1) INDIANAPOLIS COLTS: Even with “Superman” at QB, the Colts were overachievers last season due to injuries, finishing at 10-6 and losing a tough one to the Jets in the 1st round of the NFL playoffs. When looking at this franchise, they are all about outscoring their opponent. They showed that they can “plug and play” at WR with the talent they have shown the last few years with the emergence of Garcon, White and Collie. However, the Colts universe still revolves around Manning and you don’t keep your Ferrari parked in the road do you? No you protect it and that is what the Colts will do early in this draft. They still were near the top of the league with only 17 sacks allowed on Manning in 2010 but much of their issues on the OL were disguised by Manning’s uncanny ability to read defenses and get the ball out of his hands quickly. Look for the Colts to address the line at pick 22 in what is amounting to a pretty deep draft in the trenches. Carimi or Castonzo would be great but are not expected to be there for their pick. I think Tyron Smith from USC may be a good fit here for them as he is big at 6’5and still has room to grow his frame at 290. Rackley from Lehigh would also be a solid choice here too if available. The rest of the draft should concentrate on the defensive side of the ball. They are plenty deep at WR, Clark isn’t getting younger at TE but this draft is not good if you need a TE so they’ll pass here. RB could be an option in rounds 3-4 as Brown is bordering on a bust depending on the 2011 season and Addai, while showing great signs of life last year, just can’t be counted on for production and staying healthy. With Sanders now gone in the back end, the Colts need to shore up their secondary. I like them going CB, maybe even in the first and crossing their fingers that the talent at OL holds up until their 2nd pick. They can also always use help at the DL position to free up Freeney so that is an option as well.
2) HOUSTON TEXANS: Everyone’s favorite pre-season pick to surprise did so again, only on the downside as usual. They started out the season strong but lost some close ones along the way to again finish a disappointing season at 6-10. Kubiak miraculously returns, mostly because the offense is his forte and is not the problem. That is why owner, Bob McNair gutted the defensive staff and elected to bring in “Uncle Wade” to shore things up and switch over to a 3-4 front. There is usually a learning curve with that and getting the right personnel up front is a challenge so don’t expect huge strides in 2011. However, they will spend the majority of this draft looking for help on that side of the ball and they will mostly find it in a deep DL, OLB and decent not great CB draft. The Texans know they need to fix the secondary which is why they went CB in the first in 2010 but Kareem Jackson disappointed in year 1. At #11, Peterson, Prince, Jimmy Smith or Rasi Dowling should all be available and probably are good fits to at least start improving this secondary that has to play Peyton twice a year. The other good news for the Texans is there are a decent amount of pass rushing OLB’s in this draft that they can opt for in Round 1 or 2 possibly. Cushing and Barwin should make the transition fine but adding a guy like rafting services Justin Houston of Georgia, Chris Carter, Fresno or Akeem Ayers from UCLA may be a good fit. Of course of paramount importance is always the NG in the 3-4 and some teams have been looking for that player for years. This is the anchor of this defense and 330 lb. players that also have quick feet don’t grow on trees so it may take a while to get one.
3) JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS: Forever on the hot seat, coach Jack Del Rio will need to get instant production from this draft if he is going to stick around for a while. In this QB driven league, it is no wonder that he has had mostly subpar seasons with previous bust Byron Leftwich and now the very average David Garrard. Could this be the year the Jags look to finally land a franchise QB? Well there is a lot of depth at that position but franchise QBs? I don’t think you have more than a couple that could turn out that way but no one that will help immediately. If they go QB early, it tells you all you need to know about GM Smith’s feelings on Del Rio’s long term potential as coach. Garrard is serviceable at best and won’t be winning any championships, let alone a division with Peyton Manning around any time soon. So what will the Jags do? They have to go primarily defense yet again in this draft with a focus on WR as well. Sims-Walker was an enigma last year and is most likely not going to be resigned after underachieving. Mike Thomas looked good last year but Hill, Dillard and Underwood are not exactly household names at WR. They need some help here. At pick 16, they likely will not have a shot at Green or Julio Jones in the draft unless they trade up and they hav