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Which AFC South Team Improved the Most During the Offseason?

Will Brock Osweiler become a star in Houston? Will the Jaguars' defensive acquisitions make them contenders? What do the Titans need heading into the draft?
Photo by Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

With most impact free agents already signed, it's time to re-evaluate where each team stands in the divisional pecking order heading into the draft. The AFC South had two of the four teams that doled out huge contracts in free agency. Have they actually improved, and will that be enough to bring down a presumably healthy Andrew Luck?



Returning: TE Marcedes Lewis, QB Chad Henne

New Additions: DL Malik Jackson. LT Kelvin Beachum, CB Prince Amukamara, FS Tashaun Gipson, RB Chris Ivory, P Brad Nortman, OL Mackenzy Bernadeau


Lost: DL Andre Branch, OT Sam Young

Jacksonville brought in a lot of defensive talent. I think they could still use a true edge rusher. Their optimal pass-rush strategy may now involve stacking five players in the B-gaps. But this is by far the best secondary they've ever had.

Bringing in Beachum as insurance to two-year dud Luke Joeckel was also smart if the idea was to push for Gus Bradley's job this year. Getting rid of the third-round punter they drafted over Russell Wilson is a good idea if only for the fact that we'll forget it happened.

I think this team will look better next year, but they still have some areas of concern.

Biggest remaining holes: linebacker, true edge rusher

The Jaguars will have a talented front if they can walk away from their first-round pick with Joey Bosa or Carl Lawson. Dante Fowler's rookie year was lost due to ACL surgery, but that's a promising bookend pass rush.

I'm surprised to see Paul Posluszny still considered a starter, as I don't think he fits on passing downs. Dan Skuta wasn't exactly a superstar last year either.

Super Bowl winning Malik Jackson should help shore up the Jaguars' defensive line. Photo by Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports



Returning: RB Jonathan Grimes, OT Chris Clark, K Nick Novak, P Shane Lechler

New Additions: QB Brock Osweiler, G Jeff Allen, RB Lamar Miller, OL Tony Bergstrom, DB Antonio Allen

Lost: G Brandon Brooks, G/C Ben Jones, S Rahim Moore, LB Justin Tuggle

If you believe the Texans got a for-sure upgrade in Brock Osweiler, go ahead and upgrade them to stock up. I am not quite there. I think Osweiler has more promise than any quarterback Bill O'Brien has had to work with so far. But I don't think he'll pan out as a star-level quarterback or anything close to that.


Miller is a huge upgrade on the few games of Arian Foster the Texans got last year, but I think they take a net loss on the offensive line. It's not exactly hard to replace Ben Jones, but the Texans haven't shown much of an ability to create that line. Perhaps Clark could start and move tackle Derek Newton inside.

Biggest remaining holes: secondary wideout, tight end, defensive end

Houston had declared interest in bringing back end Jared Crick before free agency, but that market seems dead. Wideout Cecil Shorts wasn't healthy or good last year. Third-round pick Jaelen Strong wasn't given a real chance to replace him and got caught smoking weed during the offseason.

Tight end is a black hole for this team, but this isn't a great draft for that. I'd expect wideout to be the best fit for the Texans near the end of the first round.


Returning: OL Byron Bell, NT Al Woods, TE Craig Stevens

New Additions: RB DeMarco Murray, C Ben Jones, WR Rishard Matthews, ILB Sean Spence, QB Matt Cassel, DB Antwon Blake, DB Brice McCain

Lost: DB Coty Sensabaugh

DeMarco Murray as a star running back is a salvageable commodity. And it's not like the Titans were going to find someone else to take their money, so there's no real risk from that standpoint. It's just far from a sure thing, which is about how I feel for most of their big additions.

Rishard Matthews will be a big upgrade on Harry Douglas and the rest of the garbage Titans receiving corps from last year. But is he a true No. 2? I don't think so. Ben Jones is a better center than Brian Schwenke has been — and a healthier one to boot. But he's more of a stopgap than a true upgrade.


Biggest remaining holes: tackle, defensive end, inside linebacker, safety

Cutting Michael Griffin was necessary. The Titans have yet to provide us with a better player, or even a stab at one. Jeremiah Poutasi was a disaster at tackle last year. You can see why most folks are projecting the Titans to wind up with tackle Laremy Tunsil or safety Jaelen Ramsey with the No. 1 overall pick.

They could also use some better defensive line pieces and a fix at inside linebacker, where neither Avery Williamson or Wesley Woodyard were of much help last year.

DeMarco Murray will try to revive his career with the Titans. Photo by Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports



Returning: K Adam Vinatieri, TE Dwayne Allen

New Additions: QB Scott Tolzien, RB Robert Turbin, RB Jordan Todman

Lost: TE Coby Fleener, S Dwight Lowery, LB Jerrell Freeman

To be clear, the only big piece the Colts lost was Freeman — but he's a much bigger loss than you might think. Indianapolis was dangerously weak up the middle last season with him. Fellow inside linebacker D'Qwell Jackson handles like a garbage truck.

And it was confusing because the Colts had cap space coming into the offseason. They even were able to get some veterans to take pay cuts. They have added nothing. They're like the Packers if the Packers had no in-house talent to replace anybody that was leaving.

Biggest remaining holes: offensive line, defensive back seven

Indy has Vontae Davis, Anthony Castonzo, Darius Butler inside, and Jack Mewhort if he gets to play guard. Every other player in these two units is below average. Asking Nate Irving to replace Freeman is a major stretch. Neither Trent Cole, Robert Mathis, or Erik Walden are reliable edge rushers at this point of their careers. Clayton Geathers might be able to fill the void at safety, but they have no established secondary corner.

The interior offensive line is pure wishcasting right now. This, on paper, is another bad Colts team that will need to be driven almost solely by Luck and the passing game.