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2024 NFL Draft Wish List: AFC South

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The AFC South was quietly one of the most fun divisions in football last year. Both the Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts surprised many in 2023, and while the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans disappointed, there is still plenty to be excited about.

The Jaguars still have Trevor Lawrence, while the Titans made a ton of huge offseason additions. With C.J. Stroud, Anthony Richardson, Lawrence and Will Levis, it’ll be fun to watch these teams battle it out for the next decade.

Let’s take a look at what these teams might want to focus on in this month’s NFL Draft.

(Check out the NFL Draft Wish List series: AFC EastNFC EastAFC NorthNFC North | NFC South | AFC West | NFC West)

2024 NFL Draft Wish List: AFC South

Indianapolis Colts

  • First pick: 1st round, 15th overall
  • Total first-rounders: 1
  • Total selections: 7

After an interesting season that nearly led to a playoff appearance, the Colts sit in the middle of the pack in this year’s NFL Draft. At 15th overall, both wide receiver and defensive back should be in play for the Colts. Admittedly, they could absolutely trade back, especially considering Chris Ballard has traditionally liked moving back to add more draft capital. But if Indianapolis stays put, there are three players that stand out in the first round.

For starters, BrIan Thomas will likely be the fourth wideout selected in this draft, and it could come as early as 15th overall to the Colts. Indianapolis has their clear alpha in Michael Pittman, who agreed to an extension this offseason, and they also selected Josh Downs in the middle of the third round last year. But Thomas could replace Alec Pierce, who hasn’t done a ton since the Colts drafted him in the second round a few years ago. Thomas, meanwhile, has an awesome combination of size (6-foot-3, 209 pound) and speed (4.33 40-yard dash). He ranked top-three in college football in both deep catches (15) and deep receiving yards (670) last year, leading the nation with 17 touchdowns. Thomas gives the Colts speed they don’t really have at wide receiver, clocking in over 22 mph multiple times last year. And I’ve mentioned this before, but his sideline awareness when the ball is in the air is very impressive, often getting both feet in bounds, despite only needing one in college football.

If the Colts don’t add to the offense in Round 1, the secondary is the likely avenue. In 2023, the Colts surrendered 84.7 receiving yards per game to opposing lead wideouts, the fifth-most in football. They also coughed up seven different 100-yard games to opposing receivers. This team needs more help on the perimeter, which makes Terrion Arnold and Cooper DeJean ideal fits. Arnold allowed just a 52% completion rate in coverage last year, while recording five interceptions and 13 pass breakups. He’s arguably the second-best defensive back in this class.

DeJean would also be a great fit in Indianapolis. He has a great feel in zone coverage, which the Colts ran at the highest rate in football a year ago (73%). DeJean also has starting experience at safety, which could give the Colts some versatility. Finally, if the Colts do move back in the first round, keep an eye on edge. Both Kwity Paye and Dayo Odeyingbo are free agents in 2025.

There are also a few wideouts I would love with the Colts if they address the position in the later rounds. Troy Franklin could very well be there at 46th overall, and he would also give the Colts an added speed element. But toward the end of the second round or into the third, I absolutely love the idea of Xavier Legette in this offense. Legette has an insane combination of size and speed, showcasing 4.39 speed at 6-1, 221 pounds. 33 of his 71 receptions last year gained 15-plus yards (46.4%), averaging 6.4 yards after the catch per reception. He was schemed a lot of touches at South Carolina and is a wideout you want to feature in an RPO-heavy system that utilizes plenty of slant routes. That is the Colts’ offense with Shane Steichen. According to FTN Data, the Colts ran RPOs 18.3% of the time last year, the highest rate in football. Legette has so much upside and would be really fun in this RPO-heavy, movement-based offense.

Team RPO Rate Rank Success Rate
Indianapolis Colts 18.3% 1st 43.9%
Cincinnati Bengals 11.3% 2nd 37.3%
Buffalo Bills 8.7% 3rd 48.5%
Philadelphia Eagles 7.4% 4th 51.2%
Los Angeles Chargers 7.1% 5th 46.2%

Houston Texans

  • First pick: 2nd round, 42nd overall
  • Total first-rounders: 0
  • Total selections: 9

Following an offseason trade with Minnesota, the Texans now don’t have a first-round selection. They do, however, have nine total selections, including 42nd, 59th and 86th overall. What a difference a year makes — suddenly, Houston looks like one of the better teams in the league and really doesn’t have a ton of holes on their roster. Wide receiver was absolutely a position they were looking at before trading for Stefon Diggs. And with Diggs now only on a one-year deal, it is possible Houston still addresses the position at some point in this draft. But in the first three rounds, I’d guess they take a long look at defensive back, defensive tackle and linebacker. But still, Houston signed Azeez Al-Shaair this offseason, as well as Foley Fatukasi, Mario Edwards and Denico Autry to the defensive line. Autry is on a two-year deal, but Fatukasi and Edwards are on just one-year deals.

Jacksonville Jaguars

  • First pick: 1st round, 17th overall
  • Total first-rounders: 1
  • Total selections: 8

Jacksonville is a pretty interesting team in the first round. At 17th overall, they are likely looking at wide receiver or defensive back, especially after losing Calvin Ridley and adding Mitch Morse this offseason. However, there are teams that are likely going to try trading ahead of Jacksonville to draft a wide receiver, so it’ll be interesting to see if someone like BrIan Thomas is available. If he is, that could easily be the selection, regardless of the team giving Gabe Davis a healthy contract. But this team also needs help in the secondary, which potentially makes their board very similar to the Colts. Terrion Arnold, Cooper DeJean and Nate Wiggins all make sense, especially with Tyson Campbell and Ronald Darby currently listed as the team’s top-two defensive backs.

I still believe Jacksonville will continue to add to the offensive line throughout the draft, especially the interior. The top pure guard in this class is probably Christian Haynes, but there are some players listed as tackle that will likely play plenty, if not mostly, at guard at the next level. Graham Barton is one of those players, though 17th overall might be a tad early for him. He could also play center despite the Morse signing. The Jaguars will also select a wideout at some point and if you look at the way their receiver room is constructed, they really need someone to make plays after the catch. I’d love Troy Franklin if he’s on the board for Jacksonville at 48th overall. Franklin was top-six in yards per route run last year and although his frame might concern some teams, his release speed helps him against press coverage. He also sells routes with an effective head fake and is really good at changing tempo to keep defenders off balance.

Tennessee Titans

  • First pick: 1st round, 7th overall
  • Total first-rounders: 1
  • Total selections: 8

For a while, wide receiver was firmly in play for Tennessee at seventh overall. But after giving Calvin Ridley a ton of money, the Titans have become a pretty easy team to pinpoint in this draft, at least in the first round. Barring a trade or anything crazy, I’d be pretty surprised if the selection isn’t Joe Alt from Notre Dame. Tennessee posted the league’s second-highest adjusted sack rate last season at 11.4% and while a lot of that is due to Will Levis’ awful pocket presence, this offensive line still clearly needs help. In fact, it needs so much help that the Titans could double dip at the tackle position in the first two rounds. And given how much they have added this offseason to find out if Levis truly is their franchise quarterback, I’d expect a similar approach during the draft. Kingsley Suamataia doesn’t have a ton of experience but is very athletic and did play right tackle in 2022, so it wouldn’t be crazy to see the Titans draft him in the second round following Alt. Given what we’ve seen from this team this offseason, this draft should be all about putting Levis in the best situation to find success.

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