Where yesterday we looked at a division that had almost no parity, here we have three teams running side-by-side… and then there's Jacksonville. It wasn't until the end of the season before Houston won the division on tie-breakers from Tennessee and Indianapolis was right behind them, meaning that any of these three teams could in theory take the division this year. And because the best record was only six wins above the worst, it is conceivable that Jacksonville could leap over all the others. But where the teams are somewhat equal in record, they have some very different needs.
2016 Record: 9-7
First Pick: #25
Needs: Quarterback, Offensive Line, Defensive Line, Linebacker, Defensive Backs
Analysis: The above looks like a huge list to address, and in a way, it is. But the majority of those needs are for depth. Houston has a great defense, a good offensive line and good skill players. Picking up some young players to coach up and fill in with for injuries or just to keep the snap count down on their stars is not a bad place to be. Then there's the quarterback slot. The threw a bucket of money last year at Brock Osweiler and came up with a player they traded away just to get him off their roster. The team was hoping to pick up Tony Romo from Dallas, but Romo has chosen to retire instead. Which leaves them with Tom Savage, a work in progress, and Brandon Weedon, a former Cleveland bust. They could still look to free agency and pick up Colin Kaepernick, but that doesn't sound much better than going with who they already have. Odds are they'll pick up a QB in the first three rounds to come in and compete with Savage for the starting job.
2016 Record: 8-8
First Pick: #15
Needs: Offensive Line, Defensive Line, Running Back
Analysis: The Colts expected to be a better team than this. Andrew Luck was expected to be one of the better quarterbacks in the league and like his predecessor, Peyton Manning, he would make the mediocre players around him better. But football is a game, not a theory. Fixing this team starts with the pass rush. They need to get some pressure on opposing QBs, which will make the DBs and Linebackers better. It's hard to be a winning team when you give up almost 400 points in a season. But Indianapolis also needs help on the other side of the ball. Some depth at O-line and a consistent running game would take a lot of pressure off of Luck and open up more throwing lanes. Running back class is deep, so expect them to look for offensive and defensive line help early.
2016 Record: 3-13
First PIck: #4
Needs: Tight End, Defensive Tackle, Offensive Line
Analysis: There's a lot of talk about whether or not the Jaguars will draft a quarterback. I don't see that happening, at least not until day three. The feeling I get is that the team is willing to give Blake Bortles one more year to make a go of it, and that is a good idea. It allows them to address their other needs. The first thing they should do is work on rebuilding their offensive line. Picking up two or three pieces through the weekend would be a good call. After that, they could use some help with the pass rush and Bortles could use a few more targets, including a good tight end. The draft has some quality depth at TE, so grabbing one late day two or early day three could work. If they address their line seriously, that will help both their running and passing game which will give Bortles a better chance to shine… or prove he's not worth spending more time on.
2016 Record: 9-7
First PIck: #5
Needs: Wide Receiver, Cornerback, Pass Rusher and Linebacker
Analysis: Tenneessee has an interesting situation. They have two first round picks, no second round and then two third rounders. This could give them some options depending on how they want to play it. Now there are some really good corners to be had in the early part of the draft and they should definitely grab one to show up their DBs. A second one on day three wouldn't hurt either. After that, they really need folks for Marcus Mariota to throw to, and I don't mean just one. They could use their second first round pick, number 18 overall, on a wide receiver or tight end… or they could trade it for two second rounders or a second and third and go after pass catchers there. In this case too good receivers beat one great one. They also need to address depth in their linebacking corps and increase their pass rush. Something they can address in rounds three and four.