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Ell’s NFL Draft Grades 2023: AFC South

Texans: A+

QB C.J. Stroud, Ohio State, Edge Will Anderson Jr., Alabama, 1st Round, C Juice Scruggs, Penn State, 2nd Round, WR Nathaniel Dell, Houston, 3rd Round, DE Dylan Horton, TCU, 4th Round, ILB Henry To’oTo’o, Alabama, 5th Round, C Jarrett Patterson, Notre Dame, WR Xavier Hutchinson, Iowa State, 6th Round, S Brandon Hill, Pittsburgh, 7th Round

The Texans pulled off the biggest move in the draft selecting Stroud with the #2 pick then trading up using the #12 pick and more to select Anderson at #3; my top 2 ranked players. Stroud, in my opinion, is the best QB in the draft with top level accuracy, NFL size, and great pocket presence, but he needs to show off his mobility a lot more as QBs are becoming dual threats and prove that he can play without the top weapons of Ohio State that many consider perfect conditions. Anderson was considered the top player regardless of position to many and could have easily been a top 3 pick last year, as well; he is one of the safest picks in the draft. Anderson has good size, speed, leadership, and athleticism to rush the passer while standing or along the line with the ability to stop the run also; he just needs to continue to polish his game and improve in coverage. Scruggs is a strong lineman with experience at Guard and Center who excels at taking on double teams and in both the run and pass blocking, but he needs to improve his footwork and consistency; he is expected to start at Center.

Dell was a productive WR with good hands and the ability to make plays after the catch and in space, but he is small and needs to add strength to his frame and clean up his route running; he will be limited to slot WR due to his size and still should be productive. Horton is an athletic edge rusher with good size, quickness, awareness, and a high motor, but he is still raw as a pass rusher and projects as a edge/OLB in the league who may see time as a situation pass rusher and on Special Teams with starter potential. To’oTo’o is a physical, high motor LB with good coverage skills, speed, awareness and athleticism as a sideline to sideline tackler who can play inside and outside; he needs to add strength/weight and clean up his tackling and run stopping, but he has potential.

Patterson is a tall lineman with good size, awareness, run blocking skills, and experience at Center and Guard, where he should provide depth, but he has starter potential once he improves in pass blocking. Hutchinson is a productive college WR with good hands, size, and route running who lacks top speed/the ability to separate deep, needs to add strength, and improve blocking; he will make the roster with his ability to play inside and outside and could work his way up the depth chart. Hill is an undersized Safety/DB with good speed, awareness, and range who plays with good coverage and physicality, but he needs to add more weight/strength to his frame and improve his technique.

Colts: B-

QB Anthony Richardson, Florida, 1st Round, CB Julius Brents, Kansas State, 2nd Round, WR Josh Downs, North Carolina, 3rd Round, T Blake Freeland, BYU, DE Adetomiwa Adebawore, Northwestern, 4th Round, S Daniel Scott, California, TE Will Mallory, Miami, RB Evan Hull, Northwestern, 5th Round, ILB Titus Leo, Wagner, 6th Round, CB Jaylon Jones, Texas A&M, T Jake Witt, Northern Michigan, 7th Round

The Colts chose Richardson to be their QB of the future, which made sense with their new Head Coach coming from the Eagles as the Offensive Coordinator for Jalen Hurts. Richardson is a big, athletic QB with good mobility and a big arm for the deep ball, but he needs to improve his accuracy, consistency and ability to read the field; he is young enough and talented enough to be a top dual threat QB. Brents is tall, lanky DB who fits best as a press zone CB using his length and awareness to be disruptor and he is a willing tackler, but he not very fast and needs to improve his technique; he will compete for a starting spot. Downs is an athletic, speed slot WR who plays bigger than his size with good route running and a high contested catch percentage, but he lacks the size to play on the outside or be a blocker; he will see time immediately. Freeland is a tall, zone run-blocking lineman with good strength, size and awareness, but he lacks good foot speed for speed rushers and his height can make leverage an issue, but with experience on both sides (LT/RT) he will provide depth. Adebawore is a strong, athletic movable piece (DE/DT/LB) who uses his speed and strength to get after the QB and make plays in the run game, but he lacks ideal length and needs to improve his technique; he projects as a movable rusher early with starter potential.

Scott is a fast DB with good size who has the potential to be a movable piece on defense with good speed and the ability to cover TEs, but he needs to improve his tackling and continue to improve his awareness; he will provide depth. Mallory is a tall movable TE who can find the soft spots in the defense with good speed for the position, good hands and blocking, but he’s not athletic and needs to add strength; he has #2/3 TE potential. Hull is a patient RB with good hands who runs with good vision power and acceleration, but he lacks the burst to make the homerun play; he can help on Special Teams with #2/3rd down back potential.

Leo is an athletic, fast edge rusher from a small school who did a good job creating turnovers and plays in the backfield, but he needs to continue to add strength/weight to his frame; he is a developmental edge/OLB with good traits. Jones is a zone cover DB who prefers to play away from his man at CB playing with good awareness, size, and coverage skills, but he lacks good speed and needs to improve his tackling; he may have to move to Safety and add weight. Witt is a huge, athletic small school prospect who is still raw to the Tackle position, but he has the traits to be a developmental player.

Titans: B

T Peter Skoronski, Northwestern, 1st Round, QB Will Levis, Kentucky, 2nd Round, RB Tyjae Spears, Tulane, 3rd Round, TE Josh Whyle, Cincinnati, 5th Round, T Jaelyn Duncan, Maryland, 6th Round, WR Colton Dowell, UT Martin, 7th Round

The Titans select Skoronski widely considered one of the safest picks of the draft as he is a solid lineman with great technique and footwork, but he may lack the length to be a Tackle; many believe he can be a Pro Bowl Guard or Center so he will find a spot on the O-line day 1. The Titans saved and selected Levis from his 1st round drop, as teams didn’t like his awareness, inconsistencies, and a late injury amongst various other reasons. Levis is a 1st round talent with great size, arm strength and above average mobility, he will compete for the 2nd string job and should eventually get a chance to start. Spears is a small but tough, physical RB who runs with great vision and acceleration while being a playmaker in space with good hands, however his size and durability concerns may limit him from being a starter; he will see carries as a change of pace back and could take the #2 spot. Whyle is a tall athletic TE with good hands and quickness who knows how to find soft spots in the defense making him best used as a moving piece, but he needs to add more weight/strength to improve his blocking and clean up his route running. Duncan was rated a lot higher on most boards, but teams didn’t like the inconsistencies in his technique and didn’t believe he could play Tackle in the league, but he is an athletic lineman with great footwork and quickness who will provide depth as he develops. Dowell is an athletic WR with good size coming off a 1,000 yard season, but he will need to prove he can adjust to the competition, add strength, and polish his game to make the roster.

Jaguars: C-

T Anton Harrison, Oklahoma, 1st Round, TE Brenton Strange, Penn State, 2nd Round, RB Tank Bigsby, Auburn, 3rd Round, ILB Ventrell Miller, Florida, DE Tyler Lacy, Oklahoma State, 4th Round, LB Yasir Abdullah, Louisville, S Antonio Johnson, Texas A&M, 5th Round, WR Parker Washington, Penn State, CB Christian Braswell, Rutgers, S Erick Hallett II, Pittsburgh, 6th Round, G Cooper Hodges, Appalachian State, DT Raymond Vohasek, North Carolina, FB Derek Parish, Houston, 7th Round

The Jaguars shocked most experts going with Harrison in the 1st round which made sense with the unexpected run on Tackles. Harrison is a tough lineman with good size, strength, footwork, and the ability to excel in both the run and passing game, but he needs to clean up some technique issues and continue to improve his 1 on 1 pass protection; he will be a starter from day 1. Strange is an athletic player with good quickness, size, hands, and run blocking, but he is still raw to the position and needs to improve his technique and route running/separation; he will provide depth with starter potential. Bigsby is an athletic RB with good size, acceleration, strength, and playmaking in space, but he needs to improve his blocking and doesn’t have homerun speed; he has starter potential. Miller is a physical, strong run stopping LB with good instincts, leadership, and zone coverage, but he lacks ideal size and doesn’t have good range; he will provide depth. Lacy is a strong versatile lineman who played DE and DT in college as a good run stopper with pass rush potential, but he needs to improve his technique and add weight to his frame; he will provide depth and play Special Teams. Abdullah is an athletic edge rusher with good speed and bend to make plays behind the line, but he is undersized, needs to improve his run stopping, and add strength; he could be a situation rusher early if the team can move K’Lavon Chaisson.

Johnson is an athletic DB with good size/length, instincts, and run stopping ability playing best in zone coverage, but he needs to improve his coverage/turnovers and add strength/weight; he could play early with starter potential at FS. Washington is a strong, physical slot WR who does a good job finding the soft spot in the defense and making plays in space, but he needs to improve his route running and may be limited to slot WR only; he projects as a Special Teams player and will provide depth. Braswell is a tough zone CB who plays with good speed and awareness while being a willing tackler, but he lacks length and comes with injury concerns; he will need to earn his spot. Hallett II is a DB with good instincts, playmaking skills, and versatility as a movable piece, but he lacks length and needs to improve his tackling technique; his versatility and Special Teams experience may earn him a spot. Hodges is a tough, run blocking lineman with good size who played Tackle in college, but doesn’t have good length so he projects as a Guard, he needs to improve his technique and pass blocking. Vohasek is a strong run stopping NT with some pass rush potential, but he needs to add weight to his frame and improve his technique. Parish is a strong, athletic player with experience on Special Teams, at FB, and as a pass rusher, but he lacks good size/length to be a every down defender; his versatility should allow him to make the team.

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