Editor’s note: Will’s views can also be found on A Chester Minute podcast
Indy’s major issue over the past six seasons has been defense. Ryan Grigson’s only successful moves as a GM was drafting Andrew Luck (RJ could’ve done that) and getting Tom Brady suspended for 4 games (we’re not going to talk about deflategate). SO where does that leave the Colts? Well, second year GM Chris Ballard needs to rebuild the defense, which he began doing when he drafted Malik Hooker last year, and protect their QB. While I understand the temptation to draft Saquon Barkley at number 3, the Colts should draft a star defensive player or trade back and draft an offensive lineman.
This is all assuming Andrew Luck is healthy, but even if he isn’t I don’t think the Colts draft a quarterback in this year’s draft. If they do need a new quarterback it will probably happen next year; at which point either of the moves laid out above will only strengthen the team.
Mike Vrabel and Jon Robinson both come from the Belichick tree, and they would love to start owning this division like the Patriots have owned the AFC East. The first step, and ultimately what will make or break Vrabel’s time in Tennessee is the offense he has Marcus Mariota run. Matt LaFleur comes over from the Rams, so he will try to help remake Mariota in the way he was a part of remaking Jared Goff this past year. Offensively the pieces seem to be there, after Jack Conklin comes back from the knee injury suffered in the playoffs the Titans will have a solid offensive line, 2017 top 5 pick Corey Davis and Rishard Matthews at WR, Delanie Walker at TE and at worst Derrick Henry to hand the ball off to.
The key will be consistency on offense and improved defense. While the corners should be a strength next year, they could use help elsewhere. In theory Vrabel should help improve the defense but drafting front seven help is usually not a bad call, especially when you need to beat Ben Roethlisberger or Tom Brady to get to the super bowl.
The Texans are one year removed from being in the playoffs and seem to be better at quarterback than any other time in Bill O’Brien’s time as head coach. Watson should be able to return from his torn ACL, the question is if he can play to the level he briefly did throughout his career. If Watson can play to this level, there isn’t too much the Texans need. O-line help is never a wrong way to go and cornerback probably needs to be addressed, but if the Texans can stay healthy they can contend for a playoff spot.
After signing Blake Bortles to an extension, the Jags are in a position where they can draft the best player available. Their defense will probably not be as good as last year simply because they will regress to the mean, but they should play to a championship level for the next few years. That being said they could use some low cost rookies on defense. I would recommend using the early rounds to get Bortles some more weapons on offense as Mercedes Lewis isn’t getting any younger and Allen Robinson is a free agent. The later rounds could then be used on depth and developmental defensive help.
While the Bortles question will need to be answered every offseason, in 2017 he almost led them to a super bowl in which he would have played Nick Foles. Had the Jaguars held on against the Pats, Blake Bortles very well may have a super bowl ring and an even more lucrative contract extension.