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NEEDS FILLED — Houston checked off three of its biggest needs in the first two days of the draft, tabbing CB Kareem Jackson to replace Dunta Robinson, RB Ben Tate to complement Steve Slaton in the backfield, and DT Earl Mitchell to flesh out an underachieving interior of the defensive line.
NEEDS IGNORED — On Day Three of the draft the Texans appeared to follow the “top player on our board” mantra, which mean depth needs at wide receiver, safety, and offensive line went largely unaddressed.
BEST PICK — The Texans moved down in the second round, picking up an extra third-round selection, then bounced back up a couple spots to snare Tate. At minimum he projects to head up Houston’s backfield committee along with Slaton, but he’s big enough and versatile enough to perhaps handle a larger load should Slaton’s fumble problems and/or injury issues continue to plague him.
MISSED OPPORTUNITY — Joe Haden was the only cornerback off the board when the Texans made the 20th overall selection. The selection of Jackson kicked off a run at the position — five of the next 14 picks were corners — but the Texans’ board was apparently one of the only ones where Jackson ranked ahead of the likes of Kyle Wilson, Devin McCourty, and Patrick Robinson.
FANTASY RAMIFICATIONS — Tate might fly under some fantasy radars, but he should walk into at least a job share in Houston. Worst-case he’s splitting touches with Slaton and maybe Arien Foster, but best-case he’ll be the 15-20 touch-per-game leader of the Texans’ traditional committee. Houston also added a pair of intriguing tight ends in Garrett Graham (Round 4) and Dorin Dickerson (Round 7). Both should start the season behind Owen Daniels on the depth chart, but there are two caveats: those in redraft leagues should keep in mind that Daniels is coming back from a serious knee injury and watch Dickerson and Graham to see if either might have early value should Daniels not be ready by Kickoff Weekend; dynasty leaguers must be aware that Daniels will play this season on a one-year tender (assuming he signs it), so Dickerson or Graham might be the team’s future at the position.
NEEDS FILLED — The defending AFC champions have few gaping holes, so in typical Colts fashion they used their bottom-of-the-round picks to add football players who fit the team’s schemes: a speedy pass rush (first-round DE Jerry Hughes) and an undersized-yet-talented linebacker (Pat Angerer in Round 2).
NEEDS IGNORED — Conventional wisdom suggest the Colts would upgrade their offensive and defensive lines on draft day, but the Colts didn’t address either position until Day Three, throwing a fourth-round pick at OG Jacques McClendon and a seventh-round selection at DT Ricardo Matthews.
BEST PICK — How can you not appreciate the Colts reloading their pass rush with a Dwight Freeney type undersized end with plenty of speed off the edge?
MISSED OPPORTUNITY — Indy had multiple chances to give Peyton Manning some more protection but passed on athletic OT/OG Rodger Saffold in Round 1, project OT Jared Veldheer (from o-line coach Howard Mudd’s alma mater of Hillsdale) in Round 2, and athletic OT Bruce Campbell in Round 3.
FANTASY RAMIFICATIONS — The only “skill” position player the Colts drafted, TE Brody Eldridge, is known more for his blocking and may even be converted to a tackle at the NFL level. If you’re looking for a super-deep dynasty sleeper, though, consider WR Blair White; the Michigan State alum was a popular pre-draft sleeper candidate who signed with the Colts as an undrafted college free agent.
NEEDS FILLED — Jacksonville prepared for life after DTs Marcus Stroud and John Henderson with first-round surprise Tyson Alualu and third-rounder D’Anthony Smith, but waited until Round 5 to address their glaring need for pass-rushing help with the selections of Larry Hart and Austen Lane.
NEEDS IGNORED — Spending their only two picks of the draft’s first two days on defensive tackles left the Jags with several largely unaddressed needs, among them safety, linebacker, quarterback, and center.
BEST PICK — It’s easy to call the Alualu pick a reach, but the fact of the matter is that the Jaguars didn’t have a second-round pick (where there was a slim possibility he might have fallen to them) and were unable to deal down in Round 1. Alualu fits a need for the team and was a fast-riser who would not likely have made it out of the first 20 picks had Jacksonville passed on him at #10.
MISSED OPPORTUNITY — Among the players still on the board when Jacksonville picked in Round 3 that might have addressed some more pressing needs were safeties Major Wright and Chad Jones, linebackers Donald Butler and Rennie Curran, and center J.D. Walton.
FANTASY RAMIFICATIONS — Talk of the Jaguars looking to pair Maurice Jones-Drew with another back (possibly C.J. Spiller, had he not been picked just ahead of Jacksonville at #9) didn’t materialize until the Jags added Deji Karim in the sixth round. At best he could wind up as MoJo’s handcuff, but he’ll have to leapfrog Rashad Jennings to do so; even if he does, he doesn’t appear to be much of a threat to steal anything resembling significant carries.
NEEDS FILLED — The Titans appeared to be operating from the conventional wisdom draft board, or else their needs were just that obvious; their selections ran right down most of the pre-draft needs list, ticking off a pass rusher (Derrick Morgan in Round One), wide receiver depth (Damian Williams in Round 3), linebacker help (Rennie Curran in Round 3), and new blood in the secondary (CB Alterraun Verner in Round 4 and safeties Robert Johnson and Myron Rolle in Rounds 5 and 6, respectively).
NEEDS IGNORED — About the only roster area the Titans were expected to upgrade that they didn’t address was along the offensive line; none of their nine selections were spent on a big fella.
BEST PICK — Morgan may not have the flashy athletic potential of a Jason Pierre-Paul, but he’ll start for the Titans right away and hold up to the run as well as get after the passer. Third-round pick Curran might surprise as well, as the Tennessee linebacking corps is anything but set in stone.
MISSED OPPORTUNITY — It was somewhat surprising to see a run-first team like the Titans spend its second selection of the draft on a wide receiver, especially when they could have addressed a defensive backfield need with CB Brandon Ghee or taken a chance on talented yet enigmatic pass rusher Everson Griffen from coach Jeff Fisher’s alma mater, USC.
FANTASY RAMIFICATIONS — Rookie receivers rarely contribute. Titans receivers aren’t exactly fantasy stalwarts given their offensive scheme. So a rookie receiver for the Titans who will be hard-pressed to get on the field outside of four- and five-receiver sets doesn’t project to be much of a fantasy factor. Williams does have some long-term upside as a potential starter opposite Kenny Britt, but unless Tennessee undergoes a radical philosophy change he’ll still be a No. 2 receiver in a low-impact passing game.