AFC South Draft Grades

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Tennessee Titans 
Tennessee Titans have been disappointed for awhile with the team a performance of late. Even the rushing stats took a hit under the first year head coach Mike Munchak. I think they addressed the odfensive line with big Chance Warmack from Alabama. Kid is massive and if anyone saw Manti Teo’s lowlights on ESPN, Warmack was the guy continuously climbing up on him every play. He moves well for his size and is accustomed to the zone rushing attack Tennessee will use with Chris Johnson. He has opened the way for guys like Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson, and Lacy. Warmack has the ability to be a consistent staple on the Titans line for years to come. They added former Volunteer wideout, Justin Hunter to a decent receiving core headed by Justin Britt. Hunter has the ability to go up and get the ball at its highest point and beat corners deep. They addressed needs at corner and linebacker with Blidi Breh-Wilson and Zavier Gooden, respectively. Brian Schwenke will help out the center position, while Lavar Edwards will be looked upon to add depth to the defensive line.
Overall Grade: B

Indianapolis Colts 
The Colts became firm that the Peyton Manning era was over, after they selected Luck with the second pick in last years draft. After a surprising playoff birth, the Colts looked to build upon last years success with a couple of intricate picks. Colts added German born Seminole, Bjoern Wergner. I was impressed with his athletic ability at Florida State and has real high motor. I believe he will add a decent pass rush to team that had a hard time getting to the quarterback in 2012. One of the biggest problems the colts had was not the ability to get to the quarterback, but to protect their own. They added depth with selections of Khaled Holmes and Hugh Thornton who both can play multiple positions on the line. Montorri Hughes can be a huge asset if he proves he has matured after being dismissed from Tennessee, which forced him into the FCS. If developed, can be a nice piece at a 4-3 nose tackle spot.

Overall Grade: C


Jacksonville Jaguars 
The Jaguars had one of my favorite drafts this year. They added a franchise building player with Joeckel, who I thought would go number one, and they added plenty of speed to one of the slowest rosters in the league. Hopefully with a stable left tackle, the Jags can develop Gabbert the way they want too. I’m still not sold on Gabbert and many looked for them to take a quarterback, which they kind of did when they drafted Dennard Robinson. He was announced as a runningback/returner but don’t be surprised if  he ales a couple of snaps at quarterback in the Pre-season. Remember, the Jags went through the same process with matt Jones who was a quarterback at Arkansas, before becoming a capable wideout for them. They also added dynamic returner Ace Sanders, who is guy I liked watching at South Carolina. Denfensively, they added plenty of secondary ep and tremendous ball hawker in FIU standout, Johnathan Cyprien. He can cover like a corner on slots, and play a the eighth man in the box. They drafted two corners, another safety to add depth. They are probably nowhere near contending for the AFC South crown, but this draft seems (for the moment) to be a promising start.
Overall Grade: B

Houston Texans 
The Texans finally broke last year and headed into this off season in a unfamiliar role, adding assets not rebuilding. They add DeAndre Hopkins to an already explosive offense. He will line up opposite of perennial All-Pro, Andre Johnson at receiver. Safety DJ Swearinger from South Carolina, is a hard hitter who will eventually replace Ed Reed but look for him to make an impact on all special teams. Texans also add a potential pass rusher with Sam Montgomery from LSU. great player, great athleticism but (along with Mingo) was listed by Les Miles as someone who does not always work hard. Trevardo Williams at linebackers gives them great value for the 124th pick as a linebacker. I also like Quessenberry from San Jose St. At the guard/tackle spot.
Overall Grade: B


AFC South Projections

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Houston Texans–  The Texans are one of the NFL’s best teams.  They have a dominant run game with Arian Foster and Ben Tate.  To go along with a dominant run game, they a good passing game.  The Texans have the best wide receiver in the NFL in Andre Johnson.  On defense the Texans can stop the run and have a formidable pass rush.  The Texans have all the ingredients to make the Super Bowl and they are my pick to win the super bowl in 2013.

Prediction 13-3

Tennessee Titans – The Titans are one of the teams that could surprise a lot of people this year.  Their running game will be rejuvenated this year and Chris Johnson will once again be an elite NFL running back.  They have a great young wide receiving core with Kenney Britt, Kendall Wright, and Damian Williams.  Their young wide receiving core should help second year quarterback Jake Locker be successful.  On the defensive side of the ball the only concern I have is how they will replace pro bowl cornerback Cortland Finnegan who signed a contract with the St. Louis Rams.

Prediction 11-5

Indianapolis Colts – The Colts are in a complete rebuild mode right now.  They lost the greatest player in franchise history in Peyton Manning.  However, the Colts just drafted Andrew Luck the top quarterback in the 2012 NFL draft.  They then went on to draft two tight ends to give in Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allan.   The Colts offense will probably be pretty stagnant next year do to all the youth they have on the field.  The Colts defense will be much worse then there offense this year.  They are switching  to a 3-4 defense and don’t have the best personnel for this defense.  However, the colts could have a good pass rush it depends on how well Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis adjust to playing OLB.

Prediction 4-12

Jacksonville Jaguars – The Jaguars have the worst starting quarterback in the NFL right now in Blaine Gabbert.  Blaine, the second year quarterback from Missouri, looks scared in the pocket, which stops him from making accurate throws.  The only positive on their offense is their ability to run the ball with Maurcie Jones Drew. The Jacksonville defense was the 9thbest defense in the NFL this past year.  The defense will have to keep them in games and for them to win they will need to hold the opposing team to under 10 points.

Prediction 4-12

Connor Willsey

Brotherly Love (The Mannings)

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Before comparing Eli Manning to his older brother Peyton, we must take a step back from the Super Bowl this week.

Eli Manning.  What words do you immediately think of when you think of Eli? Perhaps you perceive Eli Manning as Peyton’s younger brother, nothing more, nothing less. Maybe you think of Eli as that guy who miraculously wiggled out of a sack three times in one play, scrambled outside the pocket, and launched a prayer down the field in Super Bowl 42 that was eventually snatched by some no-name, obscure wide receiver with the help of a helmet and some stick ‘em glue. Or maybe you think of Eli Manning as Archie Manning’s son.

Perhaps, just maybe, it’s time for you to think about Eli Manning as a 2 time Super Bowl Champion, 2 time Super Bowl MVP, the most successful quarterback in road playoff games in NFL history, future hall of famer, and the best Manning to ever play the game of football. Yeah, I said it.

"Wait so I'm second best?" Picture from:

Eli’s brother, Peyton, is the greatest regular season quarterback in NFL history. There’s no other quarterback that’s ever played the game that I would rather have than Peyton Manning if the goal were to go 13-3 every year and earn the number 1 seed in the postseason. Under Peyton’s reign, the Colts set an NFL record by winning 12 or more regular season games for 7 consecutive seasons.

But the goal isn’t to own the regular season, fill up the stat sheet, and set a myriad of statistical records. The goal, as in every sport, is to be the last team standing at the end of the year with the title of champion. Period. Just look at Dan Marino. If Marino were able to bust through just once and hoist the elusive Lombardi Trophy, he would likely be regarded as the greatest quarterback in NFL history.

During his illustrious NFL career, Peyton Manning has played in 19 playoff games, all as a member of the Indianapolis Colts. His record in those games in 9-10, hardly anything worth significant merit. Manning has a career postseason passer rating of a pedestrian 79.7.

While the Colts did breakthrough to win the Lombardi trophy in the 2006-2007 season under Manning’s direction, Peyton had a mediocre showing in the postseason. During the Colts run to the title in the ’07 playoffs, Manning threw 7 INT’s and only 3 TD’s. He sported a passer rating of an underwhelming 61.7.

Manning and the Colts again reached the Super Bowl in 2009 after a record setting 14-2 season. However, Peyton failed to win his second ring as he threw a crucial interception in the waning minutes to seal Indy’s fate.

Manning did have an exceptional 2009 postseason (9 TD’s, 1 INT), however many believe Peyton choked in what many dubbed as the most important game of his career. If Peyton doesn’t throw the pick to Tracy Porter and the Colts win Super Bowl 44, Peyton Manning is the greatest quarterback of all time.

Eli, on the other hand, seems to shine brightest when the pressure is on. Eli boasts extremely impressive career playoff numbers (21 TD’s, 7 INT’s) and is 8-3 as a starter in the postseason. He’s also tied for most game-winning drives in NFL playoff history with the great Joe Montana. Oh, and he’s won the Super Bowl…twice, both times against the mighty Patriots.

This is Eli at his finest. Notice under 2 minutes left in fourth quarter.

Not only is Eli one of the most clutch players to ever play the game, he’s one of the most consistent players in the NFL today. The Giants have not had a losing season since Eli Manning has been the starting quarterback for New York.

There is no doubt in my mind; Peyton Manning is a first ballot hall of famer. No questions asked. However, he doesn’t have the hardware that his brother Eli does. Before you make your decision, I’ll ask you this: who would you rather under center with two minutes left in the game, trailing by 4? To me, the answer is obvious: it’s Eli.

Tyler Howard