Houston hopes it upgraded its offensive line by drafting a pair of offensive linemen
After every NFL draft, sports journalists tend to give draft grades, dive into the analytics of each draft pick, and sometimes make season predictions based on draft selections alone. But at the end of the day, each team goes into the draft with an objective in mind. These objectives range from team improvement to adding depth or perhaps replacing a star player.
When all is said and done each team has achieved some type of goal or objective once the seven rounds have concluded. Here is what each AFC South team accomplished with their selections in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Objective Achieved: More protection for DeShaun Watson
After taking a league-high 62 sacks in 2018, the Texans made an investment in their offensive line, especially when it comes to preventing the outside pass rush. Houston used its first-round selection (23rd overall) on Alabama State offensive tackle Tytus Howard and then grabbed Northern Illinois tackle Max Scharping 32 picks later.
Objective Achieved: Reinforcements on defense
With Andrew Luck healthy again the Colts offense is almost back to normal. In the draft, however, the focus was on the other side of the ball. Using seven of their 10 picks on defensive players, Indianapolis added to all three levels in drafting defensive end Gerri Green (Mississippi State), linebackers Ben Banogu (TCU), Bobby Okereke (Stanford), and E.J. Speed (Tarleton State), as well as defensive backs Rock Ya-Sin (Temple), Kharl Willis (Michigan State), and Marvell Tell (USC). Collegiate production doesn't always translate to the next level, but it should be pointed out that these players combined for 1,230 tackles alone during their careers. If the defense takes a step forward and offense can maintain its level of performance, then the Colts should be a legitimate challenger to the Texans in the AFC South.
Objective Achieved: Insurance policy for Nick Foles
The Jags gave Foles $88 million in order to move on from Blake Bortles. Then they used their sixth-round pick (178th overall) to add his potential backup, Washington State's Gardner Minshew. A graduate transfer from East Carolina, Minshew made the most of his one season leading the Cougars' offense. He led the country in passing yards (4,779), attempts (662), and completions (468), while also finishing among the top four in touchdown passes (38) and completion rate (70.7). Minshew was a big reason why Washington State stayed in the Pac-12 North race until the very end and went 11-2 overall. He must make the adjustment from Mike Leach's Air Raid to a pro-style system but don't be surprised if Minshew is No. 2 on the depth chart before the season is over.
Objective Achieved: Addressed pass rush
The Titans were a top-eight defense last season in terms of both yards and points allowed even though they were merely middle of the pack when it came to sacks. Looking to upgrade the pass rush, Tennessee used two of its six picks on guys from the SEC who made their presence felt on the field last season. The Titans' first-round pick (19th overall) was used on Mississippi State tackle Jeffery Simmons, who may not even play this year due to a knee injury. The team also selected Georgia linebacker D'Andre Walker in the fifth round (168th). Walker led the Bulldogs and was eighth in the SEC with 7.5 sacks last season. Tennessee also took West Virginia linebacker David Long Jr. with their last pick at No. 188 overall (sixth round). The Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, Long led the conference with 19 tackles for a loss and also recorded 7.0 sacks.
— Gabe Salgado is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. He's also written for NBC, Fox, The Sporting News, The Sports Journal, The Undefeated and Complex. He's a co-host of The Rewind Sports: 60. Follow him on Twitter @GabeSalgado82.
(Top photo courtesy of @levelstothis_2)