My AFC South Roster Grades
Scoring System Summary - A+ = 10 D+ = 1 , All scores are added up then the average is found giving the score out of 10.
Overall Grade – B+ 6.6
Quarterback – C+
- Personally, I don’t believe Rivers is much of an upgrade over Jacoby Brissett. Rivers may have completed 66% of his passes and thrown for 4,615 yards but he threw 20 interceptions and is incredibly immobile, he’s a sitting duck back there which in 2020 is not what I want in my starting quarterback. Unlike Rivers, Brissett has the ability to take off for big runs and scramble, further, when the Colts were 5-2 to start 2019 Brissett completed 64.5% of his passes for 1,590 yards, 14 touchdowns and only 3 interceptions, he then suffered an injury and when he returned his season went quickly downhill.
Running Backs - B
- Marlon Mack is a good running back who is both fast and explosive when hitting the holes, but in my opinion is slightly overrated. He ran behind a top three offensive line and often behind the best guard in the league leading the charge, so a lot of his production comes from great blocks instead of his talent. I expect 2020 second round pick Jonathan Taylor to assume the starting role at some point in the season, Taylor is a very well built back with a elite all-day mentality which propelled him to three Big Ten rushing titles, amassing 6,174 rushing yards and 50 rushing touchdowns over 3 seasons. He might not be a good receiver, but he has home run speed, can run through tackles and is extremely tough. Nyheim Hines is the Colts 3rd option, although he is undersized, he’s got great speed and is a weapon out the backfield.
Wide Receivers – B
- A lot of people are very high on the Colts receiver core and while I agree they have huge potential they remain unproven. T.Y. Hilton struggled in 2019 but he remains one of the league’s top receivers when fully healthy, also when you look at his career yards per game they follow a pattern, 90, 70, 60, 90 and 50 in 2019 so could Hilton have another 90 yards per game season in 2020? However, Pittman Jr was drafted this offseason and Parris Campbell only played 7 games 3 of which he started before getting injured in 2019 so neither have yet proven their NFL ability but Campbell has lighting speed and Pittman is a big, fast and strong receiver with elite ball skills. Pascal will likely fall into the number 4 receiver spot but he’s capable of pushing Campbell for the number 3 spot.
Tight Ends – B-
- Jack Doyle is an underrated tight end and has been consistent throughout his career, he is a decent receiver and a good blocker. Trey Burton will forever remember for his ‘Philly Special’ touchdown but outside of that he has disappointed but on his cheap contract he has huge upside.
Offensive Line – A+
- Everyone knows the Colts have one of the best offensive lines in football headlined by 2019 6thoverall pick Quentin Nelson who many already view as a lock for Canton. The Colts also have two of the best tackles in football and one of the best centres, Castonzo is a great pass blocking tackle and Smith is an elite run blocker, Kelly is an incredibly balanced blocker as well as the quarterback of the offensive line. Glowinski is the only weakness, but he is a good run blocker who struggles against the pass.
Corner Backs – B-
- Cornerback is probably the Colts biggest weakness; Moore is a great run defender but an average cover corner and while Rhodes was once great in coverage and against the run, he is no longer a good corner and is in fact in my view well past his best. 2019 rookies Ya-Sin and Tell showed promise but still need to develop, Ya-Sin defended the run well but struggled in coverage and Tell performed well both against the run and in coverage but played limited snaps.
Safeties - B
- Malik Hooker will enter his 4th year in the league after being drafted 15th overall in 2017. While his play in coverage regressed in 2019, he remained a good run defender and will return back to his 2018 coverage play. Opposite Hooker is Willis who performed well as a rookie in 2019 defending both the run and covering well. Behind the Colts starters is rookie Julian Blackmon and veteran Tavon Wilson who provide great depth.
Edge Rushers - B
- The Colts edge ruhsers are very underrated, Justin Houston has almost been forgotten since being released by the Chiefs but went on to total 11 sacks and 13 tackles for loss in Indianapolis in 2019. Houston is a great pass rusher and a good run defender. Opposite Houston is Kemoko Turay and Ben Banogu, who were drafted in the 2nd round in 2018 and 2019. Turay played only 81 snaps in 2019 but Pro Football Focus gave him a 91 grade which is elite, if he can play even at 70% of this in 2020 the Colts will have a scary edge rusher duo. Banogu however had an awful rookie year despite his freak athletic ability, so he will hope to build on in his struggles in 2020.
Interior Defensive Line - A
- DeForest Buckner was traded to the Colts in the offseason, Buckner is an incredibly well-rounded interior lineman man, over the past two seasons he has totalled 19.5 sacks, 26 tackles for loss and 34 quarterback hits, while some analyst have argued whether he was worth the 1stround pick I believe he certainly was. After Buckner the Colts turn to Autry who is a good veteran defender with a balanced skill set and Lewis who regressed a lot from his rookie year and was not good by any means in 2019.
Linebackers – A+
- Darius Leonard is arguably the best tackling linebacker in the NFL and if he can improve in coverage, he could challenge Bobby Wagner for the league’s best overall linebacker. Bobby Okereke had an incredibly rookie year that flew under the radar he was one of the league’s best coverage linebackers. Walker is the Colts back-up linebacker, he is good in coverage but awful against the run.
Overall Grade – B 6.0
Quarterback – B-
- Tannehill had a great year, completing 70.3% of his passes with a 22-6 touchdown to interception ratio and a league leading 9.6 yards per attempt on course to leading his team to a 7-3 record and AFC Championship game. However, it’s tough to be sold on someone who wasn’t good for 6 years who suddenly became great.
Running Backs – A+
- Derrick Henry is the NFL’s best pure runner, his 2019 play-off run was record breaking and in fact overshadowed his elite regular season. Henry finished 1st in almost every relevant statistic and on course to the AFC Championship he set an All-Time record for the most rushing yards in an 8-game stretch in NFL history, from Week 10 he rushed 203 times for 1,273 yards, 11 touchdowns and averaged 6.27 yards per carry. Additionally, the idea that he is not an elusive or agile runner is also incorrect as according to Pro Football Focus since 2017 Henry’s 136 total missed tackles forced on the ground are 13 more than any other running back proving that he has the ability to not only run through you in the open field but also to make you miss.
Wide Receivers – B-
- Tennessee has young receiving corps with huge potential. A.J. Brown is the number one receiver after a great rookie season, he finished 18th in the 40-yard dash in 2019 but he plays a hell of a lot faster, Brown is one of the league’s best receivers after the catch. In 2019 he ranked 1st in yards after catch per receptions and 2nd in yards per reception out of those with over 80 targets. Davis was the 5th overall pick in 2017 and its safe to say so far, he’s a big bust, but if he can reach his 2018 level of play again, he could become a good number two receiver. Adam Humphries is their third option and is a very nice slot receiver.
Tight Ends – B-
- Jonnu Smith might not be the best route runner, but he has shown the ability to get open and make contested catches, but where he is truly unlocked is once the ball is in his hands. Smith is the most fluid runner I’ve seen at the tight end position, and once the ball is in his hands defenses can’t catch him or bring him down, hence ranking 2nd in yards after catch per reception.
Offensive Line - B
- The Titans offensive line can’t be underestimated, without them Henry might not have had his record-breaking year. Lewan is a great almost elite left tackle who can block the pass and run at a very high level. Opposite from Lewan the Titans have two options, Kelly who is a good veteran pass blocker and rookie first round pick Isaiah Wilson who is a big tackle with incredible physical traits. The entire of their offensive line is just as good, Saffold is a 10-year veteran who is good against the run and pass, Jones is a good run blocker and close to elite against the pass. The only issue on the entire offensive line is Davis who struggled as a rookie in 2019 and was bad all round.
Corner Backs – B-
- The Titans have a decent corner unit headlined by Adoree Jackson who is a do it all corner, he is good in coverage, against the run and as pass rusher. Next to Jackson is Malcolm Butler, who while he hasn’t been great since 2016 is still an above average run and cover corner with elite pass rushing ability from the corner spot. Rookie Kristian Fulton and 36-year-old veteran Jonathan Joseph finish up the unit, Joseph is old but still plays high snaps due to his good cover skills, Fulton has good size and is great against the press to the extent he allowed only 40% completion rate against him since 2018.
Safeties - A
- Kevin Byard had a slight down year in 2019 but he still remains an elite safety, Byard is an elite run defender and great in coverage, with the ability to also be great when blitzing, he can truly do it all and has 17 interceptions over the past 3 seasons. Alongside Byard is Kenny Vaccaro a 7-year veteran who is a good run defender and like Byard blitzes at a very high level.
Edge Rushers – C+
- Pass rusher are the Titans biggest weakness, Harold Landry had a good 2nd year with 9 sacks and 12 tackles for loss as well as some good play against the run. However, apart from Landry, Vic Beasley and Correa simply aren’t going to get it done. Beasley had one good year in 2016 where he was All-Pro with 15.5 sacks and while his 9 sacks last year looked good, they didn’t reflect the truth of how he played, Correa is a good rotational piece but not starter quality if he is forced to start over Beasley.
Interior Defensive Line – B-
- The interior of Tennessee’s defensive line is heavily run stopping inclined, 2019 19th overall pick Jeffery Simmons had a good rookie year as a young run defender and developing pass rusher, DaQuan Jones is a good run stuffer and Mack had a decent rookie year against the run. However, overall, they have very little pass rush presence.
Linebackers - B
- Evans and Brown pair very well similar to how the Bills linebacker do, Rashaan Evans is a good run defender but is by no means good in coverage and Jayon Brown is good in coverage and average against the run. So, while they both have relatively large weaknesses when utilised for their strengths, they have a good linebacker duo.
Overall Grade – B 5.6
Quarterback – A-
- Deshaun Watson is a superstar quarterback with all the tools to one day be a hall of fame quarterback, he has natural accuracy short, intermediate and deep, he is very mobile and has natural escapability as well as possessing some of the best intangibles the NFL as seen in recent years, he is a leader of men and lays his heart, soul and body on the line for his team as well as incredibly clutch.
Running Backs – C+
- Running backs are going to have limited success anyway playing behind the Texans offensive line but they really need to get Deshaun some help. Once upon a time David Johnson was a lesser version of Christian McCaffrey but after his injury he has regressed and looks like he has lost a significant step. Duke Johnson is a good running and receiving back but is undersized and has had limited snaps his entire career.
Wide Receivers – B+
- The Texans have a plethora of talent at the receiver position going 4 deep but none of them make up for the loss of DeAndre Hopkins. Will Fuller is straight up fast and when healthy an elite deep threat receiver with an incredible chemistry with Watson, but he has proven to be injury prone playing only 42 out of 64 games since entering the league. Brandin Cooks isn’t going to out strength defenders or go up and get it but instead he will destroy teams with finesse, Cooks has elite speed, elusiveness and shiftiness whilst also being a great route runner with safe hands. Cooks is the first player in NFL history with 1,000 receiving yards with 3 teams, which I believe will become 4 in 2020. Although I don’t like the signing of Cobb, he is still a productive veteran slot receiver and performed well in Dallas in 2019. Kenny Stills similar to Cobb is a good veteran receiver who has had an up and down career but as a 3rd or 4th option he is great.
Tight Ends – C+
- Darren Fells may have struggled at his 3 previous destinations but in Houston, Deshaun made a great RedZone threat out of him as well as a trusted 3rd down target. Fells caught all 8 of his touchdowns in the RedZone while catching 12 of his 14 targets. Fells was also big on 3rd downs catching 12 of 16 targets for 8 first downs. However, outside of these scenarios Fells has little effect on the offense.
Offensive Line – C+
- Laremy Tunsil was a great addition to the Texans offensive line it was the compensation they gave up getting him and the huge contract they paid him that was questionable. Tunsil is an elite pass blocker who is also good blocking for the run, however, the rest of the offensive line cannot block the run, Scharping and Fulton are both good pass blocker and Martin is a great one but all 3 are not good at all blocking the run. Tytus Howard who was drafted 23rd overall in 2019 was an average pass blocker and like the others bad blocking for the run game. However, given the Texans have an offensive line full of pass blocker questions need to be asked how well play as a unit etc as they still allowed Watson to be sacked 44 times the 6th most in the NFL, and while that is better than the league leading 62 in 2018 it is still by no means good.
Corner Backs – C+
- Roby and Conley are the Texans starting corners and while both are decent corners neither are starting quality. Conley’s play as decreased as his snaps have increased and he struggles in coverage. Roby had some good years playing in Denver with Talib and Harris but once he became the guy his play fell off. Lonnie Johnson has some upside and will reportedly return to playing corner after spending his rookie season at safety, in which PFF ranked him 115th out of 115 graded safeties, fortunately Johnson can’t get much worse in 2020.
Safeties – B-
- Justin Reid is a very nice safety and has the potential to develop into a franchise one, he is good in coverage and can take the ball away with 5 interceptions in 2 years as well as the ability to play well against the run. It’s the safety opposite Reid that causes problems, Lonnie Johnson clearly wasn’t the solution in 2019 and Houston are now hoping career backup Eric Murray will fill that hole in 2020 after signing him to a 3-year $18 million deal.
Edge Rushers – A+
- J.J. Watt is a future hall of famer and All-Time great. He is a 3-time defensive player of the yearn and 5-time first team All-Pro. When healthy J.J. was undisputedly the best defensive player in football with 119 tackles for loss, 69 sacks and 15 forced fumbles between 2012-2015 but over the last 4 years he has only played one full season due to injuries and that was 2018, where he once again made first team All-Pro had 16 sacks, 18 tackles for loss and 7 forced fumbles, hence, when healthy J.J. Watt is in my opinion the most dominant rusher in all of football. Mercilus who plays opposite Watt simply hasn’t been the same since 2016, with only 12.5 sacks over 3 years, and while that is likely due to not benefitting from playing with Watt, he didn’t have a resurgence in 2018 when watt returned. The Texans also drafted Jonathan Greenard in the 3rd round of the 2020 draft, Greenard is an athletic, smart edge rusher with flashes as both a run defender and pass rusher with traits that predict NFL success.
Interior Defensive Line - C
- Although J.J. Watt rotates his position on the defensive line to at time play in the interior, the usual starters in the interior are one of the worst units in the NFL. 2nd round rookie Ross Blacklock will lead the unit but according to scouts he is a hit or miss run defender but a relentless pass rusher with elite lateral quickness and change of direction, so although he will provide a great pass rush presence he does not help against the run which they graded 8th worst in in 2019. Omenihu played like a 5th round pick in his rookie year and P.J. Hall was released by the Raiders for a reason after being drafted in the 2nd round in 2018, he is a decent run defender but more of a rotational piece.
Linebackers – B+
- The Texans have a great linebacker duo that is built perfectly for their division where they see Henry, Fournette and the Colts run attack twice a year. Both McKinney and Cunningham are tall, big and strong linebackers who are both great against the run. While McKinney is decent against coverage Cunningham is not great. However, that does not disqualify how great they are against the run. Dylan Cole is also a decent rotational linebacker who has shown flashes of elite play in coverage.
Overall Grade – C+ 4.4
Quarterback - C
- Gardener Minshew was good in his rookie year finishing with 21 touchdowns to 6 interceptions as well as 233 yards per game. If Minshew can continue this productivity I see no reason why he cannot be a good starter in the NFL, However, the cards are stacked against him, as not only was he a 6th round pick but the Jaguars are rebuilding which will likely have a negative on Minshew’s play.
Running Backs - B
- Leonard Fournette was a beast in college and has been in a beast in the pros, his hard-nosed powerful running style has made him a formidable force and hard to bring down. Fournette has elite straight-line speed that compares well to the NFL’s best, while it is one of Fournette’s strengths it is also his biggest weakness. Fournette has close to no lateral quickness, agility or speed in his game. 7-year veteran Chris Thompson will back up Fournette and while his isn’t a great runner he is a good receiving back and will take some of the load off Fournette’s shoulders.
Wide Receivers – B-
- The Jaguars have a plethora of talented young receivers: D.J. Chark, Laviska Shenault, Dede Westbrook, Chris Conley, Keelan Cole and Colin Johnson. Chark had a breakout year in 2019 with 1,008 yards and 8 touchdowns, however, I’m not sure he can keep up that level of play with the numerous other options. Dede Westbrook is a nice athletic 2nd or 3rd option and Shenault is a potential future superstar, he is a talented three-level threat with incredible physical ability and ball skills. He is an explosive playmaker with the ability to take a short catch to the house as well as leap up and pluck a deep bomb from the air. Cole and Conley will likely fight for the 4th receiver spot and 6ft 6 rookie Johnson will likely have to wait to see snaps.
Tight Ends - C
- A lot of people are very high on Tyler Eifert but personally I’m bored of his hype, sure he has shown the ability to be great, but he can’t sustain it and is incredibly injury prone. Josh Oliver only played 4 games in his rookie year and in those games, he struggled, if he can develop he will likely be the starter when Eifert undoubtably gets injured.
Offensive Line – C+
- The Jaguars have invested draft capital and salary space into their offensive line but simply it’s been to no avail. Linder is a great premier center but can carry the line by himself. Norwell signed a big contract in 2018 but ever since arriving in Jacksonville has regressed from his high level of play in Carolina. Cann used to be a good pass blocker but like Norwell has regressed in recent years. Both tackles are weak spots for Jacksonville, Cam Robinson has never lived up to his 34th overall pick in 2017 and simply hasn’t been good for 3 years now so progression is unlikely. Jawaan Taylor was also a 2nd round pick but in 2019 and while he had a decent rookie season, he struggled a lot against the run, however, unlike Robinson he still has time to develop into a good tackle.
Corner Backs – D+
- The Jaguars managed to go from the best cornerback unit in the NFL in 2017 to the worst in 2020. Trey Herndon, Rashaad Melvin and D.J. Hayden are all 3rd maybe 4th options for the majority of NFL teams. C.J. Henderson was drafted 9th overall this offseason and will likely be the starter from day one. According to scouts Henderson has mirror-and-match footwork and the athleticism to stay connected to receivers during routes. He has NFL level recovery burst and the long speed to follow routes downfield. He also has the acceleration to jump a throw and take it away if the quarterback waits on the throw.
Safeties - C
- Jacksonville’s safety unit isn’t much better than their cornerback unit, Ronnie Harrison is decent in coverage but bad against the run and Jarrod Wilson is a good coverage safety, but neither are particularly great.
Edge Rushers – B+
- Although Yannik Ngakoue will likely get traded as currently situated he is a Jaguar and arguably the best Jaguar. Ngakoue may lack a power move but he has still been extremely productive from moment go in the NFL with 37.5 sacks, 85 quarterback hits and 42 tackles for loss in 4 years. Josh Allen is also an elite level talent with huge potential, in his final year of college he had 17 sacks and 21.5 tackles for loss which transferred right across to the NFL with 11 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks in his rookie year which flew under the radar due to the emergence of Nick Bosa. The Jaguars also added K’Lavon Chaisson to the unit with the 17th pick in the 2020 draft. Chaisson is going to be a superstar in my opinion, he has a diverse set of mouldable pass-rushing moves, as well fluidity and agility at 6ft 3 and 254 lbs which allows him to dip his shoulder, turn the edge and change direction to break through holes or slip past blockers, although Chaisson is a great rusher he will likely be a liability against the run early in his career as he isn’t that physical against the run.
Interior Defensive Line – B-
- The Jaguars interior defensive line like their cornerback unit has really fallen from grace. Abry Jones and Al Woods are good veteran run stoppers but are most rotational pieces at this stage of their careers. Taven Bryan will likely finally get the opportunity to be a consistent starter after developing nicely over the last 2 seasons after being drafted 29th overall. Tim Jernigan will probably also start alongside Bryan but like all 3 of the Jaguars other interior defenders he has no real pass rush presence but is a great run defender. Although they lack pass rush ability their edge rushers lack the ability to stop the run at a good level so if used right, they could still have a good defensive front.
Linebackers – B+
Both of Jacksonville’s current linebackers had rough 2019 seasons but I believe they will both bounce back. Myles Jack was really bad in 2019 but has shown so far in his career that he can stop the run and cover at a good level. The Jaguars brought Joe Schobert in this offseason and signed him to a big 5-year $53.75 million deal, Schobert has struggled against the run throughout his career but as shown in 2018 he is one of the few elite cover linebacker