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AFC South Addresses Needs In Second, Third Rounds

Intro: The Colts, Texans, Jaguars and Titans each found players to fit their specific team needs on Friday night, as the 2017 NFL Draft headed into the second and third rounds.


INDIANAPOLIS — The cliché saying for most general managers heading into each NFL Draft is, "We'll draft the best available player first and not pick based on need."

If that approach was really taken by each team in the AFC South Division this year, then there sure have been an awful lot of coincidences.

On Friday, all four teams appeared to address their various needs on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. The Colts continued their defensive re-build with a new cornerback, Quincy Wilson, and a new pass rusher, Tarell Basham.

And what about the rest of the division? We take a comprehensive look at the Day 2 action here.

Houston Texans
Houston general manager Rick Smith wouldn't go so far as to call getting Texas running back D'Onta Foreman in the third round a steal.

He did, however feel fortunate to pick up last year's Doak Walker Award winner on the second day of the draft.

"I do a little bit of a wish list to the guys that I just would love to have on our football team," Smith said. "And he's one of those guys that was starred, that was on that list because he's just very good."

The Texans selected Foreman with the 89th pick after taking Vanderbilt linebacker Zach Cunningham with the 57th overall pick on Friday night.

Foreman had 2,028 yards rushing with 15 touchdowns as a junior for the Longhorns last season to win the Doak Walker Award given to the country's best running back. When Smith interviewed Foreman at the combine, he joked with him that his performance last season "might have been the quietest 2,000 yards" he'd ever seen.

Foreman had the perfect answer to Smith's comment.

"His response was: 'Well, I did win the Doak Walker Award, so it wasn't too quiet,'" Smith said.

Foreman joins a backfield which features Lamar Miller, who ran for 1,073 yards last season. His presence could take some of the load off of Miller after he was sixth in the NFL with a career-high 268 carries last year.

"There are other things that drafting him does for us, and one of them is hopefully for him to come in here and work hard, do a good job of learning our system and be able to spell Lamar at times when Lamar needs that," coach Bill O'Brien said. "I don't think it was a case where we overused Lamar, I just think all running backs need a little bit of rest every now and then and hopefully he'll be able to do that."

The Texans appeared to go for the best player available instead of drafting for need with their selection of Cunningham since they have a lot of depth at linebacker led by Brian Cushing and Benardrick McKinney. The pick comes after Houston traded up to No. 12 to get Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson in the first round on Thursday night.

In Cunningham, they get a player who piled up 295 career tackles, including 39 1/2 for losses and forced in a three-year career with the Commodores. He led the Southeastern Conference with 125 tackles in 2016 to earn first-team All-SEC honors for the second straight season.

Cunningham played on the inside at Vanderbilt, but many draft analysts projected him to be an outside linebacker in the NFL.

"Wherever the Texans see fit to put me, I'm definitely going to be an impact player on the defense," he said.

(via The Associated Press)

Jacksonville Jaguars
A night after landing running back Leonard Fournette with the fourth pick in the NFL draft, the Jacksonville Jaguars took a big step to fortify his blocking.

The Jaguars traded up one spot to select Alabama offensive tackle Cam Robinson with the 34th overall pick Friday night, giving the franchise what it believes will be a cornerstone to play alongside Fournette for years to come. Jacksonville gave Seattle its sixth-round pick (No. 187 overall) to swap spots in the second round.

General manager Dave Caldwell said Robinson will compete with newly acquired left tackle Branden Albert, who is skipping the team's voluntary offseason program in hopes of getting a new contract.

"We were never going to alter it to begin with," said Caldwell, who traded a seventh-round draft pick to acquire Albert last month.

The 32-year-old Albert signed a five-year, $47 million contract with the Miami Dolphins in 2014. The deal included $26 million guaranteed, all of which was paid over the last three seasons. Albert is due a base salary of $8.875 million this season and $9.575 million in 2018.

The Jaguars can't fine Albert for his absences, but drafting Robinson sends a strong message that Albert's starting job — maybe even his roster spot — is in jeopardy. Albert, who has missed 20 games over the last five seasons, had been considered a stop-gap solution at the all-important left tackle spot.

Robinson, the 2016 Outland Trophy winner as the country's best lineman, will get every chance to take over as a rookie and solidify a position that's been mostly unstable since Tony Boselli's career-ending shoulder injury in 2001. Mike Pearson, Khalif Barnes, Eugene Monroe, Luke Joeckel and Kelvin Beachum all failed to develop into long-term solutions at the premier spot.

"As you guys have told me for three years now, we've got to upgrade the offensive line," Caldwell said. "I'm starting to listen to you."

Although the Jaguars are expected to address mostly offensive needs in the three-day draft, they chose Illinois defensive end Dawuane Smoot in the third round. Jacksonville took Smoot with the 68th overall pick, leaving it with four picks Saturday.

Smoot totaled 137 tackles and 16 ½ sacks in 44 games for the Fighting Illini. He will start his NFL career playing behind veteran Calais Campbell.

"I'm ready to learn and work as hard as I can for the team," Smoot said.?

(via The Associated Press)

Tennessee Titans
The Tennessee Titans are doing their best to ensure quarterback Marcus Mariota has as many targets as possible.

The Titans, who waited out the second round of the NFL draft Friday night, traded up 11 spots with New England for their second wide receiver in Western Kentucky's Taywan Taylor at No. 72 overall. Then they wrapped up their night selecting Florida International tight end Jonnu Smith at No. 100.

Combined with using the fifth pick overall on wide receiver Corey Davis of Western Michigan, the Titans have used three of their first four selections on pass catchers.

"Maybe expecting a monthly Omaha steak to show up on my door step or something," general manager Jon Robinson joked when asked about being thanked by Mariota.

The Titans went into Friday night without a second-round draft pick after using that to move up and grab Jack Conklin, who became an All-Pro right tackle.

After waiting out the round, Robinson turned to the team where he got his NFL start to make his first trade of this draft. Robinson worked 12 years for the Patriots before leaving for Tampa Bay. The Titans hired Robinson as their 13th general manager in January 2016.

The Titans swapped their first pick in the third round (No. 83 overall) and their lone fourth-round selection (No. 124) to move up in the third round. They also get the Patriots' fourth-round pick at No. 200. Tennessee still holds the 100th pick overall and 36th in the third round.

Then the Titans took a receiver in Taylor who broke his own school records as a senior last season, catching 98 passes for 1,730 yards and 17 touchdowns. He visited with the Rams, Lions, Seahawks, Eagles and Cardinals. Taylor said he was nearly speechless at being drafted by the team an hour away from where he played at Western Kentucky.

Asked about Mariota being his new quarterback, Taylor said he couldn't put that into words either.

"To play with a guy like that, I don't know what to say," Taylor said. "I'm definitely speechless. It doesn't get no better than playing with a quarterback like Marcus. He's great, and I know I'm going to be able to come in and learn. Day One, he's going to take me under his wing, and he's going to expect nothing but the best from me."

Robinson values proven production, and he got that with the first wide receiver taken in the draft in Davis. He returned for his senior year to add weight and improve his ball-catching skills, and the 6-3, 215-pound receiver caught a career-high 97 passes for 1,500 yards with 19 touchdowns.

(via The Associated Press)

The analysis from those producing content on does not necessarily represent the thoughts of the Indianapolis Colts organization. Any conjecture, analysis or opinions formed by content creators is not based on inside knowledge gained from team officials, players or staff.

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