The Texans filled a lot of holes on defense, using five of their eight picks, three of their first four, and their first and second round selections on defensive players.
Brett Hansbauer/UC Sports Communications
Though they did draft good value players — and a lot of talent — across the board, they failed to pick up players that satisfied their two biggest needs on offense; running back and wide receiver.
Former first-round picks Mario Williams, Amobi Okoye, and Travis Johnson will be joined on the defensive line by 2009 second-round selection Connor Barwin. First-round pick Brian Cushing joins former Defensive Rookie of the Year DeMeco Ryans at linebacker.
Cushing and Barwin will probably start right away, but McCain and Nolan will probably be special teamers. Quin has a shot at starting, or becoming a nickel or dime back, given the current depth chart at the position for Houston.
On offense, third-round center Antoine Caldwell will add toughness and depth. The Texans took two tight ends with their other selections on offense, in Anthony Hill and James Casey. They will add depth and the versatility to run two-tight end sets alongside entrenched starter Owen Daniels.
Netting two starters and adding quality depth at a number of positions has to be looked at as a win for Houston, but the fact that they failed to pick up a running back at all and that they didn't bolster the receiver position has to be a troubling for them.
Barwin. Mario Williams will take him under his wing, teach him some of the finer points of the end position at the pro level, and teach him how to take advantage of his considerable athletic ability. Barwin should be a heavy contributor from opening day on.
Casey. He is a raw prospect and may even be looked at as a third tackle instead of a tight end. But, if the biggest reach the team made was with their fifth-round pick, their draft has to be considered a success.
Charlie Bernstein's Take:
Houston's draft yielded value in nearly every round with a certain focus on improving the weak link of their team from a year ago, the defense.
They opened with a pair of pass rushing linebackers in Brian Cushing and Connor Barwin, who can give the team more versatility to potentially go with some hybrid 3-4 defensive looks. Houston quickly snatched up Alabama center Antoine Caldwell in round three, and he will immediately challenge for a starting job.
Houston went tight end heavy in rounds four and five as they grabbed super-blocker Anthony Hill, followed by a surprise pick of hometown favorite James Casey. Tight end was hardly a position of need, as the team boasts Pro Bowler Owen Daniels.
Throw in some secondary help with New Mexico corner Glover Quin in round four, Utah corner Brice McCain in the sixth, and Arizona State safety Troy Nolan in the seventh round, and the Texans filled needs and secured value last weekend.
Jaguar fans had to be holding their breath when Michael Crabtree slipped to them at eighth overall, as the Jaguars have not had success with first-round receivers so far this decade.
Kevin C. Cox/Getty
However, the Jacksonville front office decided to play it safe, drafting left tackle Eugene Monroe, then taking Ebon Britton, another tackle with a first-round grade, in the second.
They continued to fill needs, taking defensive tackle Terrence Knighton and cornerback Derek Cox in the third. The receivers came next, with Mike Thomas and Jarrett Dilliard coming off the board in the fourth and fifth and Tiquan Hilliard in the seventh.
Tight end Zach Miller was chosen in the sixth round to challenge Marcedes Lewis and Rashad Jennings, possibly the best value pick in the draft, went to the Jaguars with a compensatory selection in the seventh.
They neglected to draft a quarterback, which means they must trust David Garrard to rebound from a disappointing 2008 and for Cleo Lemon to step in and be productive should anything happen to Garrard.
If that happens, then there is no harm in ignoring the position. They will regret failing to draft a linebacker, though, since their depth at the position is thin and could certainly use an infusion of young talent.
Since the strategy of taking one guy with a high selection at receiver has not been a good one for them in the past, taking several with later selections may prove to be just the tonic that unit needs.
The addition of Torry Holt also doesn't hurt their overall talent and depth at the position, but they had also better hope that Dennis Northcut can continue to be productive and that Holt has not lost too much off his fastball.
Monroe. He was supposed to be gone in the top five, so any time you can draft a top five tackle at eighth overall, it has to be considered a serious boon.
With Monroe and Britton in the fold, the Jaguars will not need to worry about depth and talent along the offensive line for years to come, which was a major point of consternation for them in 2008.
Cox. Jacksonville has had success with Division I FCS players in the past, but there were more accomplished players available to them at this point that were more of a "sure thing." Given that they relinquished a second round pick in the 2010 draft in order to select Cox, that makes the pick that much more of a risk.
Charlie Bernstein's Take:
The Jaguars draft was interesting as it was very inconsistent. During the first day, new general manager Gene Smith went with a pure best available player philosophy and that netted the team two talented left tackles.
On the second day, the team drafted more for need as it would appear they reached in the third round for Temple's Terrance Knighton and then traded up with New England, relinquishing a second-round pick next year for William and Mary cornerback Derek Cox. Those third-round picks will either make or break the Jaguars draft.
Later on in the second day, the team addressed their wide receiver position as they selected ultra-productive collegiate receivers Mike Thomas and Jarett Dillard in the fourth and fifth rounds respectively.
Throw in a reach in round six with Nebraska-Omaha's Zach Miller, followed by some value in the seventh with Rashad Jennings and Tiquan Underwood, and the Jaguars have the makings of a certain boom or bust draft.
With 11 picks total — four compensatory, one trade with the Patriots — the Titans addressed every need they had except quarterback. They grabbed two wide receivers in Kenny Britt (first round) and Dominique Edison (sixth), two cornerbacks in Jason McCourty (sixth) and Ryan Mouton (third), offensive linemen Troy Kropog (fourth) and Ryan Durand (seventh), defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks (second), running back Javon Ringer (fifth), tight end Jared Cook (third), linebacker Gerald McRath (fourth), and safety Nick Schommer (seventh).
By all accounts, it was a successful draft for Tennessee, as they both filled needs and took the best athlete available. With as many picks as they had and the talent they possess on their roster, it is unlikely that all these gentlemen will make the roster, but they have to be happy with the haul they walked away from draft weekend with. And, of course, having too many good players at a number of positions is a nice problem to have.
However, leaving the quarterback position untouched and operating under the assumption that Kerry Collins can hold it together for one more season or that Vince Young can put the issues of his first three seasons was, to be kind, a risky proposition.
In a quarterback-driven league such as the NFL, pinning a team's hopes on the above assumptions is careless at best and potentially disastrous at worst.
This is a toss-up between Ringer and Marks. The Michigan State tailback adds depth and youth to an already ridiculously talented — and young — backfield. And he fits right in with what they like to do on offense.
Marks is an exceptional one-gap defender, has a great deal of upside and athletic ability, but his consistency, effort, and attitude have been questioned. The same questions were posed of Albert Haynesworth, even well into his NFL career, and all the Titans did with him was turn him into a $100 million dollar man and one of the most disruptive defensive forces in the league.
Britt. Once Hakeem Nicks went off the board, the receivers with a first round grade were gone. The Rutgers product is a massive prospect that can stretch the field, but suffers from lapses in concentration and inconsistent hands, which essentially makes him like every other receiver on the roster.
Most NFL teams have come to realize that they need a good mix of possession guys, deep threats, and big bodies. Tennessee, apparently, has not put this together, as the talent on hand is filled with players that all have the same strengths and same weaknesses.
If they play to their strengths and conceal their weaknesses, they will do well. If not, it will be more of the same in the passing game for the Titans.
Charlie Bernstein's Take:
The Tennessee Titans may have had the very best draft of anyone in the AFC South, which is especially impressive being they were picking near the end of almost every round.
The Titans grabbed a playmaker for quarterback Kerry Collins in round one, in the body of Kenny Britt from Rutgers. Britt, along with the much underrated Justin Gage and speedster Nate Washington, should make for a fine trio of receivers.
Tennessee further addressed the passing game by trading up with New England to snatch tight end Jared Cook from South Carolina.
In round two, the Titans helped ease the pain of losing Albert Haynesworth in free agency as they selected Auburn defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks. Marks will rotate in with Jason Jones and Tony Brown, and we don't expect the defensive line to fall off much at all.
The Titans added depth in the secondary by selecting former Hawaii corner Ryan Mouton in round three, then Rutgers corner Jason McCourty in the sixth round, and finally North Dakota State safety Nick Schommer with their final pick in round seven.
The Titans best picks, in our opinion, came in rounds four and five when they grabbed Southern Mississippi linebacker Gerald McGrath and Michigan State running back Javon Ringer. McGrath will compete for a starting job right away next to Keith Bullock, and Ringer will add even more talent to an already loaded backfield with Chris Johnson and Lendale White.
Add in a couple depth selections on the offensive line with Tulane offensive tackle Troy Kropog (fourth round) and Syracuse guard Ryan Durand (seventh round), and you have an ultra-successful draft.
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