Grading the Draft: AFC South

Except for the Indianapolis Colts first selection, the AFC South was yet another division where the teams came out of draft weekend stronger then when they entered, grabbing good prospects they hope to harvest down the road.


The league's "newest" franchise continued the momentum from February's expansion draft into April and plucked a lot of offensive talent from the college pool.  They hope to build the organization around first pick David Carr and kept their word selecting receiver Jabar Gaffney in the second frame and ball carriers Jonathan Wells and Jarrod Baxter during the drafts second day.  All were solid choices and have the potential to be productive at the next level and you can see the direction they are going with the bigger ball carriers they selected in the middle frames.  Offensive linemen Chester Pitts and Fred Weary could see a lot of action as rookies as Pitts is a terrific fit inside at guard and Weary will be a mauler on the pivot.  Charles Hill can play the nose in Caper's three-four scheme and Ahmed Miller was worth a look as the draft's last selection and will be a force if someone lights a fire under him.  A good effort by the Texans.


A defensive theme was the route the Colts took as six of their seven choices addressed that side of the ball.  Dwight Freeney was a surprise choice and a slight reach in round one.  Indianapolis is hoping his speed on the carpet of the RCA Dome will showcase what he does best; harass opposing quarterbacks.  Larry Tripplett upgrades the talent on the defensive line and is the type of tackle Tony Dungy builds his defense on and cornerback Joe Jefferson is a solid developmental prospect and a cover-man with body size, speed and skill.   Assuming last season was not an aberration, David Thorton could be a steal in round four.


The Jaguars draft looks good on paper and if it hits on all cylinders it could be exceptional.  Were it not for a bad ankle as a senior and questions about his back John Henderson justifiably would've been a top three selection in this draft as he is a game impacting defender on the line.  Mike Pearson is another that suffered through a mediocre 2001 campaign and as a result saw his draft rankings dip.  Still, he is a top-flight pass protector with a large upside.  Akin Ayodele is an intelligent and athletic defender that can handle several different duties either on, or off the line off scrimmage.  The hidden value of could be sixth round choice Clenton Ballard, a big, powerful defensive tackle that must now take his game to the next level. David Garrard is the type of signal caller Tom Coughlin has success with; big, naturally talented and very raw.


The Titans got a break when Albert Haynesworth fell into their laps and they swiped the big underclassmen up, hoping he'll fill a void at defensive tackle and not fall into the malaise some of their other linemen recently have.  Tank Williams could step in at strong safety as a rookie while Rocky Calmus will back-up and help out on special teams.  Should seventh round choice Carlos Hall ever transfer his athletic skills onto the football field he will be a bargain. Mike Echols and Tony Beckham were good middle rounds picks while Justin Hartwig and Darrell Hill could very well surprise down the road.  While there were a few picks we disagreed with another good effort by Floyd Reese and company.

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