By: Ryan Goudy
(Round 3, Pick 4) S Justin Reid, Stanford- The Texans needed to get a really good safety in this draft. With Mathieu and Reid in the secondary this year, their safeties should be solid. Reid is a dynamic playmaker, that can play in the box, and he is good in coverage.
(Round 3, Pick 16) OL Martinas Rankin, Mississippi State- Rankin is an interesting pick. He can play all 5 positions, but probably slots best as a backup center. This fills a need, but he is more of a jack-of-all-trades player. He is a master of none.
(Round 3, Pick 34) TE Jordan Akins, UCF — Akins is another strange pick. With the retirement of CJ Fiedorowicz, the Texans needed a blocking tight end. They drafted a 26 year old tight end that doesn’t block really well. He is very similar to Stephen Anderson, who is already on the roster.
(Round 4, Pick 3) WR Keke Coutee, Texas Tech- The Texans needed more weapons, and got a solid backup for Will Fuller. They did need an outside receiver, so Coutee is a solid option. He also isn’t a great route runner, so trying to slide him in may be difficult if he fails outside.
(Round 6, Pick 3) DE Duke Ejiofor, Wake Forest- The Texans needed more pass rushers, and Ejiofor fits that bill. When they lost Whitney Mercilus and JJ Watt last year, the Texans struggled to get the quarterback. They added a player that can come in and play year one if needed.
(Round 6, Pick 37) TE Jordan Thomas, Mississippi State- As I mentioned earlier, the Texans needed tight end help. They drafted another tight end with limited blocking ability. He is a freak athlete and a former basketball player, but rough around the edges. This is more of a project pick.
(Round 6, Pick 40) LB Peter Kalambayi, Stanford- Again, the Texans need help getting to the quarterback. This pick is a linebacker who is good at doing just that. Kalambayi is a smooth pass rusher, but didn’t show a ton of growth throughout his career. He can contribute on special teams, which may be where he finds his niche.
(Round 7, Pick 4) CB Jermaine Kelly, San Jose State- Kelly is a relatively unknown player. He really only played two years of college football, and only had one interception. Kelly needs to have a good camp to make the team.
The Texans filled a big need at safety. Getting a top 5 safety, Justin Reid, in the third round is a good value. They were able to add some pash rush help which was needed as well. I would have liked to see them get a tackle, but there weren’t any of value left when they were ready to pick in the third round. Also, a corner that could play right away would would have been helpful. But they were able to address some needs, without having a pick in the first two rounds.
Obviously, the best pick they made was Justin Reid. He is a smooth player, much like his brother Eric. He will be a plug and play upgrade immediately over what they had at the position last year. The most puzzling pick was the selection of Jordan Akins. Tight end was a need coming into the draft. The problem is that they picked a player who had an identical skill set as other tight ends already on the roster. Combine that with the fact that he is going to be a 26 year old rookie, the pick doesn’t make a ton of sense.
Final Draft Grade: B-
(Round 1, Pick 6) G Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame- The Colts made the easy pick, and they got one of the best 3 players in the draft. Nelson is an athletic guard, who can step in and be one of the better guards in the league right away. This should help solidify the inside on the offensive line, and allow Andrew Luck some time in the pocket.
(Round 2, Pick 4) OLB Darius Leonard, South Carolina State- While outside linebacker was a need, the Colts seemed to have reached in this spot. Leonard is a good player, but he is someone they could have selected with one of their later 2nd round selections in all likelihood. He does however give them a player who is a good athlete, and he should compete for playing time right away.
(Round 2, Pick 5) G Braden Smith, Auburn- GM Chris Ballard made it a point to take physical players early in the draft. While they just resigned Jack Mewhort, this is a pick that makes a lot of sense. Along with Nelson and center Ryan Kelly, the interior of the offensive line just got much better. Smith is a player who excels in the run game, something the Colts needed to refine this offseason.
(Round 2, Pick 20) Edge Kemoko Turay, Rutgers- This is another pick where it seems to be a bit of a reach. Turay is a good player, and fills a pass rushing need. However, he was injured frequently during his time at Rutgers. In a weaker “edge” draft, this pick could pay off if Turay can stay healthy.
(Round 2, Pick 32) DL Tyquan Lewis, Ohio State- The Colts doubled down at positions of need in this draft. The former Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year should compete right away for playing time. Lewis is a good pass rusher, and has the ability to slide inside and rush from the tackle spot.
(Round 4, Pick 4) RB Nyheim Hines, NC State- Hines gives the Colts a running back different from any that they have on the roster. He is a home run threat and a big play specialist. He also is a 3rd down back, as he played some slot at NC State. He should fill an immediate need for them as a pass catching back.
(Round 5, Pick 22) WR Daurice Fountain, Northern Iowa- Wide receiver was a big need coming into the draft, and they get a good player here. Fountain looks the part of an NFL receiver, both in stature and athletically. While he is a bit raw, he is someone that should come in and be able to compete for time as a WR3 or WR4. He will be a special teams contributor as well.
(Round 5, Pick 32) RB Jordan Wilkins, Mississippi- Wilkins joins Hines as a shotgun style pick. The Colts are hoping that one of them hit and can contribute. He is a one cut back, who doesn’t offer much after contact. However, he did average 7.1 yards per carry against SEC defenses. He should also be a special teams contributor.
(Round 6, Pick 11) WR Deon Cain, Clemson- Getting Cain this late in the draft is a steal. He is a big receiver, that offers a changeup from TY Hilton and Chester Rodgers. He may contribute more than Fountain in year one, as long as he can be a little more sure handed as a pro.
(Round 7. Pick 3) LB Matthew Adams, Houston- Adams is another one of the athletic linebackers that the Colts are taking a chance on. He posted average production at Houston totaling 14 tackles for loss in the last two years. If he can contribute on special teams, he stands a chance of making the roster.
(Round 7, Pick 17) LB Zaire Franklin, Syracuse- Franklin is a shorter linebacker, but one that comes with some solid production in college. At Syracuse, he tallied 266 tackles in the last three years, including 26.5 for loss. He probably has a better chance of making the roster than Adams. However, like Adams, needs to cut his teeth with special teams to make the team.
It is hard to not like getting a top 3 player at pick six, however, with the additional picks gained for trading back, the rest of the draft is a bit lackluster. The Colts took players to fill needs, but reached on many of them. Turay could be a boom or bust type pick if he can stay healthy. With the running backs available in the 2nd round, I would have liked to see them select one there.
Deon Cain in the 6th round could end up being the steal of the draft for the Colts. While he is a bit of a home run receiver with some questions about his hands, he could be a year one contributor. The least favorite pick is Darius Leonard. Not because Leonard is a bad player, but when they picked him there were other better players available. They could have taken Derrius Guice, then Leonard later in the 2nd Round.
Final Draft Grade: B
(Round 1, Pick 29) DT Taven Bryan, Florida- Bryan was a pick for the future. With a front seven loaded already as it is, they are going to have to make decisions in the coming years with cap space. Bryan won’t be rushed onto the field, and he will be allowed to develop. Being in a competitive environment will get the most out of Bryan.
(Round 2, Pick 29) WR DJ Chark, LSU- The Jaguars had a need for a bigger receiver who can get vertical. Chark fits that need. While he will have to work on his hands, as well as route running, his speed cannot be doubted.
(Round 3, Pick 29) S Ronnie Harrison, Alabama- Harrison is a thumper, and he can stop the run. Being able to learn and eventually take over for Barry Church is a perfect situation for him to be in. This pick, much like Taven Bryan, was made for the future not so much the now.
(Round 4, Pick 29) OT Will Richardson, NC State- Richardson is a mauler, and has the ability to slide into guard if need be. He has some off the field concerns which caused him to fall in the draft. As long as he stays clean off the field, he could be a started at right guard.
(Round 6, Pick 29) QB Tanner Lee, Nebraska- The Jaguars needed a quarterback to compete with Blake Bortles, instead they drafted Tanner Lee. He has a chance to stay in the league as a backup, but he doesn’t have starter upside. Lee has a good arm, but that is about it. He plays with loose mechanics and tends to put himself in bad situations.
(Round 7, Pick 12) Edge Leon Jacobs, Wisconsin- While inside linebacker was more of a need, Jacobs can play special teams as well. If he can continue to get better, he could be a situational pass rusher. He has experience playing inside, and would fit with the athletic linebackers already on the roster.
(Round 7, Pick 29) P Logan Cooke, Mississippi State- Cooke averaged 42.7 yards per punt. He also was used as a kickoff specialist, with a 58.9% touchback percentage. He will be the punter this year.
This draft is one in which the Jaguars spent more capital building for the future rather than competing now. While they had a need at inside linebacker to fill, they were able to continue to build a stable of front seven players. They also needed to get a serviceable quarterback to compete with Blake Bortles.
My favorite pick of the draft was Ronnie Harrison in the 3rd round. Harrison was a top five safety, and they were able to get him in the 3rd. He will learn, and be able to slide into Barry Church’s role. He is a thumper that fits in the physical smack talking defense. The pick I liked the least was Tanner Lee. Lee is not a QB that will offer much, and will be lucky to make the team. He will be a practice squad player, and doesn’t fix the need.
Final Draft Grade: B+
(Round 1, Pick 22) LB Rashaan Evans, Alabama- Evans fills a huge need for the Titans. Evans is a leader, a true alpha dog, that will set the tone for the defense. As Mike Vrabel starts to build an identity for his defense, this pick says they are going to be physical and fast. Evans will be a day 1 starter in the league.
(Round 2, Pick 9) Edge Harold Landry, Boston College- Medical red flags kept Landry from going in the 1st Round. However, his ability to get the QB can’t be understated. He is one of the most natural pass rushers in the draft. Landry has a high floor, and at worst, could be a 3rd down pass rusher for years to come.
(Round 5, Pick 15) S Dane Cruikshank, Arizona- Not a huge need for the Titans, but Cruickshank is a box style safety with good speed. He is a willing hitter, which fits into what Vrabel is looking for in his safeties. He can be a talented special teams player, and that should get him on the field during his rookie season.
(Round 6, Pick 25) QB Luke Falk, Washington State- Falk could be the steal of the draft. He will be a good backup, and he has starter upside. One of the more accurate quarterbacks in the draft, Falk also has gotten rave reviews about his extremely high football IQ.
This was a great draft for the Titans despite having only 4 picks. They were able to move around and get players that can have an impact in year one. Evans and Landry are both players that will have a big impact. They fit perfectly into Vrabel’s defense and will be effective immediately. It is hard to critique any of their picks too much, but it would have been nice to get one more weapon for Marcus Mariota.
Landry in the 2nd Round is my favorite pick that they made. They needed edge help, and got one of the better ones in the draft. If he can stay healthy, he can be special. Cruikshank is my least favorite pick. While he could be a box safety, he was brought in to be a special teams weapon. If he can affect the game on special teams, it will be a good way to keep his spot on the roster.