2011 NFL Offseason Grades – AFC SOUTH

HOUSTON TEXANS

NFL DRAFT:

2011 DRAFT PICKS: J.J. Watt, DE (1-11); Brooks Reed, DE (2-42); Brandon Harris, CB (2-60); Rashad Michael, CB (4-127); Shiloh Keo, S (5-144); Taylor Yates, QB (5-152); Derek Newton, OT (7-214); Cheta Ozougwu, DE (7-254)

 

Selecting J.J. Watt in the first round was just the beginning of a defensive overhaul for the Texans.

Wade Phillips has to be excited about his new career on the other side of Texas after this draft.   The Texans put a strong emphasis on improving a defense that has some strong players but definitely needs improvement.  They started off with a great young pair of defensive ends.  Watt is definitely going to be more of a containment end meanwhile on the other end, Reed should be spending a lot of time behind the offensive line.   Keo and Michael could tighten up an ailing secondary.  I love this draft for the Texans, I really thought they would target the WR position at some point in this draft but at the same time,  I have a hard time looking at a single pick they made and thinking, “that was the wrong pick for them”.

 

 

 

 

 

FREE AGENCY

KEY ADDITIONS: Johnathan Joseph, CB (Bengals); Danieal Manning, S (Bears); Mike Brisiel, G (Texans); Jacoby Jones, WR (Texans); Matt Leinart, QB (Texans)

KEY LOSSES: Vonta Leach, FB; Amobi Okoye, DT; Dan Orlovsky, QB; Bernard Pollard, S

While everyone was fighting for Asomugha, the Texans snuck in and grabbed the 2nd best cornerback in free agency

One thing is certain, the Houston Texans defense has been completely transformed in the offseason.  First they did an overhaul in the draft and then they went out and brought in some playmakers.  While everyone else was trying to land Asomugha, the Texans went out and signed the second best cornerback in free agency in Johnathan Joseph.  They strengthened that secondary even further with the addition of Danieal Manning as the safety position.  Bringing Jacoby Jones back was necessary and re-signing Matt Leinart was a big win for the Texans because he is one of the best back-ups in the NFL.   The biggest loss was, by far, Vonta Leach who is probably the best run-blocking fullback in the league.  Foster’s numbers could take a step back without Leach in that backfield.

 

 

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

NFL DRAFT

2011 DRAFT PICKS: Anthony Costanzo, OT (1-22); Benjamin Injalana, OT (2-49); Drake Nevis, DT (3-87); Delone Carter, RB (4-119); Chris Rucker, CB (6-188)

 

Costanzo provides the big athletic tackle the Colts need to protect Manning's blind side

I can hardly remember a season when the Indianapolis Colts did not make the playoffs.   The reason is they find value as good as any team in the AFC.  Last season, Manning found himself constantly under pressure and Polian made the right move for the Colts in using his first two picks on offensive lineman.  Costanzo is a strong tackle who should fill in on the left side nicely and could be protecting Peyton’s blind side for the rest of Manning’s career.  Injalana is a lineman that could be plugged into either a tackle or guard position.  Drake Nevis was a good find for this team in the third and Rucker was a nice pick-up in the 6th.  The Colts probably did a better job of addressing all of their positional needs than any other team in this year’s draft.

 

 

 

 

 

 

FREE AGENCY

KEY ADDITIONS: Peyton Manning, QB (Colts); Joseph Addai, RB (Colts); Melvin Bullitt, S (Colts); Jamaal Anderson, DE (Falcons); Antonio Johnson, DT (Colts); Eric Foster, DT (Colts); Ernie Sims, LB (Eagles); Tommie Harris, DT (Bears); Dan Orlovsky, QB (Texans)

KEY LOSSES: Clint Session, LB; Charlie Johnson, OT; Kelvin Hayden, CB; Daniel Muir, DT

The Colts made the biggest signing of the offseason by wrapping up their franchise quarterback.

The Colts did not have the free agent flurry that other Super Bowl contenders did but they did do what every team strives to do – keep their core guys.  In doing so they made perhaps the biggest signing of the free agency period in re-signing Peyton Manning to ensure that he retires with the Colts.  Charlie Johnson was a huge loss for a line that had it’s fair share of struggles last season but the Colts anticipated his departure when they drafted Costanzo.   They also re-signed Joseph Addai who is a solid running back that fits well with what the Colts are doing.  On the defensive side of the ball, many of these signings make a lot of sense because the Colts have always been more about speed on defense than anything.  I would not be surprised to see them use Anderson more like a D-Tackle as opposed to a defensive end.  Either way, I see Indy’s pass-rush and rushing defense being drastically improved from last year.

 

 

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS

NFL DRAFT

2011 DRAFT PICKS:Blaine Gabbert, QB (1-10); William Rackley, G (3-76); Cecil Shorts, WR (4-114); Chris Prosinski, S (4-121); Roderick Isaac, CB (5-147)

 

The Jaguars grabbed who I believe to be the best QB of the draft class with the 10th overall pick.

You’ve already heard me say it about the Vikings, and you’ve heard it about the Panthers and now you’re going to hear it about the Jaguars.  This draft’s grade is largely contingent on one thing – the success of the rookie quarterback the team selected.  I personally believe that Blaine Gabbert was the best quarterback of this year’s draft class and I believe he will be a pro-bowler.  He reminds me a lot of Ben Roethlisberger.   However, I do believe that Blaine Gabbert is rather raw.  Luckily the Jaguars have their quarterback of the present in David Garrard to play while Gabbert develops.  The rest of the draft was rather mediocre.  The real need the Jaguars needed to address was defensive end and for many the question will be – was it worth it to give up so much to land Gabbert or should they have stayed put and taken Adrian Claiborne? I believe the risk was worth taking in that they grabbed, who I believe to be, the best QB in the draft at the 10th spot making him the 3rd QB selected in the draft.

 

 

 

 

FREE AGENCY

KEY ADDITIONS: Paul Posluszny, LB (Bills); Dawan Landry, S (Ravens); Jason Spitz, G (Packers); Clint Session, LB (Colts)

KEY LOSSES: Justin Smiley, G; Derrick Harvey, DE; Vince Manuwai, G; Justin Durant, LB; Clint Ingram, LB; Adam Podlesh, P; Trent Edwards, QB

Posluszny is a natural leader and is a nice addition to an otherwise weak Jaguars defense

Last year the Jaguars linebacker corps was awful but with the addition of Paul Posluszny and Clint Session, Jacksonville is all of a sudden fairly strong at this position.  Dawan Landry was a great pick-up for this team that was in desperate need of some help over the top.  Jason Spitz was also a good pickup for the line.  All in all, there were good pick-ups here but nothing great.  I feel like Jacksonville lost more than they gained.  I really expected Jacksonville to go after a defensive end (Charles Johnson or Ray Edwards anyone?), another cornerback, and a wide receiver in free agency but alas, they just didn’t pull it off.

 

 

TENNESSEE TITANS

NFL DRAFT

2011 DRAFT PICKS: Jake Locker, QB (1-8); Akeem Ayers, OLB (2-39); Jurrell Casey, DT (3-77); Colin McCarthy, ILB (4-109); Jamie Harper, RB (4-130); Karl Klug, DE (5-142); Byron Stingily, OT (6-175); Zach Clayton, DT (7-212); Tommie Campbell, S (7-251)

 

Jake Locker has been most impressive in the preseason.

On draft night, I thought Jake Locker was a reach.  I was certain that when Blaine Gabbert fell past San Francisco, he’d be going to the Titans.  I thought Locker was a late 1st round pick at best, but so far into this preseason, Locker has been a very impressive rookie quarterback and I may be completely wrong about him.   Like the Jaguars, this draft will be graded based on Locker’s progress.   However, Titans fans should forgive the reach for Locker because the Titans then got a first round talent in the second round when they took Akeem Ayers.  My only complaints about the Titans draft would be that they waited too long before drafting a defensive tackle and the team really needed to address the wide receiver position in the draft.  I still think Locker was a reach but now with some time to develop behind Hasselbeck, I believe he could be the QB of the future for Tennessee.

 

 

 

FREE AGENCY

KEY ADDITIONS: Matt Hasselbeck, QB (Seahawks); Barrett Ruud, LB (Buccaneers); Jacob Ford, DE (Titans); Shaun Smith, DT (Chiefs); Leroy Harris, G (Titans); Dave Ball, DE (Titans); Ahmard Hall, FB (Titans); Daniel Graham, TE (Broncos); Mike Munchak, Head Coach (Titans Offensive Line Coach)

KEY LOSSES: Vince Young, QB; Jason Babin, DE; Stephen Tulloch, LB; Tony Brown, DT

Hasselbeck was a strong signing, but does not make sense given the difference between his and Locker's styles.

I like Matt Hasselbeck and think he is a very good quarterback but I am baffled by the addition of him in Tennessee.   With the exception that both Locker and he have lived in the same state the last four years, the two have nothing in common.   I believe Hasselbeck’s skill set is closer to that of Christian Ponder.  I do have to commend Tennessee for landing a top free agent QB but I still don’t think he was the right choice here.   I like the addition of Daniel Graham as a blocking tight end opposite of Jarrod Page and I think that Barrett Ruud is the perfect signing to help a pretty young defense in Nashville.  On the coaching side of things, it is strange to see the Titans without Jeff Fisher on the sidelines but I do believe that Munchak was a perfect fit for the Titans given his history with the team.

 

 

 

The only team in this division that I really feel took a significant step forward was the Houston Texans.  The Colts stayed about the same as did the Jaguars and Titans.  Years from now, this could be the draft that does, however, change the face of the AFC South as the Texans revamped their defense and the Titans and Jaguars believe they got their franchise quarterbacks.  This will be an interesting year in the AFC South.

Questions? Comments? Snide Remarks? Let me hear ’em!

 

 

 

 

 

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