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2022 NFL Draft Wish List: AFC South

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With the NFL Draft right around the corner, FTN is taking a moment to look at each division one at a time. We’re going team-by-team to identify the biggest needs and moves the franchises should be looking at before or during the draft, which starts April 28.

 

As we continue our series, we turn our attention to the AFC South, a division that only had one playoff team. On the other hand, that team was the AFC’s No. 1 seed. The Tennessee Titans won five of their six divisional games in 2021 on their way to a 12-win season. Unfortunately, their season was cut short by the Bengals in the Divisional Round. 

Follow along with our whole 2022 NFL Draft Wish List series:

2022 NFL Draft Wish List: AFC South

Below we’ll take a quick look at each team, their pick haul, and their key needs to address in the draft.

Tennessee Titans 

  • First pick: First round, 26th overall 
  • Total first-rounders: 1
  • Total draft picks: 7

As the Titans begin their quest to reach Super Bowl 56, we can see a few roster holes that need to be filled. One of the biggest areas of need for them is wide receiver. Right now, the Titans are relying on 30-year-old Robert Woods coming off an ACL injury to be their No. 2 receiver. They need to add more playmakers for Ryan Tannehill if they expect to make a deep playoff run. There are also needs need on the defensive side of the ball as well at linebacker, corner and edge rusher. 

After addressing some needs through free agency, the Titans have lined themselves up nicely for the draft. Sitting at 26, they can let the draft come to them. They will have options at wide receiver or edge rusher in this spot. The most sensible move for them here is an edge rusher, in a conference full of high-end passing quarterbacks, they will need pressure off the edge if you have any hope in stopping them. Building the trenches is always a smart move, Boye Mafe or George Karlaftis could be great options left on the board for them. 

Indianapolis Colts 

  • First pick: Second round, 42th overall 
  • Total first-rounders: 0
  • Total draft picks: 7

After missing the playoffs in 2021 due to a terrible Week 18 loss to the Jaguars, the Colts have begun retooling their roster. After a few key free agent pickups, they took care of a few needs on the defensive side of the ball. This is good news as they have a few needs on the offensive side of the ball, starting most importantly with wide receiver, then tackle, tight end and quarterback. 

With limited early picks, the Colts may struggle to address the tackle or quarterback position in this draft. Most likely, a late-round tackle who can be developed will be their answer there. However, with the 42nd pick, they should be in prime position to address wide receiver or edge rusher. Addressing WR feels like the smartest move to me. With T.Y. Hilton still unsigned, the Colts currently have Michael Pittman, Parris Campbell, Ashton Dulin as their top three receivers. Adding a player like George Pickens, Christian Watson or Skyy Moore would definitely help new quarterback Matt Ryan a ton, while making their offensive more explosive through the air. 

 

Jacksonville Jaguars 

  • First pick: First round, 1st overall 
  • Total first-rounders: 1
  • Total draft picks: 12

Sitting at first overall, I think it’s safe to say that the Jaguars need a lot of help all over the roster. With another new staff in the building, we can expect a lot of personal changes. With this comes the need for fresh faces, which they should have no problem getting this in the draft, holding 12 picks. The more important position they need to address is the trenches, both offensively and defensively. They need to help protect 2021 first overall pick Trevor Lawrence, first and foremost. They also need to improve their ability to pressure the quarterback. 

With 12 picks, the Jaguars will be able to retool this roster nicely, especially with four picks in the top 70. This is the team would be wise to address the tackle position with the first pick. They drafted their franchise quarterback last season only to see him running around for his life. Selecting Evan Neal first overall would help them begin to sure up the offensive line. Protecting their investment in Lawrence should be the most important thing this offseason. That said, Aidan Hutchinson is a game wrecker off the edge. He could definitely help any team and would be hard to pass on. 

Houston Texans 

  • First pick: First round, third overall 
  • Total first-rounders: 2
  • Total draft picks: 11

Houston is another team at the top of the draft that has needs all over the roster. The Texans acquired plenty of draft capital to help this situation in a deal that sent star QB Deshaun Watson to Cleveland. The team needs help throughout the defense, while also needing tackle, wide receiver and running back help on offense. Davis Mills seems like the guy under center for the Texans in 2021, so it’s unlikely they’ll address QB in the draft. Adding a top tackle and edge rusher should be top priority.

With two picks inside the top 15, the Texans are set up nicely to help start building a solid roster. We see the best teams in the league always address the trenches in the draft. Those unsexy picks that nobody gets excited about are the ones that win you championships. With that said, adding both a tackle and edge rusher with their first two picks seems likely. Addressing the tackle position first seems likely as that positional group is much shallower than others in this draft. That means they can address edge rusher with the 13th pick. After the first round, the team can use the rest of its picks to fill in the rest of their needs at deeper positional pools.

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