Round 1 of the 2014 NFL Draft featured three picks from three AFC South teams: Houston Texans (No. 1), Jacksonville Jaguars (No. 3) and Tennessee Titans (No. 11). All three teams are looking to revamp their rosters in an attempt to not only return to the playoffs in 2014 but create a foundation that allows them to enjoy annual success.
Let’s take a look at the draft picks for the Texans (Jadeveon Clowney, defensive end, South Carolina) and Jaguars (Blake Bortles, quarterback, Central Florida). How do these selections affect the Titans?
Houston Texans: Jadeveon Clowney
Adding Clowney to a defensive front seven that already includes J.J. Watt, Brooks Reed and Whitney Mercilus may have already had a visible effect on how the Titans approached the draft. Drafting Lewan was a long-term answer to giving this team continued stability at left tackle even after Michael Roos departs. At age 32 in October and a free agent after this season, Lewan will almost certainly take over those responsibilities in 2015. The Titans can’t afford to have a vulnerable left tackle in a division with Clowney, Watt, and even Dwight Freeney among others.
A defensive-end tandem that includes Watt and Clowney? That’s pretty impressive. It’s nowhere near as impressive as what Titans fans witnessed during the 2000s:
Clowney and Watt is a fine couple. But Colts had Freeney and Mathis WITH Manning at QB for years. That was more intimidating. #Titans.
— Titan Sized (@Titan_Sized) May 9, 2014
What made the Colts’ defensive-end tandem extra special was the offense. Manning forced teams to score with them. That meant other teams had to pass more to keep up. Passing more meant Freeney and Mathis had more opportunities to make momentum-changing impact plays.
How will teams combat Watt and Clowney? If Case Keenum and Ryan Fitzpatrick are quarterbacking, then just run the football. The Texans aren’t scoring many points with the current quarterback depth chart.
Watt plus Clowney equals nice start. They’ll need more than that if they want to return to AFC South prominence. Just be thankful that the Minnesota Vikings traded up to No. 32 and snatched Teddy Bridgewater. For Houston, getting Clowney at No. 1 then Bridgewater at No. 33 would’ve been huge, maybe even a franchise-defining draft.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Blake Bortles
Labeled as one of the draft’s biggest and earliest surprises, the Jaguars passed on Khalil Mack when they used their No. 3 pick on Bortles.
It was just a few weeks ago when dozens of mock-drafters projected him as a No. 1 overall pick. Bortles ends up at No. 3. Spectators are astonished. Sometimes, people convince themselves that drama exists when it really doesn’t. Must be some type of adrenaline rush.
Take note that the next two drafted quarterbacks were Johnny Manziel (No. 22) and Teddy Bridgewater (No. 32). The Vikings acquired No. 32 from the Seattle Seahawks when they offered them No. 40 and No. 108. Imagine if the Jaguars had drafted Mack or Sammy Watkins at No. 3. They could’ve traded No. 39 and No. 105 to acquire No. 32. That would’ve gave them Bridgewater to go with Mack or Watkins.
Give credit to the Jaguars: they got their man. They didn’t let 18 teams (Browns No. 4-21) or 24 teams (Vikings No. 8-31) have first crack at him. They’re showing the most confidence in their targeted quarterback. Let’s see if that confidence was warranted. They’ll need to continue building a supporting cast around him or it won’t matter much. In the Jaguars’ current state, Bortles won’t take them far.
Tennessee Titans: Taylor Lewan
Last night, Titan Sized editor Joshua Huffman explained why fans will grow to appreciate Lewan (HERE). He’s not the sexiest pick but he’s a great fit for what this team wants to accomplish. After not trading down in Round 1, general manager Ruston Webster could look to trade back into Round 2 and still acquire another Round 3-4 pick.