Publish date:

NFL Scouts Talk Anonymously About AFC South Teams

IndianapolisColts_offensiveline_2014.jpg
Image placeholder title

The AFC South was very unbalanced last season, with the Colts and Texans well ahead of the Jaguars and Titans. Indianapolis has dominated the past two seasons, and they don't seem to be in any type of regression this year. They have the only truly established quarterback in the division. With the Colts as the favorite, can any of the other teams compete with them? Will the Jaguars and Titans get better, or will they finish near the bottom of the NFL again?

In order to get an accurate assessment of how the AFC South breaks down entering the 2015 season, Athlon asked NFL scouts to talk anonymously about the Texans, Colts, Jaguars and Titans.

Note: These scouting reports come directly from NFL scouts and do not necessarily reflect the views of Athlon's editorial staff. 

Houston Texans

Image placeholder title

“In his first season, Bill O’Brien managed a difficult QB situation and rode the Texans’ opportunistic defense to nine wins last year. Ryan Fitzpatrick moved on to the NY Jets, so they signed Brian Hoyer from Cleveland and will now have two quarterbacks with New England ties battling for the position."…

"Maybe the greatest Texan in club history, WR Andre Johnson departed in free agency and will face his old club twice a year as a member of the Colts."…

"DeAndre Hopkins took over as the No. 1 receiver last fall and he will get support from newly acquired Cecil Shorts (from the Jaguars)."…

"RB Arian Foster ran for 1,246 yards and eight touchdowns, but missed three games, and that allowed Alfred Blue to sub in and gain 528 yards of his own. Foster’s injury history is always a concern, but Blue showed the ability to be a competent stand-in, if something happens long term."…

"The offensive line did enough to help Houston rank fifth in rushing (135.1 yards per game) and tied for fourth in fewest sacks allowed. LT Duane Brown has proven himself to be a quality NFL player, while second-round pick Xavier Sua’Filo is expected to become a starter at LG this year."…

"Despite not getting anything from No. 1 overall choice Jadeveon Clowney, defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel maximized the use of all-world DE J.J. Watt and he dominated with 20.5 sacks, five fumble recoveries and a pick-six. He is truly a special player and arguably the top player in the league."…

"Clowney had microfracture surgery, so his effectiveness and long-term impact will be questioned until he can get on the field and prove himself."…

"The Texans signed Vince Wilfork to be part of their rotation and train up last year’s third-round pick, Louis Nix."…

"LB Brian Cushing continues to play at a high level, but Whitney Mercilus has been just OK in his first three years."…

"CB Kareem Jackson was re-signed before he hit the market and Jonathan Joseph has been a solid addition for GM Rick Smith."…

"They drafted Wake Forest CB Kevin Johnson in the first round as the future at the position."…

"’QB and Clowney sum up the major questions for the Texans to surpass nine wins in 2015. O’Brien can figure out the first part in time, but many have serious concerns about Clowney living up to his draft status as an available, big-time player.”

Indianapolis Colts

Image placeholder title

“Chuck Pagano has a 33-15 record through three seasons with the Colts, yet he will go into 2014 on the last year of his deal."…

"You get the sense that everyone here feels the pressure of advancing one more step to the Super Bowl and anything short of that goal will result in major coaching staff changes."…

"With that said, they used Pagano’s University of Miami background to sell RB Frank Gore and WR Andre Johnson on the idea that this is a team ready to win a ring. Gore continues to defy the odds at his age and with significant knee issues earlier in his career, while Johnson should have enough left to take some of the onus off T.Y. Hilton, one of the most exciting and productive players in the NFL."…

"Watch out for WR Donte Moncrief, the third-rounder from Ole Miss, who flashed as a rookie with 32 receptions and three touchdowns."…

"And yet, they had a curious first-round selection in Miami speedster, Phillip Dorsett."…

"The tight end group is very solid with Dwayne Allen, Coby Fleener and Jack Doyle."…

"The offensive line is adequate at best with no dominant player in the starting five."…

"The central figure for the entire organization is Andrew Luck. He is a transcendent talent that makes every responsibility of being a QB look easy, on and off the field."…

"Every level of the defense could use a boost."…

"Upfront, they will use a ‘wave’ of defensive linemen."…

"They are hoping DE Robert Mathis can return to form after missing 2014 with a suspension and Achilles tear."…

"Former 2013 first-round choice Bjoern Werner had four sacks last year, but must continue to improve as a rusher."…

"Trent Cole was signed during free agency, but he’s on the back nine of his career."…

"Jonathan Newsome quietly came around as the 2014 season unfolded with 5.5 sacks in the final eight games."…

"The corners are better than average with a pass rush and when healthy. The trade for Vontae Davis has worked out well and people inside the building really like Greg Toler."…

Recommended Articles

"Safety is a huge hole on their depth chart and they passed on Alabama’s Landon Collins in the draft."…

"The hope is that between the veteran and rookie additions this offseason, it will be enough to advance the Colts another rung up the ladder and Pagano will continue as their coach.”

Jacksonville Jaguars

“Owner Shad Khan appears to be in lockstep with head coach Gus Bradley and GM David Caldwell, but after a 3-13 season in 2014, the urgency to take a big step forward is there for this next season."…

NFL Power Rankings: Jaguars

"Bradley has done an impressive job of keeping the team’s focus and energy high, but the truth is, the results must improve and almost the entire operation is riding on QB Blake Bortles."…

"Originally, they planned to let him sit behind Chad Henne, but that lasted all of three weeks and the No. 3 overall pick in 2014 was inserted into the lineup. With rookie receivers, no legitimate running game and a porous line, Bortles did well to survive with 11 touchdowns and 15 interceptions."…

"The Jags found three rookie receivers in Marqise Lee, Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns that should develop on the same track as Bortles."…

"At TE, they spent a boatload on free agent and former Bronco Julius Thomas and Marcedes Lewis re-upped, so they should be set there."…

"OT Luke Joeckel bounced back from appearing in only five games as a rookie and opened all 16 in 2014. A capable line is in the works with LG Zane Beadles and RG Brandon Linder."…

"Second-round pick RB T.J. Yeldon should be an instant starter and will pair off with Denard Robinson."…

"Greg Olsen is the new offensive coordinator and he is charged with pulling this group out of the bottom of the barrel (31st in yards and 32nd in points)."…

"Defensively, they spent the third pick in the draft on Florida's Dante Fowler Jr. and he will be a star player in the league."… [Editor's note: Fowler is out for the season after tearing his ACL during rookie minicamp.]

"This unit has made incremental strides under Bradley and Bob Babich, but they have been woefully short in terms of having difference-making talent."…

"DT Sen’Derrick Marks tore an ACL in the last game of the season, but he is an underrated player and along with Tyson Alualu and newly signed FA Jared Odrick, this group should be better."…

"LB Paul Posluszny is a steady-Eddie, while Telvin Smith proved to be a nice late-round pick in 2014."…

"CB Aaron Colvin returned from a pre-draft knee injury to play in the final six games and should line up opposite of Dwayne Gratz or Davon House, who was signed from Green Bay."…

"Jonathan Cyprien and Sergio Brown will man the safety spots."…

"It’s obvious things intensified with ownership after the season, because it felt like Bradley was forced to rebuild his offensive staff."…

"The bottom-line here is that the Jags had a minus-26 sack differential, despite the defense having 45, which tied for sixth in the league.”

Tennessee Titans

Image placeholder title

“After the Buccaneers selected Jameis Winston as the No. 1 overall choice in this year’s draft, the entire league focused on what the Titans would do at No. 2."…

"Now, we know the answer, they opted to stay put and pick Marcus Mariota and will attempt to get him up to speed as fast as possible in terms of transitioning from the spread he ran at Oregon to a more traditional NFL offense."…

"Jake Locker was a free agent, but retired unexpectedly, and Zach Mettenberger went 0-6, before going down with a shoulder last season, so the Mariota pick really makes sense."…

"RB Bishop Sankey was disappointing as a rookie (569 yards/3.7 ypc/2 TD), but part of his struggles were tied to an underachieving offensive line that should be improved in 2014 with Taylor Lewan firmly entrenched at left tackle, a healthy rebound from Andy Levitre at LG and Chance Warmack rounding back into shape at RG."…

"They signed Byron Bell from Carolina in the second wave of free agency as a stop-gap fix at RT."…

"TE Delanie Walker has more to give with better QB play, he caught 63 passes and four touchdowns despite the passing game issues last year."…

"The Titans do not have a legit No. 1 wide receiver, however, they do have hope for the continued development of Kendall Wright (57 rec./6 TD) and Justin Hunter (28 rec./17.8 ypc/3 TD) and drafted former Missouri WR Dorial Green-Beckham (6-5, 237), who hasn’t played since 2013 due to off-field issues."…

"Ken Whisenhunt has to fix an offense that finished 30th in points (15.9 per game) and 31st in third down conversions (30.1 percent)."…

"Dick LeBeau arrives from Pittsburgh and will orchestrate the defense even though Ray Horton has the coordinator title."…

"Tennessee added three free agents of note in former Redskins pass rusher Brian Orakpo, Bills safety Da’Norris Searcy and 49ers cornerback Perrish Cox."…

"In addition, they re-signed OLB Derrick Morgan, so if all of these veterans can stay healthy, LeBeau may have enough to work with here."…

"The Titans ranked 31st against the run (137.2 yards per game) and gave up 27.4 points per game (tied for 29th in NFL), so there is a ton of work to get done in Nashville."…

"DT Jurrell Casey can play and GM Ruston Webster found a keeper at LB in Avery Williamson last year."…

"In the secondary, they should be set with Cox and Jason McCourty at the corners and Searcy and veteran Michael Griffin at the two safety spots."…

"There is talk of an impending ownership change in league circles, so after a 2-14 campaign in 2014, it’s imperative for the Titans to show progress for the Whisenhunt/Webster administration to continue beyond this season.”