By: Dominic Choroski
With Free-Agency starting in the upcoming days and the draft following next month, it is a crucial time for NFL teams. Every front office is looking at their rosters and assessing what positions they can upgrade at. Here we will take a look at the teams in the AFC South and see what their biggest needs are ahead of Free-Agency and the draft, as well as possible options to fill their biggest needs.
The Texans had a nightmare finish to last year’s season. Becoming the first team in NFL history to hold a 20-point lead and go on to lose by 20+ points in the same game. Now, the biggest need for the Texans is a new head coach and general manager, being that Bill O’Brien has been mediocre at best in these positions. However, we are only focusing on players here, and the biggest need for the Texans is the same one it has been since drafting quarterback Deshaun Watson, offensive line. In just two seasons Watson has been sacked 125 times. Protecting the face of the franchise and one of the league’s premier young talents takes precedent over all other needs.
Houston tried to address the cornerback position during the season, acquiring former first-round pick Vernon Hargreaves III from Tampa Bay and drafting Lonnie Johnson Jr. in the second round of last year’s draft. Neither of those moves paid off. The Texans haven’t had a top-end corner since A.J. Bouye. Getting someone to sure up the secondary of this defense will be in the cards this upcoming season.
Possible Addition: Free-Agent Guard Ronald Leary
Jacoby Brissett has been as good as one could have hoped for in the wake of Andrew Luck’s injuries and retirement. Yet, it seems like that just wasn’t good enough. There was some early-season success and even playoff hopes for the Colts, but that dissipated quickly. It was obvious that the coaching staff didn’t have faith in Brissett’s abilities to win games. Therefore the hunt for a new quarterback begins.
The Colts have T.Y. Hilton who is one of the more underrated receivers in the league, but the pass-catching options are less than ideal outside of Hilton. Tight-End Eric Ebron had a career season when Luck was his quarterback two years ago. That same production was not achieved last season. There is a smorgasbord of talented receivers in the draft. The Colts are bound to draft one of them.
Possible Addition: Draft Oklahoma Wide Receiver Ceedee Lamb
It seems like a decade ago when the Jaguars were facing off against Brady and the Patriots in the AFC Conference Championship. Part of that is because the team has completely new names suiting up for them. Many of their stars have departed, and while replacing corner Jalen Ramsey is important, finding an answer to the linebacker position tops the list. With Telvin Smith taking a break from football, and Myles Jack not living up to the contract extension he signed a year ago, the linebacker position has been one of the weak points on what was supposed to be a stellar defense.
As mentioned earlier replacing Jalen Ramsey is on the to-do list amongst other things. Whether Gardner Minshew or Nick Foles is the quarterback next year, both will need an offensive line that can protect them. In addition, starting tight end James O’Shaughnessy had only 14 receptions last year. Teams with dynamic tight ends win games, just ask the Chiefs and 49ers.
Possible Addition: Free-Agent Linebacker Christain Kirksey
Put aside the quarterback position, as the Titans will either sign Tom Brady or Ryan Tannehill. Their pass rush ranked 27th last year. Also, the best pass-rusher for the Titans was 37-year-old Cameron Wake. Bringing in a young infusion of pass-rushing talent would be wise. The Titans drafted Harold Landry last year but he needs to prove he can be a consistent disrupter. The number one mission, after getting the quarterback situation figured out, find someone to replace Wake and pair with Landry.
The news just broke that the Titans are releasing running back Dion Lewis. Derrick Henry will undoubtedly get resigned this offseason. However, getting a change of pace back would be a good idea for the Titans. A back who can be a pass-catcher out of the backfield, and give Henry some rest.
Possible Addition: Draft Penn State Edge Rusher Yetur Gross-Matos