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2009 NFL Draft - Team Needs Report - AFC South
The Sports Xchange
April 20, 2009
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Houston Texans

TEAM NEEDS: Outside linebacker, defensive tackle, running back.

OLB -- The Texans already signed Cato June to compete with Xavier Adibi on the weak side, but they still need a big playmaker to compete for a job on the outside. Zac Diles is slated to start on the strong side, but he and Adibi each dealt with injury issues last season. While DeMeco Ryans is established in the middle, the Texans really want to add some power and punch on the outside.

DT -- The Texans have two first-round draft picks -- Amobi Okoye and Travis Johnson -- slated to start but they have not been the most effective in the middle the last few seasons. They need an instant impact at this position. Preferably, they'll find someone capable of stopping the run who can also get off the ball fast and get after the quarterback.

RB -- The Texans are still seeking a complement to Steve Slaton. They want a bigger back, one who has the ability to spell Slaton but also carry the ball on a consistent basis as needed. He will ideally get fewer than 10 carries a game, but he will fit well in the zone-blocking system and be able to bully his way for extra yards in short yardage and goal-line situations.

Indianapolis Colts

TEAM NEEDS: Wide receiver, defensive tackle, linebacker, running back, cornerback.

WR -- With Marvin Harrison gone and the jury still out on backups Roy Hall and Pierre Garcon, the Colts need to find a big-play receiver to help get the usual high-scoring offense back on track. Indianapolis likes receivers who are smart, disciplined and also seasoned route runners.

DT -- Getting bigger along the defensive line continues to be a goal. The Colts need to bolster both their physicality and size up front without giving up athleticism and speed. While the Colts are still gauging the cost to get that type of player in the draft, there are indications that there are a couple of defensive tackles in the draft pool fitting that description.

LB -- Improve the overall depth at all three linebacking positions. Indianapolis is always looking for playmakers with speed over sheer size, especially at weak-side and strong-side linebacker. Finding a dependable backup to middle linebacker Gary Brackett would be good, especially considering he is returning from a lower leg injury that sidelined him for the last month of the regular season in 2008.

RB -- Questions abound at running back for the Colts. If veteran Dominic Rhodes does not return, Indianapolis is left with Mike Hart, who continues to rehab from knee surgery, along with Chad Simpson and Lance Ball to serve as backups to starter Joseph Addai. Both Simpson and Ball showed some ability late last season, but additional depth would be good.

CB -- While Kelvin Hayden returns after signing a contract extension in the offseason, Marlin Jackson and Michael Coe both continue to recover from knee surgeries. Top backup Keiwan Ratliff is an unrestricted free agent and has not been re-signed as of yet. Tim Jennings played well at times last year but needs to develop more consistency. Dante Hughes has yet to emerge and could be passed on the depth chart if the Colts find a player they view as a better fit in this draft.

Jacksonville Jaguars

TEAM NEEDS: Wide receiver, defensive tackle, cornerback, offensive tackle, running back.

WR -- When a team elects not to bring back three of its top five receivers from the year before, it creates a big hole. When the two returning receivers are only mediocre, that hole becomes a huge void. Veteran Dennis Northcutt and unproven Mike Walker would currently line up as starters for the Jaguars and that isn't likely to put much fear into opposing defenses. If the Jaguars don't take Michael Crabtree with their first-round pick, look for them to go after multiple receivers later in the draft.

DT -- Rob Meier didn't get the job done last year when trying to replace Marcus Stroud next to John Henderson. As a result the Jaguars had virtually no pass rush up the middle and had a tough time stopping opposing ball carriers. Meier was more valuable as a fill-in for the latter two in previous years. The Jaguars rank this position as the most pressing need on defense. If Boston College's B.J. Raji and wide receiver Crabtree are both available to the team at the No. 8 pick, the Jaguars might have to flip a coin.

CB: The plan of bringing in Drayton Florence as a free agent was a miserable failure. He lasted one season and took his $13 million guaranteed money and left town. The Jaguars are still in search of a replacement. They can move Brian Williams back to that position but that leaves a void at safety. This is another "must-fill" spot for a team that has too many such voids.

OT: The Jaguars found a replacement for Khalif Barnes at the right tackle spot by signing free agent veteran Tra Thomas. But he's on the downslide of his career and at 34, will only have one or two seasons left. The Jaguars would love to find a mid-round tackle that can learn under Thomas and then take over some time in 2010.

RB: When the Jaguars released Fred Taylor, the obvious choice was to move Maurice Jones-Drew into the featured role. But that created an opening behind him. Greg Jones can fill that spot, but he's battled injuries in the past and hasn't been a featured back since his college days. Chauncey Washington carried the ball only four times in his rookie season.

Tennessee Titans

TEAM NEEDS: Wide receiver, cornerback, linebacker, defensive line.

WR -- The Titans have only two receivers they can rely upon at the present time -- holdover Justin Gage and newcomer free agent Nate Washington, who was a third receiver and deep threat with the Steelers. The possibility of signing veteran Torry Holt after the draft exists, but that is certainly no guarantee. Beyond that, the Titans have gotten virtually no contribution from recent draft picks like Paul Williams, Chris Davis and Lavelle Hawkins, and will certainly look to bolster this area with one and perhaps two receivers on draft weekend. Their history at receiver suggests that they mine the middle rounds, hoping to strike it rich with a player who develops a la Derrick Mason or Justin McCareins. More often than not, though, they have found only fool's gold using that strategy.

CB -- The Titans are fine with their starters in Pro Bowl cornerback Cortland Finnegan on one side and veteran Nick Harper on the other. And they liked Vincent Fuller's work as the nickel cornerback enough to re-sign him to a three-year deal. Beyond that? It's sketchy at best for the Titans who have only recent signee DeMarcus Faggins and second-year man Cary Williams. Look for the Titans to draft at least one cornerback this year, and perhaps use a high pick to get a future star. Harper has had injuries the

past two seasons, and at 34 and coming off groin surgery, is not a lock to play 16 games. Finding a capable backup is a must.

LB -- The starters are solid and steady, if not star quality, especially with Keith Bulluck and David Thornton on the outside. Stephen Tulloch is emerging in the middle, and despite being on the short side at 5-11, has a natural knack for finding the ball carrier and the ball. Behind them however, there are only unproven players and mostly special teamers. Ryan Fowler, a former starter in the middle, is the best of the lot. With Bulluck and Tulloch both free agents to be in 2010, addressing the future of this position should be done now rather than later.

DL -- Like the linebacking corps, the Titans feel pretty good about what they have now, even with losing Albert Haynesworth in free agency. But this is another area that could be ravaged by free agency at year's end. Three-fourths of the starting defensive line -- Kyle Vanden Bosch, Jevon Kearse and Tony Brown -- are all entering the last years of their respective contracts. A defensive end and perhaps a tackle is certainly a possibility on draft day. If a player like Missouri's Evander "Ziggy" Hood were on the board at their pick, it might be hard for the Titans to say no, even with bigger needs at other positions.


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