Thursday, May 11, 2017

2017 NFL Draft Grades: AFC South

Here are my final 2017 NFL Draft grades for teams in the AFC South:

Houston Texans
1. Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson (B)
2. Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt (A)
3. D'Onta Foreman, RB, Texas (B)
4. Julie'n Davenport, OT, Bucknell (A)
4. Carlos Watkins, DT, Clemson (A)
5. Treston Decoud, S, Oregon State (D)
7. Kyle Fuller, C, Baylor (A)
Final Grade: 3.28 (B)
There were four verifiable home runs based on prospect rankings for the Texans in this draft. Cunningham may be the most underrated LB in this class, and I would have been very much OK with him being picked in the last half of the first round. Davenport was one of the most high profile small school picks, and may end up as a starter by the end of the season. Watkins gives the front seven rotational depth on the interior, and he can be very productive in that role. Fuller had a fourth round stamp on him, and by falling to the seventh, he gives the Texans a cheap player who could work his way into a job.
Watson is not nearly as much a home run or a sure thing as the others. He has never played under center on a regular basis, and needs a ton of work, and is also a turnover machine. I have heard some say that he could be the Dak Prescott of 2017, but Prescott never had expectations, and nobody saw him coming. This is much different. Foreman has some serious skill at RB, and could have instant impact, but he has only had a major impact as a runner for one full season, and his off-field focus could be a concern.
I cannot see Decoud cracking this 53 man roster and he may be limited to special teams if he does. He was a complete throw away pick.

Indianapolis Colts
1. Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State (B)
2. Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida (A)
3. Tarrell Basham, DE, Ohio (A)
4. Zach Banner, OT, USC (B)
4. Marlon Mack, RB, USF (A)
4. Grover Stewart, DT, Albany State (C)
5. Nate Hairston, CB, Temple (D)
5. Anthony Walker, LB, Northwestern (B)
Final Grade: 3.0 (B)
The Colts did an overall decent job of drafting in 2017, as they attained three A grade picks on the weekend. Quincy Wilson gives the Colts a potential stable presence at CB, which was much needed. Marlon Mack may eventually give the Colts an every down back that they have not had in a long while, and Terrell Basham may be one of the more underrated edge guys in the draft.
Hooker is a solid player, but only produced for one full season. He was a complete ball hawk in that one season, but was that real, or just a glitch? Banner will give the Clts depth at either tackle or guard, and Walker's stock was soaring heading into draft weekend, yet still fell to the Colts in the fifth round.
Stewart was a bit of a reach in the fourth round, and could have been had later, and Hairston gained just a 7th round grade, so he was a massive reach in the fifth.

Jacksonville Jaguars
1. Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU (A)
2. Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama (A)
3. Duwuane Smoot, DE, Illinois (C)
4. DeDe Westbrook, WR, Oklahoma (B)
5. Blair Brown, LB, Ohio (B)
7. Jalen Myrick, CB, Minnesota (B)
7. Marquez Williams, FB, Miami (C)
Final Grade: 3.0 (B)
The Jags addressed major needs early on by picking Fournette and Robinson, who should both be starters from day one. The Jags had made it known in the days leading up to the draft that of Fournette had not gone to Chicago, he was their guy, and it worked out.
Westbrook was one of the more dynamic receivers coming in this class, but off field potential issues developed, leaving him in a cloud of character murkiness that most teams wanted to avoid. He is a solid player, but character concerns and the lack of need at the position dropped this pick a point for me.
Brown has no issues, and has value where he was selected, but again, LB was not a pressing need coming into the draft, and they had other issues to address here. The same can be said for Myrick and Williams.
Smoot did fill a major need for the Jaguars, but they reached on him by two rounds, and he may not pan out.

Tennessee Titans
1. Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan (A)
1. Adoree' Jackson, CB, USC (A)
3. Taywan Taylor, WR, Western Kentucky (A)
3. Jonnu Smith, TE, FIU (C)
5. Jayon Brown, LB, UCLA (A)
6. Corey Levin, OL, Chattanooga (C)
7. Josh Carroway, OLB, TCU (D)
7. Brad Seaton, OT, Villanova (B)
7. Khalifi Muhammed, RB, California (F)
Final Grade: 2.67 (B-)
The Titans were crushing this draft early, but it took some bad turns late.
Davis and Taylor will give the Titans some major impact at receiver, where they could use some punch in 2017 for Marcus Mariota. Jackson was one of my favorite players in the draft, and I completely disagree with the assessment by Mike Mayock that he is merely a developmental corner. He will be a starter from day one, will return kicks and punts, and could be used as a secret weapon on offense as well. Jayon Brown is one of the more productive yet underrated LBs in this class.
Seaton will give the Titans some developmental depth, and was probably a better pick than Levin, who was a reach even in the sixth round.
Smith is a solid TE/H-Back type who can run and catch the football, and is a decent blocker, but he was not really a need for where they took him.
Carroway and Muhammed may find it difficult to crack the 53 man roster.

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