Season Recap and Team Needs: AFC South
In this segment, we will take look at each team's 2011 season and the areas they need to improve most in through the draft.
by DC Insider Rick Bennett
The team's first playoff birth in franchise history became bittersweet when starting QB Matt Schaub was injured. Matt Leinart managed to play mistake free and guide the team to the AFC Championship game before finally falling. If the Texans would like to stay at that level of production, they'll need to sure up a few weaknesses through the draft.
1.) DE/DT - JJ Watt looks like a keeper at one DE spot, but Antonio Smith and Shaun Cody are nothing to write home about. Adding some young talent at those positions would be of great benefit to the Texans.
2.) OLB - Mario Williams will be a free agent and is coming off of a season ending injury. Brooks Reed and Connor Barwin could make for a solid duo, but you can never had too many pass rushers.
3.) Safety - Dan Manning was a solid free agent pickup but was injured for most of 2011. A quality starter for opposite him as well as some depth would be great additions.
If someone told you that Chris Johnson would have a terrible year in 2011, you probably wouldn't have given the Titans much of a change. However, solid defensive play and Matt Hasselbeck nearly got this team to the playoffs.
1.) Interior O-line - The Titans have a great pair of bookend tackles but the interior of the o-line hasn't been playing well. Upgrades could be used at any of the 3 positions and an investment there would certainly help Johnson get back on track.
2.) Safety - Chris Hope is getting older, coming off an injury and will be a free agent. The team needs someone to pair with Michael Griffin in the defensive backfield.
3.) D-line Depth - Jason Jones is set to be free agent and the unit is fairly lackluster overall. Adding another talented youngster would definitely help.
Blaine Gabbert was definitely the roughest looking of the rookie QBs who got playing time in 2011, but with MJD and a solid defense, the Jags make for a good situation for him to turn it around. He'll need help though.
1.) WR - The Jags lack a true #1 WR, with the 5'8 Mike Thomas as the closest thing they have. Having a reliable, athletic pass catcher would certainly help in Gabbert's development.
2.) DE - In a league where getting pressure on the opposing QB is a must, you have to do better than Matt Roth and Jeremy Mincey at the DE position.
3.) CB - Rashean Mathis will be a 32 year old free agent coming off of a knee injury and the other corners on the roster are unspectacular at best.
Not much can be said about the pathetic performance of the Colts in 2011. Even with Peyton Manning, it would have been a stretch for this team to accomplish much beyond going .500. Manning may return, but the team has a lot of key free agents to decide on and a #1 overall pick to use.
1.) O-line - This is a unit that could still use a lot of work in order to help keep Manning, or a new QB, upright and to help open holes in the run game.
2.) DT - A stud DT would really help to sure up the Colts run defense which has always been abysmal.
3.) QB? - There's no doubt that the Colts will be tempted by Andrew Luck, regardless of Manning's status. Even if he returns, he'll be 36 with a history of neck injuries. This will definitely draw consideration.
Stay tuned as we continue to recap the teams by division with the NFC West up next!