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2017 NFL Draft: AFC South On the Clock

Sports Xchange - Friday 21st April, 2017

Houston Texans at No. 25

When the NFL Draft begins selections in Philadelphia April 27, the Houston Texans have the No. 25. pick in the first round.

Here is an in-depth look at the team's needs, offseason changes, potential best fit and the selections by's experts.

Who would you pick and why?

Top five needs

--1. Quarterback: This remains the top need for a struggling offense that unloaded an ineffective Brock Osweiler and his $72 million contract in a trade to the Browns. The Texans are expected to draft a quarterback especially after the decision by Tony Romo to retire. For now, their top option under center is Tom Savage.

--2. Defensive back: The Texans lost starters A.J. Bouye and Quintin Demps during free agency to the Jacksonville Jaguars and Chicago Bears, respectively. Bouye emerged as a shutdown corner last season. Demps led all safeties with six interceptions. Replacing them will likely involve cornerbacks Kevin Johnson and Johnathan Joseph getting healthier and likely drafting a few defensive backs.

--3. Tackle: The offensive line, especially right tackle, is a vulnerable area. It's dangerously thin with Derek Newton not expected back this season after tearing both patellar tendons last season. Chris Clark was not good as his replacement. The Texans are evaluating several college tackles, including Utah's Garett Bolles and Alabama's Cam Robinson and are likely to draft a tackle at some point. They could also use help at guard. Neither Xavier Su'a-Filo or Jeff Allen was particularly stout last season.

--4. Running back: Lamar Miller wore down at the end of a productive season. There really isn't a quality backup capable of spelling him for long on the roster currently, including Alfred Blue. The Texans have been looking at running backs, including Pitt's James Conner visiting.

--5. Defensive tackle: Although D.J. Reader shapes up as a sure-fire replacement for Vince Wilfork, they still need depth at the position. They have been evaluating several defensive linemen, including North Carolina's Nazair Jones.

Best fit

--QB Patrick Mahomes, Texas Tech: The Texans have a glaring need at quarterback after trading away Brock Osweiler to the Browns and Tony Romo opting to go to CBS as an analyst rather than play for them. They currently have Tom Savage, who is prone to injuries, atop the depth chart. They need to identify a quarterback for the future and Mahomes fits the bill. He has a strong arm and is instinctive, but needs polish and time to develop.

The pick will be ...

--Rob Rang: Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson. Getting rid of the colossal Osweiler contract was a relief in itself, but unless a veteran replacement is found, quarterback is now the top priority again in Houston. Watson's ability to deliver in the clutch intrigues scouts, but he also threw an FBS-worst 30 interceptions over the past two seasons, making him a polarizing player in the scouting community. At this point in the draft, however, general manager Rick Smith might see him as simply too talented to pass up.

--Dane Brugler: Ryan Ramcyzk, OT, Wisconsin. Regardless of who is at quarterback, the Texans need to invest in offensive line help to have any hope at a passing game. Ramczyk should continue the long, successful pipeline of Wisconsin blockers to the NFL.

--Jim Miller: Patrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech. As an ex-quarterback, Miller's explanation on this key pick should be interesting, so check out the accompanying video.

(Pat Kirwan, Miller picks based on last Friday's mock on SiriusXM Radio. Listen to their next mock Friday, April 21, on SiriusXM NFL Radio channel 88).

--Frank Cooney, IMO: Quarterback is the obvious need. Although there is a lot of negativity about this class, there are a dozen teams that list the position as a top-three need. So if one goes earlier than expected, you can count on nervous teams making a run on the position. If that means Jim Miller's pick, Texas Tech's Patrick Mahomes, is gone, I believe the Texans may have a shot at one of the more overlooked talents in the draft -- Cal quarterback Davis Webb. He can throw the ball as well as anybody in the draft and most of the starters in the NFL. He is still developing as a passer, but has the knack to fit the ball where it belongs.

Indianapolis Colts on at No. 15

When the NFL Draft begins selections in Philadelphia April 27, the Indianapolis Colts have the No. 15 pick in the first round.

Here is an in-depth look at the team's needs, offseason changes, potential best fit and the selections by's experts.

Who would you pick and why?

Top five needs

--1. Rush outside linebacker: Despite all the Colts' free agency moves to infuse more talent on defense this offseason, finding an athletic, young, play-making outside rush linebacker remains the top priority for the Indianapolis front office during the draft. If the Colts could find two rookie rush outside linebackers in this draft, so much the better.

--2. Cornerback: Indianapolis needs to find depth at cornerback in this draft. Indianapolis could come up with a potential long-term starter at the position, which would really help Ballard's defensive remodeling. The Colts need more playmakers in the secondary.

--3. Running back: With Frank Gore on the back end of his NFL career, don't be surprised if the Colts try to find a long-term replacement at running back. Veteran Robert Turbin was re-signed this offseason, but he's not expected to be the eventual replacement for Gore in the Indianapolis offense. Finding the right young running back who can pass block as well as be a dependable receiver out of the backfield is just as important as their running skills.

--4. Inside linebacker: Indianapolis was active in the veteran free agency market this offseason and added several pieces to the team's inside linebacking group. But coming up with a couple rookie inside linebackers who are athletic and skilled enough to push the veterans would be nice.

--5. Defensive line: Again, the Colts have been busy this offseason in the veteran free agency market as they have tried to improve the overall depth and skills along the defensive line. Indianapolis, though, wants to get younger and more athletic in the trenches. Playmakers are needed.

Best fit

--OLB Derek Barnett, Tennessee: The Colts need immediate help at rush outside linebacker. While trying to add help through free agency to the rest of the defense during this offseason, Indianapolis is in dire need of a young, athletic outside pass rusher who can also handle the responsibilities in pass coverage. The Colts pick 15th overall in the first round and Barnett is expected to still be available at that point of the draft.

The pick will be ...

--Rob Rang: Haason Reddick, LB, Temple. The Colts have needs all over the defense and could see the versatile and explosive Reddick as immediate help at a number of positions. Reddick recorded 22.5 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks as an edge rusher for the Owls in 2016 before wowing first at the Senior Bowl as a more traditional linebacker at the Senior Bowl and then at the Combine, recording a ridiculous 4.52 second time in the 40-yard dash and 11-foot, 1-inch broad jump at 6-foot-1, 234 pounds.

--Dane Brugler: Haason Reddick, LB, Temple. Coming from Kansas City, new Colts general manager Chris Ballard understands the impact of speed on defense and that is exactly what Reddick offers. He can line up inside or outside and give position flexibility to drop in coverage or blitz.

--Jim Miller: Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama. No surprise here from a former quarterback who is always looking for more time to pass the bal.

(Pat Kirwan, Miller picks based on last Friday's mock on SiriusXM Radio. Listen to their next mock Friday, April 21, on SiriusXM NFL Radio channel 88).

--Frank Cooney, IMO: If the Colts' top need is a pass rusher, versatile linebacker Haason Reddick, Temple, is an intriguing prospect. He arrived as a 185-pound walk-on and as he became bigger and tougher he was guilty of aggravated assault -- literally (off-campus fight, 2015) -- which opponents witnessed last season when he collected 22.5 tackles for a loss, including 10.5 sacks.

Jacksonville Jaguars at No. 4

When the NFL Draft begins selections in Philadelphia April 27, the Jacksonville Jaguars have the No. 4 pick in the first round.

Here is an in-depth look at the team's needs, offseason changes, potential best fit and the selections by's experts.

Who would you pick and why?

Top five needs

--1. Defensive end: The team's top two players at strong-side end last season, Jared Odrick and Tyson Alualu, have both departed. Odrick was released and the Jaguars chose not to re-sign Alualu, who later signed with Pittsburgh. Likely to get the starting call for the 2017 opener is newly signed free agent Calais Campbell who the Jaguars beat out Denver for the former Arizona Cardinals veteran. But that's not to say Campbell will solve all the team needs at this spot. The 31-year-old, 10-year veteran only has a couple good years at most left in his tank. The Jaguars would like to have someone that can learn under Campbell, will provide adequate depth and will be ready to replace Campbell in time. If Alabama's Jonathan Allen is still available with the fourth overall pick, look for the Jaguars to jump on him despite Allen's woeful showing at the Combine and the growing concern over his surgically-repaired shoulders. If the latter is too much of a concern, the Jaguars might opt instead for Stanford defensive end Solomon Thomas.

--2. Running back: If Allen and Thomas are both gone when the Jaguars make their pick, they very well may opt for LSU running back Leonard Fournette. The Jaguars have two talented running backs on the roster in Chris Ivory and T.J. Yeldon. But neither player had a good year in 2016 as injuries limited their playing time with neither player able to reach the 500-yard rushing mark for the season. Both could bounce back with solid showings this year, but Fournette looks like he could be a standout in the league for the next decade. Dalvin Cook of Florida State is the next best option, but he may not be worthy of the fourth overall pick. He would be an ideal choice if the Jaguars traded down in the first round, received several other draft picks and were able to land Cook.

--3. Left guard: The Jaguars had five different starters at this position a year ago and never grew comfortable with any. All five players suffered some type of injury, some of which were season-enders, and by midway of the final game of the year against Indianapolis, they were using their sixth different player at that spot. Most of the six players used at that position last year will return in 2017, but none have shown the capability of becoming a solid, full-time starter there. It's a need that must be addressed. It was a mild surprise that the Jaguars did not address this need in free agency as there were several players available who would have provided an immediate upgrade. That being the case, look for the Jaguars to pick a lineman within the first two days of the draft.

--4. Tight end: The Jaguars' roster currently lists four tight ends including incumbent Marcedes Lewis. But the 10-year veteran has missed at least five games in each of three of the last four seasons and has not caught more than 25 passes in any of those years. The three backups behind Lewis have potential, but none have demonstrated the skill set to be ready to step in and replace Lewis or the departed Julius Thomas as a pass-catching tight end. Should the Jaguars trade down with their No. 4 overall pick, Alabama's O.J. Howard becomes a popular choice to be the team's first-round pick.

--5. Quarterback: If Jacksonville doesn't make a trade with the No. 4 overall pick and thus only has one pick in each of the first four rounds, taking a quarterback in the fifth round will probably not happen unless they like someone so much and he's fallen this far in the draft. They basically did that a year ago when they liked Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen enough that they selected him with a sixth-round pick. While Allen didn't appear in any games in his rookie season, the Jaguars feel he's still a project in the works. The Jaguars would like to have a quarterback in camp that could push Blake Bortles. Veteran backup Chad Henne is not that guy, nor does it appear that Allen is ready to do so. Bringing in someone young with talent may be the only way to go to push Bortles.

Best fit

--Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford: Thomas has outstanding athleticism with both power and quickness. At 6-foot-3 and 275 pounds, he could add another 10 pounds to make it even tougher for opposing linemen to block. He is relentless when it comes to run or pass and has the skillset to fight off blockers. He has all the athletic traits to become a high-impact player and could be a standout for the next decade. Some say the downside is that his size makes him a "tweener" where he might struggle to keep weight on to play inside and that at 6-foot-3 he doesn't have the length to hold his own on the outside. But the arrow appears to be decisively pointing up for Thomas and how his skills would fit in with the Jaguars' 4-3 scheme. Jonathan Allen might be the better overall player, but there are concerns about his past with injuries. Thomas thus gets the nod over Allen if the Jaguars have their choice of the two defensive standouts.

The pick will be ...

--Rob Rang: Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU. Splashy signings in free agency suggest the Jaguars are looking for an immediate difference-maker with this pick. The Cowboys went from last to first in the NFC during the regular season a year ago in large part because of the stellar play of 2016 No. 4 overall pick Ezekiel Elliott and the Jaguars could see a similar bounce with Fournette taking the pressure off young Blake Bortles and the passing game. Fournette was not as impressive in workouts as expected, but he is a freakish talent, boasting the most exciting combination of size, speed and power since Adrian Peterson.

--Dane Brugler: Jamal Adams, SS, LSU. The Jaguars added Barry Church in free agency, but that shouldn't stop them from adding a player like Adams, who would give Jacksonville another potential Pro Bowler on defense.

--Pat Kirwan: Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU. If a runner is the want, this one has the talent to be one of the best in a decade.

(Kirwan, Jim Miller picks based on last Friday's mock on SiriusXM Radio. Listen to their next mock Friday, April 21, on SiriusXM NFL Radio channel 88).

--Frank Cooney, IMO: Depending on who is available, my preferences at this spot would be running back Leonard Fournette, LSU, or defensive end Solomon Thomas, Stanford -- in that order.

Tennessee Titans Nos. 5, 18

When the NFL Draft begins selections in Philadelphia April 27, the Tennessee Titans have the No. 5 and No. 18 picks in the first round.

Here is an in-depth look at the team's needs, offseason changes, potential best fit and the selections by's experts.

Who would you pick and why?

Top five needs

--1. Cornerback: The Titans addressed this in free agency with Logan Ryan, but they recently released veteran Jason McCourty. The Titans were going to add at least one cornerback in this draft whether McCourty stayed or not, and general manager Jon Robinson's brief history when a position needs to be addressed is to remake it both in free agency and the draft.

--2. Wide receiver: The Titans are pleased with Rishard Matthews and they still have high hopes for Tajae Sharpe after he showed flashes as a rookie. But Kendall Wright is gone, and veteran Harry Douglas is in the twilight of his career. From a sheer numbers standpoint, the Titans will probably add two more wide receivers from a class that is fairly deep, but might not have a true can't-miss superstar.

--3. Tight end: The loss of Anthony Fasano in free agency is an underrated issue for the Titans, who can either hand Phillip Supernaw a bigger role in the offense as the second tight end or they can draft to fill this need. Delanie Walker is still playing at a high level, but is 32, and Jace Amaro needs to improve his blocking before the Titans trust him with a bigger role.

--4. Inside linebacker: The Titans re-signed Wesley Woodyard, and did not go as hard after Dont'a Hightower in free agency as many expected. Still, depth at inside linebacker is a concern, as there are no proven players behind Woodyard and Avery Williamson. The Titans re-signed Nate Palmer, who could fill in in a pinch, but his value is more as a special teams player rather than a having to fill in as a starter.

--5. Safety: The Titans addressed this with the free-agent signing of Johnathan Cyprien, but still might add some depth here. Kevin Byard impressed as a rookie, but Da'Norris Searcy's starting role (and perhaps his roster spot) could be in jeopardy, depending upon what is found in the draft. Also, the Titans did not re-sign Rashad Johnson and Daimion Stafford in free agency, meaning that from the standpoint of needing players to compete, adding one more safety seems a reasonable possibility.

Best fits

--No. 5: CB Marshawn Lattimore, Ohio State: The Titans are armed with two first-round picks, thanks to last year's trade of the first overall pick to the Los Angeles Rams. Having just released Jason McCourty and his $7 million base salary, the Titans have a need in the secondary, even after adding Logan Ryan in free agency. Lattimore is regarded as the best cornerback available in this draft. The biggest question about him has been injuries. The talent, however, seems to be in abundance. The Titans, however, might try and trade down a few slots if there is a pool of players to be chosen from that they like and no consensus at No. 5.

--No. 18: TE O.J. Howard, Alabama: Rankings for Howard have been all up and down the first round, depending on which mock draft you look at. It is possible that Howard might be a Titans target, even if they have to move down from No. 5 or up from No. 18. He has the type of size and athletic skills that are becoming a weapon in the NFL, and Tennessee having lost Anthony Fasano in free agency needs a second tight end to pair with Delanie Walker, and to eventually be the heir apparent to the 32-year-old Pro Bowler.

The picks will be ...

--Rob Rang: No. 5: Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State. The addition of veterans Logan Ryan and Johnathan Cyprien help, but only the most optimistic of Titans fans believe they can turn a secondary that ranked 31st a year ago against the pass into an elite unit. Now if a talent like Lattimore was added to the mix, on the other hand, optimism would be much higher. Lattimore struggled with hamstring injuries early in his career at Ohio State, but he was dominant last season, showing the easy agility, acceleration and instincts to project as a future Pro Bowler.

--No. 18: John Ross, WR, Washington. With Marcus Mariota's speed and the two-headed monster of DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry in the backfield, Tennessee clearly has a run-first strategy on offense. That said, Ross' incredible straight-line speed would force opposing defensive coordinators to think twice before crowding the box. Furthermore, Ross would add juice to a special teams unit that ranked 20th a season ago in punt return average (7.9) and 26th on kickoffs (19.1).

--Dane Brugler: No. 5: Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State. Cornerback isn't the top need on the roster, but the Titans are in position to take best available with this pick and Lattimore would give Tennessee valuable depth at a critical position.

-No. 18: David Njoku, TE, Miami (Fla.). Assuming the Titans go with a defensive stud with the fifth pick, the selection here is a good bet to be an offensive playmaker. Njoku, who is still only 20 years old, has arguably the highest ceiling of any offensive skill player in this draft class.

--Jim Miller: No. 5 pick is traded and the Cincinnati Bengals step in here to take Jonathan Allen, defensive end, Alabama. Miller can explain the details and reason in corresponding video here.

--Pat Kirwan: No. 18: This spot is traded to the Denver Broncos, who take Forrest Lamp, OG, Western Kentucky.

(Kirwan, Miller picks based on last Friday's mock on SiriusXM Radio. Listen to their next mock Friday, April 21, on SiriusXM NFL Radio channel 88).

--Frank Cooney, IMO: At No. 5, Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State, looks like a good fit. At No. 18, tight end O.J. Howard, Alabama, is the best at the position in this draft and would be welcomed by QB Marcus Mariota.

Your chance to go on the record

OK, it's your turn. Tell us in the comments section who you would pick and why. Check out top 1,000 players rated by, including combine and pro day workouts, biographies, scouting reports.

Frank Cooney, founder and publisher of The Sports Xchange and, is in his sixth decade covering football and 25th year on the Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee.

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