Rashaan Evan, Linebacker, Tennessee Titans
2018 NFL Draft NFL Sports

NFL Draft: Grading The AFC South First Round Picks

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The NFL Draft is officially a week old. National and local pundits and fans are still abuzz, with teams moving up and down the board, making trades, acquiring picks and making plans for the future. The NFL Draft is the greatest stock market spectacle in all of professional sports.

The AFC South brought in some solid talent that could shape the future of this division. The Houston Texans did not have a first-round pick, having traded it to the Cleveland Browns for Deshaun Watson last year. I’d say Houston made the right call.


Here is a look at the division and who each team picked in the first round and a grade for their effort.

Houston Texans – No first round pick

It was certainly worth the Texans giving up this year’s first round pick to move up to the 10th spot in last year’s first round.

Deshaun Watson was everything Houston thought he would be as a rookie until an injury took him out of action.

If Watson comes back this season and plays on the same level as he did in his short apprenticeship last year, Houston is going to be a team in the AFC South title hunt.

Sometimes teams must give up a lot to get a lot.

Grade – Incomplete

Indianapolis Colts – Quentin Nelson, Guard, Norte Dame

The Colts landed the best offensive lineman in the draft by trading back with the New York Jets. Nelson is one of those players you stick at guard and he plays for the next 10 to 12 years.

Indianapolis has plenty of questions heading into the season. Will Andrew Luck be ready? Can this team score more than 10 points a game? How will new head coach Frank Reich transition to lead this team?

Whether it is Luck or Jacoby Brissett, Nelson gives Reich a solid piece of the puzzle to build around.

There were other options, including trading back. But at this spot, the Colts got a future Hall of Famer.

Grade – A

Jacksonville Jaguars – Taven Bryan, DT, Florida

I like this pick for many reasons. Jaguars did have other holes to fill at tight end, at tackle or guard and at linebacker. But the team chose a player with the future in mind.

Team general manager David Caldwell said that Bryan was the highest rated player on their draft board at a time. He will be eased into the rotation, with the idea of getting at least 25 snaps a game. That’s impressive given who already plays for this team. He can eventually replace somebody like a Marcell Dareus or move outside. If Bryan is as good as he was at the Combine and in workouts, the Jaguars got a steal this late in the first round of the NFL Draft.

Grade – B

Tennessee Titans – Rashaan Evans, Linebacker, Alabama

I thought Evans was the best linebacker in the NFL Draft. I also thought the Titans we’re shrew d in selecting somebody they can plug in the middle of their defense and will be there for the next decade.

Evans has the ability to play both inside and outside, and should help Tennessee’s defense in stopping the run. He’s also athletic enough to cover a running back out of the backfield or a tight end across the middle.

Grade – A

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