Matt Williamson has reviewed every player addition and every roster deletion in a large-scale run thorough of the AFC, grading all offseasons.
Here’s a rundown of some of what he had to say about the AFC South.
Tennessee Titans -- B
Williamson on Delanie Walker, Justin Hunter, Blidi Wreh-Wilson, George Wilsonand Bernard Pollard: “New additions Walker and Justin Hunter have suspect hands, but both can really run for their respective positions and should give Jake Locker a plethora of downfield weapons to go along with very good protection. Can Locker take a step forward with this improved supporting cast and live up to his potential? That is the biggest question surrounding this organization.
“On the other side of the ball, Blidi Wreh-Wilson gives the Titans needed cornerback depth and Wilson and Pollard (although he struggles in coverage) should give Tennessee much more of a presence from the safety position. A little more could have been done on the defensive line, but the Titans were busy this offseason and really didn't lose very much.”
To which I say: The defensive line could be OK as is, considering linebacker Akeem Ayers will contribute to the pass rush.
Indianapolis Colts -- B-minus
Williamson on Gosder Cherilus, Donald Thomas, Hugh Thornton, Bjoern Werner,Erik Walden and Ricky Jean-Francois: “The additions of Cherilus and Thomas should give Indianapolis four quality starting offensive linemen, with a possible hole still remaining at the guard spot opposite Thomas (Hugh Thornton could potentially fill that guard spot in his rookie season). Such an improvement up front should do wonders for Andrew Luck, who was hit far too often in his outstanding rookie season.
“I don't see Bjoern Werner or Walden making Colts fans forget about Freeney, but they are good scheme fits for this Ravens-like defensive system with Werner having much more pass-rushing ability than Walden. This scheme needs versatile defensive linemen, which Jean-Francois provides.”
To which I say: Who’s on the offensive line and how they come together will be a big storyline through the preseason.
Houston Texans -- C
Williamson on departed Glover Quin, Ed Reed, D.J. Swearinger, J.J. Watt, Sam Montgomery, Trevardo Williams, Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins
“While I think Quin is currently a superior player to Reed, this is a franchise that needs the leadership that Reed will provide. Reed, a future Hall of Famer who is coming fresh off a Super Bowl victory, is an ideal leader and will be an excellent role model for the talented D.J. Swearinger. But health is a concern with Reed right now. Up front, Houston needs more pass rush than it got in 2012 outside of J.J. Watt. The drafting of Sam Montgomery and Trevardo Williams could help.
“On offense, Houston desperately needed a complement to Andre Johnson. DeAndre Hopkins might not be the biggest or fastest prospect, but he is NFL-ready and is exactly what Houston needs right now at the position. However, this will remain a run-first offense.”
To which I say: The Texans have usually given big opportunity and gotten big contributions from their top draft pick. Hopkins will have the same story.
Jacksonville Jaguars -- C
Williamson on Terrance Knighton, Roy Miller, Brandon Deaderick, Kyle Love, Paul Posluszny, Jeremy Mincey, Jason Babin and Andre Branch:
“The defense got much more attention as the Jaguars more or less rebuilt their secondary from scratch, following Seattle's blueprint of sizable cornerbacks and physical safeties. There are sure to be growing pains on this back end, though. In the middle of their defense, Knighton is gone, but Miller and two former Patriots -- Deaderick and Love -- are all space-eating types that should control the middle well against the run and allow Paul Posluszny to better get to the ball carrier with more freedom, but none offers much in the pass-rushing department.
“Jacksonville's pass rush was one of the worst in the NFL in 2012 and the Jaguars did very little to address that problem. However, on paper, the threesome of Jeremy Mincey, Jason Babin and Andre Branch isn't a bad group. Those three could be much more productive in this new defensive system than they were one year ago and Mincey could be primed to make a difference as an interior rusher on throwing downs.”
To which I say: I am less confident than Williamson about how Mincey fits in and what he might do in this defense.