe neither bounces back and that scares Indy, but I see right tackle as a much bigger need and Connor Williams was just sitting there.

The Colts then traded down from #49, sending the pick to the Eagles for #52 and #169.  The Colts profited 2.3 points of draft capital in the trade, and probably got the guy they were going to select anyway.

Kemoko Turay is an interesting pass rushing prospect who fits the draft range of this pick.  Maybe the Colts were so confident in getting Turay here it caused them to lock up Leonard where they did instead of taking Landry or Nwosu.

In a mini trade up with the Browns, Indianapolis once again brought in a pass rusher by selecting Tyquan Lewis.  Indy gave up #67 and #178 to move up to #64, and lost 1.3 points of draft capital in the trade.  I really like Tyquan Lewis, however, and think he was underrated during the draft process.

Early on day four, the Colts selected super jitterbug running back Nyheim Hines.  I really like Himes as a player, as he is very athletic, and he is a threat as a receiver.

Daurice Fountain fits this draft range and gives the Colts a cost controlled option at receiver, something they severely lacked.

The Colts double dipped at running back by taking Jordan Wilkins.  I can’t say I understand this.  I’m not sure Wilkins had a draftable grade, and I thought the team liked Marlon Mack?  Maybe the new coaching staff doesn’t?

I actually think Deon Cain is a better player than Daurice Fountain, so to get him basically a round later is a major value.

Matthew Adams and Zaire Franklin did not have a draftable grades, and I don’t understand why you wouldn’t utilize these picks on dart throws along the offensive line.


The Colts easily did the best of anyone in the first round, and I like all of their first six selections as players.  Deon Cain was also a major value.  I don’t get the second part of the running back double dip or the reaches on Adams or Franklin when those picks could have been utilized on offensive lineman.

Overall I thought Indy would do more to address its offensive line.  I know they drafted two guys with premium picks, and Anthony Castonzo is in place, but I figured at least three, but probably four of the Colts 11 picks could have been used to protect Andrew Luck.  I mean, they made 11 selections, they weren’t lacking in draft resources.

Overall Grade: A-

Jacksonville Jaguars 

Round 1 – 29 (29) – DT Taven Bryan, Florida
Round 2 – 29 (61) – WR D.J. Chark, LSU
Round 3 – 29 (93) – S Ronnie Harrison, Alabama
Round 4 – 29 (129) – OT Will Richardson, N.C. State
Round 6 – 29 (203) – QB Tanner Lee, Nebraska
Round 7 – 12 (230) – Edge Leon Jacobs, Wisconsin
Round 7 – 29 (247) – P Logan Cooke, Mississippi State

I gave the Jaguars a decent grade for the Bryan pick, and while I certainly understand stacking the pass rush as much as possible, Bryan is such a boom or bust guy I think the pick could have been better utilized.

I’m not a D.J. Chark fan.  I have seen this movie too many times.  Guy doesn’t produce in college, and isn’t proficient at the nuances of the position.  Guy goes to Senior Bowl and puts on a show.  Guy goes to combine and lights it up.  Guy gets hyped.  Guy doesn’t pan out.

I find the Senior Bowl to be an important part of the evaluation, since you are competing against the best competition, and I get it is hard to shine as an LSU receiver, but Chark is all projection/hoping he just blows the top off defenses for you.  I don’t think he deserved to go this high.

Getting Ronnie Harrison where the Jaguars got him is an excellent value.

Richardson is an interesting offensive tackle prospect in a draft that isn’t very good at the position.  I wonder if the Jaguars have any plans of moving Cam Robinson inside.

Seeing if you can develop Tanner Lee behind the scenes is a smart idea.

I like taking Leon Jacobs in the 7th and he was worth a pick at least a round higher.


I am surprised the Jaguars didn’t draft a guard.  Jacksonville didn’t do poorly or anything, and I like some guys they took, but I’m not smitten here.  I think they reached on Chark, and Bryan was a lotto ticket.

It seems like Jacksonville got a tiny taste of success for the first time since prohibition, and now view themselves as the Patriots, Steelers, Chiefs, where they can just swing for the fences on a guy to put them over the top instead of continuing a steady approach to roster construction.

Overall Grade: C

Tennessee Titans 

Round 1 – 22 (22) – LB Rashaan Evans, Alabama
Round 2 – 9 (41) – Edge Harold Landry, Boston College
Round 5 – 15 (152) – S Dane Cruikshank, Arizona
Round 6 – 25 (199) – QB Luke Falk, Washington

I gave the Evans pick a B- in my first round grades and think I was too high on it.  Thinking about it more I really dislike the trade the Titans made, swapping #125 for #215, just so they could move up three higher spots from #25 to #22.  They lost 2.7 points of draft capital in the move and plummeted 90 spots later to get three spots higher.

Also, Evans struggles in coverage, and if that isn’t corrected then he is a two-down player.  That is a hefty price for a two-down player.  I like Evans as a prospect, but it’s just the reality of the situation.

I wondered after the Evans pick if the Titans had any plans to have him be an edge guy, but the Titans drafted Harold Landry so I think we know now Evans will be in the middle.

Analyzing the Landry selection is hurting my brain.  If it weren’t for Maurice Hurst dropping to the 5th round, this pick would be my easy winner for steal of the draft.  I think Landry is the best pass rusher in this class and warranted a top 5 pick.  To get him at #41 is ridiculous.

But the trade up the Titans made is just terrible.  The Titans sent #57 and #89 to Oakland for #41.  Oakland profited 3.9 points of draft capital in the trade.  My love affair for Landry is overpowering my disdain of the trade, but it really puts a damper on the fact the Titans got a major steal.

Tennessee, with a sparse amount of picks, moved up again, packaging #162 and #215 to move up 10 freakin spots in the 5th freakin round, so they could lock up Dane Cruikshank.  Not only am I super confident Cruikshank would have been available at #162, since it is debatable if Cruikshank even had a draftable grade, but Tennessee was short on supply regarding draft picks, and they once again consolidated.  At least Cruikshank is super athletic?

Here’s the thing, I actually like Luke Falk as a guy to develop and see what you have in a few years, but I don’t know how that makes sense for the Titans.  Sure, most people thought Falk would go on the second day so to get him in the 6th is great value, but the Titans are tied to Mariota.  Drafting any other position would have probably been more helpful than taking a developmental quarterback.  And I am in no way anti taking quarterbacks to develop.  I think it is prudent and smart, but you can get a 6th round quarterback any year.


The Titans only made four selections in this draft, and got good players with their first two picks.  In fact, one of them, Landry, is an absurd steal.  However, they traded up for both players, which helped deplete draft resources.

I criticized the Jaguars for getting a tiny taste of success and then acting like a team that has been one player away for years like the Patriots, Steelers, or Chiefs, but at least the Jags got to the AFC title game, beat Pittsburgh on the way, and gave the Patriots a real headache.

Tennessee went 9-7 last year with a negative point differential, and then got waxed by New England in the playoffs.  They aren’t one guy away from being a heavyweight.  If Mariota makes a big leap forward it is a different story, but that remains to be seen.

The Titans aren’t in a position to take two massive swings at home runs and eschew continuing to balance the roster and build depth.  I even like the pick of Luke Falk late, but I hate the overall strategy Tennessee employed here.

The fact I love Landry so much is really buoying this grade.

Overall Grade: C-

filed under: NFL

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *