NFL Draft Grades: AFC South
With the 2021 NFL Draft officially complete, theScore's NFL editors hand out their initial grades for how teams fared.
The Texans didn't own a pick over the first two rounds because of their trade for left tackle Laremy Tunsil, hurting the team's ability to retool its roster following a 4-12 season. That's why new general manager Nick Caserio executed so many depth moves during free agency. The Texans then needed to use their first pick on quarterback Davis Mills to give themselves additional insurance behind Deshaun Watson. Mills is an intriguing prospect. He possesses solid physical traits and might not be close to his ceiling after limited college experience. Collins was a great third-round selection, and he should provide some much-needed physicality to an undersized receiving corps. However, trading up for both Collins and Wallow with so few picks was a questionable decision from Houston.
The Colts entered the draft with two glaring needs: pass-rusher and left tackle. The AFC South squad aggressively retooled the former area with Paye and Odeyingbo in the first two rounds, while basically ignoring the latter. Paye is the type of uber-athlete Indy craves at defensive end, and he was arguably a top-15 talent. So snatching him at No. 21 was a dream start. While Odeyingbo is an intriguing prospect, he's coming off a torn Achilles and will be hard-pressed to be a factor in 2021. That's not ideal for a team clearly looking to win now after trading for Carson Wentz. Granson and Davis will fill depth needs, but the Colts could regret not addressing their offensive line until the seventh round.
Lawrence was a slam-dunk pick at No. 1. The quarterback is worthy of all the praise that was showered upon him during the lead-up to the draft. Taking a running back in the first round is always questionable, especially when the Jaguars needed to address a fair amount of needs, and they just unearthed James Robinson out of nowhere. But Etienne is undoubtedly an electric talent, and he'll help Lawrence - his former teammate - with the transition to the NFL. The rest of Urban Meyer's first draft in Jacksonville was filled with high-risk, high-reward moves. Campbell wasn't the best cornerback left on the board, but he fits with what the Jaguars want to do defensively. And Little hasn't played in two years after suffering a knee injury in 2019 and opting out last season.
Some believed Farley was the most talented cornerback in this year's class. But selecting the former Virginia Tech standout is a risky move after he suffered a serious back injury and underwent surgery in March. However, Tennessee has taken risks this high before with Jeffery Simmons in 2019 and Corey Davis in 2017, and both of those moves turned out well. If Farley is healthy, he can become a shutdown corner. Selecting Radunz filled a major need for the Titans, as he'll likely compete with Ty Sambrailo and Kendall Lamm for the right tackle spot from Day 1. We would've preferred to see the AFC South champions take a receiver earlier than they did to replace the departed Davis, but Fitzpatrick is an intriguing deep-threat option, and he's polished enough to push for a significant role early.
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