The AFC South has not been a powerhouse as of late and the Houston Texans might still be a bit off from competing. But the Tennessee Titans are always a threat, the Indianapolis Colts just got a new quarterback, and the Jacksonville Jaguars went on the biggest free-agent spending spree of any team in the league. The odds are pretty tight as far as who Vegas likes to win the division so perhaps their picks in the 2022 NFL draft will be the deciding factor in the final rankings.
In this article, we are going to look at each team and lay out what they have for draft picks. Then we’ll look at where they are set (unlikely to use high draft capital), where they have immediate draft needs (likely to use a pick in the first 2-3 rounds), or where they might need depth (mid to late-round picks). So let’s get to it.
Houston Texans - 10 Picks
- First Round: 3, 13
- Second Round: 37
- Third Round: 68, 80
- Fourth Round: 107, 108
- Fifth Round: 170
- Sixth Round: 205, 207
Quarterback - Now, Nick Caserio did say that no position is off the board in this draft and that includes quarterback. And pretty much every position on the team right now could be considered a “need”. But, if I’m the Texans, I’m building this team from the inside out and seeing what I have in Davis Mills first. If the team is bad once, you’ll have a high pick again with a much better quarterback class next year.
Running Back - Placing running back here might be a controversial choice but I see a team right now that needs to reset and start from the ground up. Running back is the shortest shelf life position in this league - there are only two starting running backs in the league older than 27 years old (Derrick Henry and Cordarrelle Patterson). And we’ve seen rookie running backs contribute right away as well. So the prudent move in my opinion is to build the team from the inside out first and then take a luxury pick like running back down the road when you are ready to compete. You have Marlon Mack, Rex Burkhead, Dare Ogunbawale, Royce Freeman, Scottie Phillips, and Darius Anderson as well as two fullbacks so it’s not like they need a depth pick either.
Wide Receiver - As with my logic at running back, I don’t think now is the time for a wide receiver. It’s a luxury pick and the second contracts are expensive so you want the rookie deals to overlap with your window to compete. The Texans are tied for the worst Super Bowl odds in the league so I’m focusing on things from the inside out. The Dolphins for instance tanked in 2019 then didn’t bring in Willer Fuller and Jayden Waddle until 2021 and are now fully poised to compete in 2022 after bringing in Tyreek Hill. Hopefully, it doesn’t play out over that amount of time but I’d go after wideout next year at the earliest.
Immediate: Offensive Tackle, Defensive End, Secondary
Offensive Tackle - There has been much discussion about the original Laremy Tunsil trade and whether it would make sense to trade him away but, even assuming he is the long-term plan at tackle, the Texans could immediately transform their line by drafting another high end one this year. There just so happen to be three great prospects this year in Evan Neal, Charles Cross, and Ikem Ekwonu so one is guaranteed to be there if that’s the way they want to go.
Defensive End - This is an interesting one and it might depend on how much they love the guys at the very top. On one side, they have to at least feel pretty decent about Jonathan Greenard managing eight sacks in only 12 games. On the other side, they could use help after losing Jacob Martin. This year’s draft is not only stocked with high-end pass-rushing talent but it’s actually pretty deep too. They could take whoever is there out of Aidan Hutchinson, Kayvon Thibdeaux, or Travon Walker. But offensive tackle isn’t as deep so, if they go with edge rush, they might miss out on the top tackles. If they go OT first, they could still land someone like George Karlaftis or Jermaine Johnson at pick 13. So I think the safe play here is to take the OT and then go best available at 13 and hope you get both.
Secondary - They realistically could use both cornerback and safeties so “secondary” is more applicable. And there are some high-end guys in this year’s draft. At corner, Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner and Derek Stingley could both be stand-out studs. And Kyle Hamilton is arguably the best safety prospect we’ve seen in years. Would not be shocked to see them take any of these guys at either three or thirteen if they really love the players. Unlike some teams, they actually have a rock-solid guy in the slot in Tavierre Thomas so I don’t see them going the “hybrid route” - I think they either take a true outside corner or a true high safety.
Potential early round picks: T Evan Neal (Alabama), T Charles Cross (Mississippi State), Ikem Ekwonu (NC State), T Aidan Hutchinson (Michigan), T Kayvon Thibodeaux (Oregon), DE Travon Walker (Georgia), DE George Karlaftis (Purdue), DE Jermaine Johnson (Florida State), Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner (Cincinnati), CB Derek Stingley (LSU), S Kyle Hamilton (Notre Dame)
Depth: Interior Offensive Line, Interior Defensive Line, Tight End
Interior Offensive Line - This could end up being a high-end pick too - they really should be going “best available player” in this draft. But the interior offensive line also isn’t at a premium in drafts so you can find suitable players later on down the board. And they pretty much have to do something as they only have four on the roster and Max Scharping is set to both start and be a free agent next year.
Interior Defensive Line - Pretty much the same situation here as the interior O-line. There are only two prospects that are really projected to go in the first round (both oddly from Georgia). And both are expected to go after Houston’s two first-round picks but before their second. In fact, if Travis Jones from UConn isn’t there, in the second, they might as well wait until the third. So even though they could certainly boost things up the middle, I don’t see them going this route in the first unless they trade back.
Tight End - At the top of the depth chart they have Brevin Jordan as a pass-catcher who they drafted last year as well as Pharaoh Brown who skew blocking. Then you have a pure blocking tight end in Antony Auclair but that’s about it. So they could use some depth, possibly in the form of a “move” tight end or “big slot” tight end that can contribute in the passing game since you already have two big-bodied blockers.
Indianapolis Colts - 7 Picks
- Second Round: 42
- Third Round: 73
- Fourth Round: 122
- Fifth Round: 159, 179
- Sixth Round: 216
- Seventh Round: 239
Set: Quarterback, Defensive End, Inside Linebacker
Quarterback - They made the big move to get Matt Ryan and they don’t even have a first-round pick so this simply is not the year to take a quarterback.
Defensive End - Defensive end is another premium position that requires early draft capital - they have bigger needs and little high-end capital. Good thing they stocked up with Kwity Paye and Dayo Odeyingbo in the draft as well as Yannick Ngakoue in free agency.
Inside Linebacker - With Darius Leonard and Bobby Okereke, they are looking pretty solid for starters. This defense is technically a 4-3 but they run so much nickel it’s more of a 4-2-5 so not really a dramatic need.
Immediate: Wide Receiver, Offensive Line
Wide Receiver - With the Texans above, we talked about how they technically “need” wide receivers but it might not be wise to draft one this season. That Colts to me are in the opposite boat. You just trade for a quarterback who will turn 37 this season. You have a starting split end in Michael Pittman and you might have a slot wide receiver in Parris Campbell if he can stay healthy. You only have seven wide receivers under contract. I honestly could see them trading up if the right guy is there. If they don’t draft a high-end wide receiver who can contribute right away, I fully expect them to be in the market for guys like Will Fuller, Julio Jones, Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry etc. after the draft. They NEED a flanker.
Offensive Line - If the Colts picked within the first half of the first round, perhaps this category would be “offensive tackle”. But they don’t so they don’t really have that luxury. What they can/should do, is take the best available offensive line prospect available to them and then figure out where he fits later. The Jets did this with Alijah Vera-Tucker who played both guard and tackle in college. Kenyon Green is a guy like that in this draft who could end up being there at 42 (though many have a first round grade on him). Otherwise, you might just want to take the best college tackle at 73 and have him battle it out to see if he wins a job or kicks inside to guard. Right now they have Quenton Nelson who is the best in the business but they only have three guards total signed which obviously isn’t close to enough. In fact, there is only one team with fewer than ten total offensive linemen signed. So they are doing something.
Potential early round picks: WR Chris Olave (Ohio State), WR Skyy Moore (Western Michigan), WR Treylon Burks (Arkansas), WR Jalen Tolbert (Southern Alabama), WR John Metchie Alabama), T/G Kenyon Green (Texas A&M), T/G Luke Goedeke (Central Michigan), T/G Zach Tom (Wake Forest), T/G Jamaree Salyer (Georgia)
Depth: Tight End, Running Back, Cornerback
Tight End - They lost Jack Doyle who was a force within the run game. Mo Alie-Cox is set to hopefully pick up that slack. Kylen Granson and possibly even Eli Wolf can contribute in a Trey Burton-esque slot/move tight end role but they might want to start taking stabs on a tight end in the middle to late rounds to see if they can hit on something. Tight ends take a while to develop typically due to the dual nature of the position so the earlier you get started on that process the better
Running Back - At the top of the depth chart, they have arguably the best back in the league in Jonathan Taylor as well as a reliable third-down back in Nyheim Hines. But the only other guy signed is Deon Jackson and three RBs simply are not enough. They need to fill out the position.
Cornerback - This position would have been listed under “immediate” had they not signed Stephon Gilmore. But, in the modern era of nickel and dime packages, you can never have too many corners. So it’s not off the table for them to go after a second CB or a slot corner. I just don’t expect it to be a high-end pick.
Jacksonville Jaguars - 12 Picks
- First Round: 1
- Second Round: 33
- Third Round: 65, 70
- Fourth Round: 106
- Fifth Round: 157
- Sixth Round: 180, 188, 197, 198
- Seventh Round: 222, 235
Set: Quarterback, Running Back
Quarterback - Trevor Lawrence is the man. Sure we saw the Cardinals draft Kyler Murray after drafting Josh Rosen but Trevor Lawrence isn’t Josh Rosen. Trevor Lawrence in this draft class would be the top prospect by a country mile.
Running Back - Given how James Robinson players, running back in the first was honestly a surprise pick last year. Now they have Travis Etienne, Robinson, and Ryquell Armstead as well as two other bodies to fill out depth. Not a need.
Immediate: Edge, Offensive Line, Linebacker
Edge - It’s no secret the Jags are interested in an edge rusher at one. The secret is who it will be. We’re here to discuss needs more than trying to predict exactly who it will be but there has been a lot of smoke regarding Georgia’s Travon Walker, who is now the betting favorite to go first. Aidan Hutchinson is the other option as Kayvon Thibodeaux seems to have fallen by the wayside a bit.
Offensive Line - I use offensive line here because the Jaguars are in a flexible enough situation that they can realistically draft the best lineman available at 33 whether that is a center, guard, or tackle. Center is arguably their weakest position so they could slot in right away there. Brandon Scherff is their shiny new right guard but a rookie could compete with Ben Bartch right away. If they get the right tackle, they could slide Jawaan Taylor over to guard or a lot of college tackles end up starting at guard in the NFL while they gain experience. A lot of options here so no season to pigeonhole themselves into a specific role. Just play it as it lies.
Linebacker - This was a bigger need prior to the signing of Foye Oluokun from Atlanta but they still lack a lot of high end talent here. Specifically, they could improve over Shaquille Quarterman as the weakside linebacker. They only have five linebackers under contract total as is so they probably need to do something at some point, even if it’s not early.
Potential early round picks: T Aidan Hutchinson (Michigan), DE Travon Walker (Georgia), C Tyler Linderbaum (Iowa), T Bernhard Raimann (Central Michigan), G Zion Johnson (Boston College), T Trevor Penning (Northern Iowa), T/G Kenyon Green (Texas A&M), ILB Nakobe Dean (Georgia)
Depth: Tight End, Wide Receiver, Secondary
Tight End - They signed Evan Engram to an expensive one-year deal and they had Dan Arnold to back him up as a pass-catcher. Chris Manhertz is a reliable blocking tight end and Luke Farrell is still there. Realistically they have what they need to get the job done but might want to carry a fifth tight with a later pick. Engram, Arnold, and Manhertz are all free agents after this year.
Wide Receiver - After spending all that money in free agency it’s hard to suggest they “need” wide receiver. Between Marvin Jones, Christian Kirk, Zay Jones, and Laviska Shenault they have what they need. But this is also a deep class and both Joneses only have a year left on their deal so might not hurt to add competition.
Secondary - With Shaq Griffin, Tyson Campbell, and Darious Williams, they are actually looking pretty decent on the high end. They could use some depth behind those guys though. Same with safety as Andrew Wingard, Rayshawn Jenkins, and Andre Cisco are solid but Wingard is a free agent next year and, if possible, they might want to try to get out of that Jenkins contract sooner rather than later. He’s a fine player but maybe not worth what he’s making.
Tennessee Titans - 7 Picks
- First Round: 26
- Third Round: 90
- Fourth Round: 131, 143
- Fifth Round: 169
- Sixth Round: 204, 219
Set: Defensive End, Safety
Defensive End - Jeffery Simmons is the shining example of proper scouting - he tore his ACL right before the draft and had a questionable video come out but the scouts got it right and the guy is a stud. With Denico under contract for a couple of years on the other side, they did a good job here.
Safety - Kevin Byard was the highest-graded safety in the league last year per Pro Football Focus and Amani Hooker was third. That would make them the best safety duo in the league. They need to find a way to extend Hooker but the position is not a glaring need.
Immediate: Offensive Line, Edge, Nose Tackle
Offensive Line - This is yet another potentially flexible situation as we don’t know for sure what their plan is at certain spots. Specifically, with last year’s second round pick Dillon Radunz. He played a little bit of guard, a little bit of tackle, but didn’t crack the starting lineup really as a rookie. Taylor Lewan is set at left tackle but their thoughts on Radunz will likely dictate which direction they go on the offensive line in terms of whether they go for a right tackle or a left guard. But what they do
Edge - This hurts because, with Harold Landry and Bud Dupree, they were supposed to be set for the next few years. But Dupree hasn’t really lived up to the hype in terms of getting to the QB so it might be wise to grab someone who is a pure pass rusher to rotate in this year. If he pans out, you can potentially find a way to install him full time and move on from Dupree.
Nose Tackle - Defensive end looks good but they could use someone stout up the middle. At pick 26 the best interior lineman out there in either player from Georgia or Travis Jones could be available.
Potential early round picks: T Berhard Raimann (Central Michigan), G Zion Johnson (Boston College), T Trevor Penning (Northern Iowa), T/G Kenyon Green (Texas A&M), DT Devonte Wyatt (Georgia), DT Jordan Davis (Georgia), DT Travis Jones (UConn)
Depth: Quarterback, Tight End, Running Back, Wide Receiver
Quarterback - I’m going to put this position here because it’s not necessarily an immediate need with Ryan Tannehill but there have been some rumblings that the Titans might take a stab on a quarterback. And I don’t think that’s a crazy idea in a class some are touting as “weak” which could allow some of the best guys from this class to slide to a manageable range. Tannehill is a free agent in 2024 so it might not hurt to bring in some competition to see if you can improve. After all, that’s what the draft is for right?
Tight End - Honestly, Austin Hooper might end up a steal. The problem wasn’t that he was bad but that Cleveland overpaid him making him a cap casualty. But what if Baker Mayfield is just bad? Right now they have Hooper who is solid, Swaim who is solid, and then four other depth tight ends behind that. Maybe they take a stab at the position or maybe they just extend Hooper.
Running Back - As we mentioned earlier in this article - there are only two starting running backs in the league older than 27 - Derrick Henry and Cordarelle Patterson. D’Onta Foreman did a good job last year as the backup but he was picked up by the Carolina Panthers. Dontrell Hilliard is solid and Trenton Cannon can contribute on pass downs but four RBs is just not enough. Lightening the workload for King Henry would be a good thing at this stage.
Wide Receiver - At first glance, it doesn’t look so bad but Robert Woods is coming off a torn ACL and might not be ready to go to start the season. I wouldn’t necessarily go crazy with a high-end pick but some depth certainly wouldn't hurt.