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NFL Draft Class Recaps - AFC South

Updated: Jun 16

By Aaron Ussery

Houston Texans

Round 1, Pick 3 - Derek Stingley, CB, LSU

Stingley was once perhaps the most highly touted CB prospect ever, before the shine wore off his star over his final two years at LSU. He has an All-Pro ceiling if he can stay healthy and focused, which would give Houston the lockdown number one corner they've been missing ever since Jonathan Joseph left town.

Round 1, Pick 15 - Kenyon Green, IOL, Texas A&M

Green is a plug-and-play guard, and figures to slot right next to Laremy Tunsil on the left side of the offensive line. He and Tunsil form a strong pair that should help improve the protection for Davis Mills' blind side. Green also has experience at tackle, and could play there in a pinch if something should happen to either Tunsil or RT Tytus Howard.

Round 2, Pick 37 - Jalen Pitre, S, Baylor

Pitre is more of a "big nickel" type than he is a true safety. He possesses excellent coverage instincts that can help make up for his lack of range and recovery speed. I expect Lovie Smith to deploy him in a similar "star" role to what he played for Dave Aranda at Baylor. He'll earn starting reps in Houston's secondary relatively quickly.

Round 2, Pick 44 - John Metchie, WR, Alabama

A bit of an overdraft in my opinion, as I had Metchie graded as a Round 3 talent. He isn't the fastest or biggest receiver in the world, and is still working his way back from an ACL tear he suffered late in Alabama's 2021 season. However, he is a very technically refined player and carries himself with a level of work ethic that Nick Saban gushed about. He figures to compete with Nico Collins et al. for a WR2/3 role in the Texans offense.

Round 3, Pick 75 - Christian Harris, LB, Alabama

The second of two back-to-back 'Bama players, and another one who comes with an emphatic stamp of approval from Nick Saban. Harris started at linebacker for the Tide as a true freshman - which certainly speaks volumes about his IQ and attitude. His tackling needs a little cleaning up, and there are times where he can get caught guessing when diagnosing plays, but his ceiling is that of a plus-starter. He'll likely sit a year behind Christian Kirksey and Kamu Grugier-Hill, neither of whom are signed long term.

Round 4, Pick 107 - Dameon Pierce, RB, Florida

One of my favorite picks of the fourth round, Pierce has the upside of a three-down starting back. He'll have to fight Marlon Mack and Rex Burkhead for carries early on, but neither player is signed past 2022. I predict Pierce to be this team's unquestioned starter in the backfield come 2023.

Round 5, Pick 150 - Thomas Booker, IDL, Stanford

Booker comes with some very enticing pass rush ability at the interior 3-Tech spot. The Texans haven't been able to get good contribution from names like Maliek Collins and Ross Blacklock in recent years, so Booker will have a good shot at getting on the field early. He should be a solid rotational piece for this team's interior, likely sitting out most running downs.

Round 5, Pick 170 - Teagan Quitoriano, TE, Oregon State

Quitoriano joins a host of other Beavers on Houston's roster (such as WR Brandin Cooks and CB Steven Nelson). He is a big-bodied pass catcher with clear feel for body position and outmuscling defenders for the ball (why yes he does have a basketball background how'd you guess??). He also shows a mean streak as a blocker, which helps make up for his meager speed and quickness. His ceiling is as a serviceable TE2, but he's good enough to compete with the likes of Brevin Jordan and Pharoah Brown for starting reps as a Texan.

Round 6, Pick 205 - Austin Deculus, OT, LSU

Deculus is nothing if not experienced. He started at LSU for four straight years, and played in a total of 61 games while there (a school record). He has the length and power you want from a tackle, but he's also very stiff and doesn't possess great feet. He'll provide Tytus Howard with some competition for the starting RT job, but most likely winds up as a backup.


Indianapolis Colts

Round 2, Pick 53 - Alec Pierce, WR, Cincinnati

Pierce joins Michael Pittman Jr. to form a very intriguing height-weight-speed pass catching duo for the Colts. The wideout room needed a boost following the departures of TY Hilton and Zach Pascal, and Pierce's elite size and athleticism certainly qualifies. He is a limited route runner, but can still win early on in his career both vertically and at the catch point. I see him as a clear WR2 behind Pittman.

Round 3, Pick 73 - Jelani Woods, TE, Virginia

The Colts seem to have a type with pass catching targets. Like Pierce (and Pittman and Mo Alie-Cox), Woods is another big body with plus-level athleticism. He also brings good value as a blocker, with the potential to become elite at it if he hones his craft. I expect Woods to play a lot of TE2 reps early on in his career, but he has the potential to earn the starting job over Alie-Cox pretty quickly.

Round 3, Pick 77 - Bernhard Raimann, OT, Central Michigan

Raimann is a former tight end who is still building up both his strength and his technique as an offensive tackle. That could make his transition to the NFL extra difficult, and to make things more complicated he also will turn 25 as a rookie. However, his bend, balance, and football IQ are top level, and he's certainly got enough talent to win the Colts' starting LT job over Matt Pryor.

Round 3, Pick 96 - Nick Cross, S, Maryland

Cross was a player I highlighted before the NFL Combine as someone who would test insanely well. And he did just that, finishing with the second highest RAS score of any safety in this year's class. He'll need to improve his eyes and decision-making a bit, but his speed and ball skills are what you want from an NFL starter. With Khari Willis entering the final year of his deal with the team, Cross looks like a prime candidate to compete for that job come 2023.

Round 5, Pick 159 - Eric Johnson, IDL, Missouri State

Johnson isn't likely to earn any starting reps over DeForest Buckner (duh), but his explosive hands and quick get-off are what you want to see. He should be a good contributor as a rotational piece for the Colts defensive line, possessing the linear athleticism and long arms to make impact plays.

Round 6, Pick 192 - Andrew Ogletree, TE Youngstown State

The central theme for the Colts' draft strategy seems to be "take a chance on supreme athleticism." Ogletree, like Woods, is a massive TE prospect with high-level movement skills. He'll need some grooming, but if his game progresses enough he could be ready for regular starting reps come 2024 (right around the time Alie-Cox has a potential out in his current deal).

Round 6, Pick 216 - Curtis Brooks, DT, Cincinnati

Brooks is another quick man for the defensive line, with a bit less size and strength than that of Johnson. He likely will be asked to rush from both the 5 and 3 tech spots, adding some key depth behind both DT DeForest Buckner and EDGE Kwity Paye.

Round 7, Pick 239 - Rodney Thomas II, S, Yale

Closing it out is yet another stellar athlete. Thomas has the ability to play both safety and outside corner, which could help his chances at making the roster. I think he's likely a practice squad candidate, with an outside chance to see some game day action on special teams thanks to his athletic traits.


Jacksonville Jaguars

Round 1, Pick 1 - Travon Walker, EDGE, Georgia

Walker was ultimately the team's choice at number one overall due to his insane physical upside. He needs quite a bit of refinement before he becomes a consistently productive outside pass rusher, but as he grows and develops he has the type of power and explosiveness to win early. He should start right away opposite of Josh Allen along the Jaguars' defensive line.

Round 1, Pick 27 - Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah

The loss of Myles Jack in the offseason left a wide open spot opposite new addition Foyesade Oluokun in the middle of the defensive lineup. Lloyd is as good a solution as the Jags were going to find in this draft class. He's incredibly versatile, offering plus level skills in coverage, run fills, and pass rush. Depending on how well he's able to absorb DC Mike Caldwell's scheme, Lloyd could wind up as Jacksonville's "green dot" guy as early as Week 1.

Round 3, Pick 65 - Luke Fortner, IOL, Kentucky

Fortner was a player I identified as a potential late round gem, but the Jags wound up selecting him at the very top of the third. The center position was wide open for them prior to the draft, with longtime starter Brandon Linder having announced his retirement in late March. What Fortner lacks in physical upside he makes up for in technical prowess. He's a low-ceiling/high-floor type who has what it takes to start for Jacksonville Week 1.

Round 3, Pick 70 - Chad Muma, LB, Wyoming

The Jaguars double dip at the LB position, finding another big versatile player in Wyoming's Muma. He lacks the length and coverage range of Devin Lloyd, but possesses the same type of energy, football IQ, and downhill aggression/explosiveness. If nothing else, he will be a strong contributor on special teams as a rookie but could very well compete for starting reps with Oluokun and Lloyd.

Round 5, Pick 154 - Snoop Conner, RB, Ole Miss

Conner isn't overly explosive, but he has great size and contact balance as well as some promising pass protection skills. He does have some patience issues and doesn't offer a ton of value as a receiver, but has a great nose for the end-zone -- finishing with 13 rushing TDs for the Rebels in 2021. He figures to compete with Ryquell Armstead for the team's RB3 role behind James Robinson and Travis Etienne.

Round 6, Pick 197 - Gregory Junior, CB, Ouchita Baptist

The first of two CB picks to round out the team's draft, Junior has true outside corner length and speed but will need a lot of polishing in terms of his instincts and ball production. He adds some depth to the CB room, but will likely need to show out on special teams in order to make an early impact in his career.

Round 7, Pick 222 - Montaric Brown, CB, Arkansas

The second of the two CB selections, Brown doesn't have the same level of speed as Junior. Any false steps for him may lead to getting roasted over the top. His instincts are much more developed than Junior's right now, however. He's got a great feel for matching routes and finished with 5 interceptions and 11 pass deflections during his final year at Arkansas. That type of ball production in the SEC is promising, but he still may project best in the NFL as a big nickel or safety type rather than as a true outside corner.


Tennessee Titans

Round 1, Pick 18 - Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas

Burks was obviously brought in with the intent of directly replacing AJ Brown's role in the offense, for much cheaper. That certainly places a lot of pressure on him as a rookie, but his skillset is promising. He has Brown's physicality both before and after the catch, but his pre-draft testing left some concerns about his overall athleticism. Those concerns don't show up on tape, however, so it could wind up being a non-issue. He should be one of the team's top pass catching weapons immediately, alongside new addition Robert Woods.

Round 2, Pick 35 - Roger McCreary, CB, Auburn

McCreary is a bulldog of a DB, playing with a high level of competitive stickiness despite his undersized frame. There's concerns about his lack of length and how that will hold up on the outside in the NFL, but McCreary is a classic case of "tape don't lie." His production as an outside corner the SEC was spectacular, which is good because he actually doesn't have much experience in the slot. The team will likely try him outside, where he'll compete with Kristian Fulton and Caleb Farley for starting reps.

Round 3, Pick 69 - Nicholas Petit-Frere, OT, Ohio State

Petit-Frere has the length and size you want from a starting tackle, but lacks core strength and anchor ability. Aiden Hutchinson in particular was able to expose this, running right through the OT several times during Michigan's win over the Buckeyes last season. I believe the team's plan will be to try him a right tackle and hope he can win that job over Dillon Radunz, allowing them to kick the latter inside at guard to try and make up for the loss of Roger Saffold.

Round 3, Pick 86 - Malik Willis, QB, Liberty

Willis was the media's favorite QB during the draft process due to his enticing physical traits. His accuracy issues have been well-documented, and his field processing was a tattered mess behind Liberty's offensive line. As a result, the NFL clearly saw him as a developmental project as opposed to a Day 1 starter. So he will be in Nashville, where Ryan Tannehill's contract has a potential out following the 2022 season. I'm sure the Titans' hope is that they see enough promise from Willis behind the scenes to feel comfortable moving on from Tannehill's overinflated deal come 2023.

Round 4, Pick 131 - Hassan Haskins, RB, Michigan

Derrick Henry's injury in 2021 sparked an uncomfortable conversation about his long-term projection. His play style is unlikely to age well, and more injuries and missed time are to be expected. They weren't able to retain D'Onta Foreman, unfortunately, so finding a suitable RB2 made sense. Haskins can be that type of player, possessing a similar "power back" style to both Henry and Foreman which could allow him to be uniquely successful in Tennessee.

Round 4, Pick 143 - Chig Okonkwo, TE, Maryland

Another "culture fit", Okonkwo is listed as a tight end but likely projects as a pass catching H-Back type for the Titans. His ability to sustain blocks isn't quite there yet, but the initial "pop" he delivers really jumps out on tape. He possesses excellent straight line speed, not dissimilar to former Titan Jonnu Smith. Developing his blocking will be key for him seeing the field, but there's a clear path to him becoming a key weapon for this team in a year or two.

Round 5, Pick 163 - Kyle Philips, WR, UCLA

Philips is a textbook slot receiver, who likely reminded the Titans brass of Adam Humphries from not too long ago. His role in the offense is clear, as a third-down "move the chains" guy. The Titans are going to want to run more 11 personnel looks with Derrick Henry's career likely starting to wind down, and Phillips is exactly the kind of WR3 you want to have in those formations.

Round 6, Pick 204 - Theo Jackson, S, Tennessee

Jackson offers some much needed depth behind starters Amani Hooker and Kevin Byard, the former of whom is currently in the final year of his rookie deal. Jackson is a rangy, versatile cover player who can contribute on special teams and as a "tight end specialist" similar to how they had employed Dane Cruikshank over the past several seasons. He has an outside shot at taking over the starting job from Hooker in 2023 if he shows out enough.

Round 6, Pick 219 - Chance Campbell, LB, Ole Miss

Campbell is a sturdy athlete at the LB position with the hardnosed play style that Mike Vrabel likes. He showcased better testing than expected at the combine, and pairs that with good instincts on tape. His arms are a bit on the short side, and that shows up when he tries to disengage from blockers and keep himself clean. He has a good shot at snagging the LB4 role behind Zach Cunningham, David Long, and Monty Rice -- with special teams likely needing to be where he shines early on.

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