2011 NFL Draft: Grading the AFC South
The teams in the AFC South had some interesting draft classes. The Jaguars and Titans both selected their franchise quarterbacks, but there are question marks with both Blaine Gabbert and Jake Locker. Both of those teams were also able to make solid mid-round picks to improve the overall quality at certain positions.
The Colts did a great job in picking up two players who will help to keep Peyton Manning upright. The Texans also had a great draft, as they took multiple players who will make impacts on their new look defense.
Here is my analysis of every pick made by the AFC South franchises, as well as overall grades for each and every team.
1. (11) DE J.J. Watt, Wisconsin: I like this pick for Houston. Watt will make a good pairing at defensive end with Mario Williams. I do think that Prince Amukamara would’ve been a better pick for them in Round 1.
2. (42) OLB Brooks Reed, Arizona: This is a great pick for the Texans, as Reed will make a big impact for the Texans as a pass rusher. I think it’s pretty solid value too, as a lot of people saw him as a late first-round pick.
2. (60) CB Brandon Harris, Miami: No arguments from me about this pick here. Harris is nice value at this spot, and he could even challenge for a starting spot next season.
4. (127) CB Rashad Carmichael: A smart idea to take another cornerback, as the Texans are doing a solid job of turning a weakness into a strength. I like the potential of Carmichael, and he should be a good backup in Houston next year.
5. (144) S Shiloh Keo, Idaho: I think that there are a few more talented safeties available here, but I think it addresses a need. Keo is a player you can’t help but like, though.
5. (152) QB Taylor Yates, North Carolina: Yates is a developmental player at quarterback. I’m not the biggest fan of his, but with proper coaching he can become a solid backup.
7. (214) OT Derek Newton, Arkansas State: Newton is another developmental prospect, but I like his potential in the long run.
7. (254) OLB Cheta Ozougwu, Rice: This was a very good pick considering it was the final pick in the draft. He will provide nice depth at outside linebacker, and he is nice value here.
Final Grade: B+
I really liked what the Texans did in the draft, and you’ve got to love that they went defense with their first five picks. They filled multiple needs on the defense, and they picked up players who can contribute in their rookie seasons. Watt is a very nice fit for a 3-4 defensive end, and Reed is a very solid pass rusher. They also got two solid cornerbacks who will both be contributors to the secondary next season.
1. (22) OT Anthony Castonzo, Boston College: A good pickup here, as Castonzo is the most NFL-ready tackle available in this draft. The Colts know that they need to keep Manning as protected as possible if they want to have another chance at a ring before he retires.
2. (49) OT Ben Ijalana, Villanova: Another solid pick for the Colts. They are doing a good job of selecting players who can keep Manning upright.
3. (87) DT Drake Nevis, LSU: This is not only a good value pick, but Nevis is a perfect fit for the Colts defense. He also fills a very big need, and I think he’ll be a solid contributor in his rookie season.
4. (119) RB Delone Carter, Syracuse: This is an underrated need for the Colts. Joseph Addai could be gone next season, and he is injury prone too. Donald Brown has underperformed thus far, and Carter is a solid player who is a nice pickup here.
6. (188) CB Chris Rucker, Michigan State: Rucker will give the Colts some extra depth at the corner position, which is something the Colts need.
Final Grade: B+
The Colts didn’t have many picks in this year’s draft, but they made the most of what they had to work with. Castonzo was almost a no-brainer in the first round, and he will be a big upgrade to an offensive line that struggled last year. Ijalana is another player who will help the offensive line, and Drake Nevis will upgrade the defensive tackle spot. The other two picks help improve the depth in certain areas that could use it.
1. (10) QB Blaine Gabbert, Missouri: I have to say that I’m a bit torn on this pick. I think that Gabbert can develop into a solid starter, but he won’t help the team out this season. There were a few other more immediate needs that they could’ve addressed here.
3. (76) OG Will Rackley, Lehigh: This is a good pick for the Jaguars, as Rackley will help to improve the interior of their line. Rackley is a good value here as well.
4. (114) WR Cecil Shorts, Mount Union: I think this is a great pickup for the Jaguars. Shorts is an underrated player who will upgrade the receiving corps.
4. (121) S Chris Prosinski, Wyoming: This was a pretty sizeable reach, as Prosinski was barely a draftable player. There were many better players available here, especially at the safety position.
5. (147) CB Rod Issac, Middle Tennessee State: I don’t know who this player is, but I do know that there were a lot of more talented cornerbacks available here.
Final Grade: C
If Blaine Gabbert turns out to be a very good quarterback, then this grade will improve, but he is a work in progress. This draft doesn’t really provide a lot of upgrades who can contribute immediately, but I do like their second and third picks. The last two picks were extremely questionable, and there were so many better players available at those picks.
1. (8) QB Jake Locker, Washington: I think that this was a reach for Locker, but I get the fact that the Titans have a need at quarterback. Locker’s accuracy and mechanics are question marks, but he could develop into a solid player.
2. (39) OLB Akeem Ayers, UCLA: Ayers is a nice pickup here, as he was considered a first-round talent by most people. I think he can contribute immediately, and I like his upside.
3. (77) DT Jurrell Casey, USC: Casey is a good value here, and he fills a pretty big need for the Titans along the defensive line. He will challenge for a starting spot next season more than likely.
4. (109) OLB Colin McCarthy, Miami: This is a good spot for McCarthy, and it fills another need for the Titans. He will boost the depth at the linebacker position.
4. (130) RB Jamie Harper, Clemson: This is a pretty big reach for Harper here, and there were a lot of other backs available here who were more talented.
5. (142) DT Karl Klug, Iowa: I’m a big fan of Klug, and I think he’ll be a good player. He’s a little undersized, but he has a terrific motor.
6. (175) OT Byron Stingily, Louisville: This will help improve the depth along the offensive line, and Stingily should be a nice backup.
7. (212) DT Zach Clayton, Auburn: Clayton is a decent pick here, but he does fill the need for more depth at the defensive tackle position.
7. (251) S Tommie Campbell, California(PA): Campbell is a bit of a surprise here, as I feel like there were a few more talented safeties available here.
Final Grade: C+
I was a bit shocked to hear Locker’s name called at No. 8 overall, but they did need a quarterback. I really liked the Titans picks in Rounds 2 and 3, and I think that Ayers and Casey fill big needs for the Titans. The rest of the picks will provide some depth at certain positions, but I don’t really see any of those players turning into starters in the future.