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Old 03-19-2009   #1
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Default 37 Days to the Draft: AFC South holes

http://insider.espn.go.com/nfl/insid...ory?id=3995370

Since its an insider article I will post all four:

Quote:
Houston Texans
Biggest Hole: Outside Linebacker


The Texans' primary problem last season was on defense, and their run defense was particularly weak, 30th in the NFL in Football Outsiders' advanced DVOA ratings. The Texans have spent a great deal of money on their defensive line, including the addition of free agent defensive end Antonio Smith. But what about the next line of defense?
Brian Cushing
Scott Boehm/Getty ImagesCushing would fill a big hole for the Texans.

Two years ago, the Texans drafted DeMeco Ryans, who is a solid middle linebacker. Their two outside linebacker positions, however, are extreme problems. They released veteran Morlon Greenwood, who had been the starter since 2005 before losing his job this season. On the current roster are Kevin Bentley, Xavier Adibi and Zac Diles. Adibi was a fourth-round pick last season and is a talented player who should be left alone as the weakside linebacker.

Diles, a seventh-round pick in 2007, started the first half of last season before going down with a fractured tibia. Bentley is best left in a reserve role.

The Texans rarely gave up big runs but were consistently gashed for positive gains, and a stout, run-stuffing linebacker is desperately needed. The veteran free-agent market is not too promising, leaving mostly players who played in the Tampa-2 style, ranging from future Hall of Famer Derrick Brooks to part-time Colts starter Tyjuan Hagler. In the draft, the Texans would love for Brian Cushing of USC to fall to them. Cushing has ideal size and speed to pay strong side linebacker. If Cushing is gone, the Texans could take his teammate, Clay Matthews, who is riskier because his technique is less developed and he may be better suited for a 3-4 defense.
Indianapolis

Colts
Biggest Hole: Defensive Tackle


The Colts are set with Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis at the ends, but they have had a revolving door at defensive tackle. Through a combination of injuries and (in one case) off-the-field issues, the Colts have gone through Montae Reagor, "Booger" McFarland, Raheem Brock, Keyunta Dawson, Ed Johnson and Eric Foster as starting defensive tackles over the past three seasons.

In 2007, McFarland was injured, and the Colts unearthed an undrafted free agent rookie in Ed Johnson to pair with Brock. With Johnson and fellow second-year player Keyunta Dawson, the Colts thought they had a talented tandem going forward. After Week 1 of 2008, however, Johnson was arrested on a charge of marijuana possession and subsequently released by the Colts. To replace Johnson, the Colts called on this year's undrafted rookie, Foster.

Foster played admirably for a player of his size and pedigree, but the man weighs only 265 pounds. The Colts' overall run defense was adequate, but according to Football Outsiders' Adjusted Line Yards stats, they ranked 27th against runs up the middle and 30th in power situations.

The Colts do not believe in free agency, so they will have to look to the draft for a solution. In the past, the Colts have been reluctant to invest draft picks on defensive tackles. Dawson and Quinn Pitcock, a 2007 third-round selection who suddenly quit after his rookie season, are the only defensive tackles drafted by the Colts since 2003. However, the Colts are likely to emphasize run defense more under new defensive coordinator Larry Coyer. They will retain the Tampa-2 system, but the Colts may not be so averse to a defensive tackle who takes up space.

The dream scenario would be if Peria Jerry of Mississippi fell to them. Jerry has the quickness to be an ideal Tampa-2 defensive tackle, but he is much bigger than Foster. If Jerry is gone, the Colts would have to settle for Evander Hood, who lacks the quickness they would prefer at the position. In that case, the Colts might consider waiting for the second round to grab someone like Auburn's Sen'Derrick Marks.

Jacksonville Jaguars:
Biggest Hole: Cornerback


The Jaguars' offensive decline last season was much noticed because of the shocking number of injuries to the offensive line. The team's bigger problem, however, was on defense, especially against the pass, against which it was second-worst in the league, according to DVOA.
Malcolm Jenkins
Matthew Emmons/US PresswireJenkins may be the only option for the Jaguars.

The Jaguars have only a decent pass rush, but their coverage was abysmal. Top cornerback Rashean Mathis is overrated by some but certainly not the problem. Drayton Florence was a disaster and was eventually demoted to the nickel, with Brian Williams moving back from safety into a starting cornerback spot. Florence was released, leaving Mathis, Williams, and veterans Scott Starks and William James.

If Williams is returned to safety, as he should be, the Jaguars have a serious shortage. James and Starks should just be providing depth at this point in their careers. The Jaguars need to strengthen the position with a long-term investment through a first- or second-round pick. Mathis will be 29 years old before the season starts, and the Jaguars will likely want to shift him to be their second cornerback in the coming years. The only cornerback worthy of a top-10 pick is Malcolm Jenkins, who unfortunately may be more of a safety. His skills seem similar to those of Reggie Nelson, the Jaguars' current starting free safety.

The Jaguars could try to trade down for Vontae Davis of Illinois, who has outstanding physical skills. Trading out of the top 10 is difficult, and the Jaguars are likely going to have to take Jenkins or wait until the second round for a cornerback. Perhaps the availability of Mark Sanchez can get a team to take the plunge and make a trade with the Jaguars. Certainly, Jacksonville is one team for which quarterback is not a hole on the roster.

Tennessee Titans
Biggest Hole: Wide Receiver


The Titans released Derrick Mason in a cap-savings move after the 2004 season. Mason had just posted his fourth straight 1,000-yard season, and since moving to Baltimore, he has had three 1,000-yard seasons in four years. Mason ranked in the top 20 in Football Outsiders' DYAR stats every season from 2000 through 2004. Since he left, the Titans have had only one wide receiver ranked in the top 40 in DYAR, Justin Gage in 2007.

Following Mason's departure, the most yards by a receiver are the 750 gained by Gage in 2007. This past season, Gage led the team with 651 yards, while Brandon Jones had the most receptions by a receiver with 41. The two players with the most receptions were tight end Bo Scaife and running back Chris Johnson. Quite simply, the Titans cannot have an explosive offense with such limited playmakers.

The Titans' big foray into the free-agent market was to sign the Steelers' third receiver, Nate Washington. Washington has big-play ability, but he has never caught more than 40 balls in a season. Short of bringing in one of the two past-his-prime Pro Bowlers, Marvin Harrison or Torry Holt, the free-agent market is thin.

The Titans, with a good defense, good offensive line and good running backs, simply have to draft a wide receiver in one of the first two rounds. It is hard to project what receivers will be available late in the first round. Of the prospects around that area, perhaps the best fit is Brian Robiskie from Ohio State. Washington and Gage can both make plays down the field, leaving room underneath for Robiskie to develop into a valuable possession receiver.
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Old 03-19-2009   #2
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Default Re: 37 Days to the Draft: AFC South holes

/sigh

BSPN

So... They say our #1 need is linebacker because... Diles got hurt...

Maybe the Pats should take a QB in the first since Brady got hurt.

Maybe I was smoking something, but I seem to remember Diles leading the team in tackles, and all of our linebackers in Ints/Sacks before going down. I don't know, replacing your top performer seems rather... whats the word I'm looking for? Stupid?

Right now all we have at DT is Okoye who is a pass rushing 3 technique. Replacing our current rotation of backups at the NT spot with an actual starter is going to do more to stop the run than downgrading the OLB position. Seems like that would be our biggest need.
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Old 03-20-2009   #3
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Default Re: 37 Days to the Draft: AFC South holes

Quote:
Originally Posted by Goatcheese View Post
/sigh

BSPN

So... They say our #1 need is linebacker because... Diles got hurt...

Maybe the Pats should take a QB in the first since Brady got hurt.

Maybe I was smoking something, but I seem to remember Diles leading the team in tackles, and all of our linebackers in Ints/Sacks before going down. I don't know, replacing your top performer seems rather... whats the word I'm looking for? Stupid?

Right now all we have at DT is Okoye who is a pass rushing 3 technique. Replacing our current rotation of backups at the NT spot with an actual starter is going to do more to stop the run than downgrading the OLB position. Seems like that would be our biggest need.

It ain't stupid to me, I agree with their assessment. Without having to repeat what I've stated many times before, I'll just say we're too slow at the position and we need speed.
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Old 03-20-2009   #4
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Default Re: 37 Days to the Draft: AFC South holes

Adibi will provide speed.

I honestly don't see the Texans drafting any position and handing them the job other than RB2.

And if we bring in an outside LB I expect Diles to win the position against just about every rookie OLB that has been mentioned as being a possible choice for us. Zach is a whole lot better than people are giving him credit for. He was playing well when mostly everyone around him was playing like crap. I imagine that if he'd have remained healthy and been around when defense started to play at a better level then he'd have really gotten noteriety. But we'll see.

Last edited by Polo; 03-20-2009 at 09:42 AM.
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Old 03-20-2009   #5
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Default Re: 37 Days to the Draft: AFC South holes

i actually agree with goatcheese. i think a LB trio of adibi, demeco & diles is a pretty good unit. obviously there are health & experience doubts withboth olb's but is it a 1st round need?

that being said i still dont know who i want @ #15 yet but im not in love with any of the olb's. im still leaning toward a maybin/everette brown type player tbh although we also another stout DT, LB depth, another cb possibly and a safety
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Old 03-20-2009   #6
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Default Re: 37 Days to the Draft: AFC South holes

Adibi, Demeco & Diles = weak, undersized unit that will get steamrolled with two weak, undersized Tackles in front of them....one reason we suck so bad stopping the run.
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Old 03-20-2009   #7
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Default Re: 37 Days to the Draft: AFC South holes

I'd be curious to know if any of the other 31 teams (minus the 3-4's) have OLB as a 1st round need? I can't remember seeing any mock that has another 4-3 team taking one. It could be possible that we could trade way back, maybe even out of the 1st completely and still get a guy we like. It seems to me that the team has positioned itself to really have quite a few options with that first pick.

I don't see LB as a need but that doesn't mean I wouldn't mind improving the position with two question marks on both sides. At worst, we end up with terrific depth with Bentley, Thompson and either Diles, Adibi or Rookie waiting in the wings.
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Old 03-20-2009   #8
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Default Re: 37 Days to the Draft: AFC South holes

Quote:
Originally Posted by barrett View Post
I'd be curious to know if any of the other 31 teams (minus the 3-4's) have OLB as a 1st round need? I can't remember seeing any mock that has another 4-3 team taking one. It could be possible that we could trade way back, maybe even out of the 1st completely and still get a guy we like. It seems to me that the team has positioned itself to really have quite a few options with that first pick.

I don't see LB as a need but that doesn't mean I wouldn't mind improving the position with two question marks on both sides. At worst, we end up with terrific depth with Bentley, Thompson and either Diles, Adibi or Rookie waiting in the wings.
I could see Buffalo taking a OLB.

Maybe Atlanta and the Giants too but they pick behind us.
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Old 03-20-2009   #9
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Default Re: 37 Days to the Draft: AFC South holes

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vinny View Post
Adibi, Demeco & Diles = weak, undersized unit that will get steamrolled with two weak, undersized Tackles in front of them....one reason we suck so bad stopping the run.
Comparatively speaking, Adibi is the only one in the front seven that is noticeably undersized.

Everyone else is about the average size of 4-3 players playing at there positions around the leauge.
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Old 03-20-2009   #10
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Default Re: 37 Days to the Draft: AFC South holes

Quote:
Originally Posted by Polo View Post
Comparatively speaking, Adibi is the only one in the front seven that is noticeably undersized.

Everyone else is about the average size of 4-3 players playing at there positions around the leauge.
Adibi is undersized for a WLB but no less than Diles @ SLB. ideally you would like more length out of both positions, which translates into sheding blockers, filling gaps, wrapping up in run support & dropping in coverage.
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Old 03-20-2009   #11
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Default Re: 37 Days to the Draft: AFC South holes

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vinny View Post
Adibi, Demeco & Diles = weak, undersized unit that will get steamrolled with two weak, undersized Tackles in front of them....one reason we suck so bad stopping the run.
Which is why I think a 320+ lbs NT to anchor the line is the #1 need.

Diles is 6'0 240 and runs a 4.75. Cushing is 6'3 243 and runs a 4.70.

Is 3" 3 lbs and .05 in the 40 really our #1 need? Is it reason enough to try and replace your most productive linebacker?
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