The Tennessee Titans and the rest of the AFC South are on the rise.
Three of the four teams have franchise quarterbacks, while the other uses a historically potent defense to win the division.
However, each new league year is a slamming of the reset button, rendering the previous season irrelevant.
This makes the draft paramount — without quality draft classes, a team’s long-term success is under fire, with elite franchise quarterbacks being the only true extinguisher.
With that, which AFC South team will be impacted the most by an incredible performance in the 2018 draft?
No. 4) Jacksonville Jaguars
Jacksonville is a classic case study of why winning isn’t always a good thing.
Yes, you read that correctly.
Despite winning the AFC South and coming one dose of Tom Brady magic away from the Super Bowl, the unintended consequences of the 2017 season are potentially devastating for the Jaguars
The shocking success created a false narrative that Blake Bortles is a serviceable quarterback (This just in: He isn’t). Jacksonville also convinced themselves that an offense revolving around Leonard Fournette has the potential to yield positive results, even though the Jaguars were 7-6 with Fournette last season and 3-0 without him.
As a result of its complacency at quarterback, Jacksonville is now a defensive-centric team. Recent history proves that this model is doomed to collapse rather quickly — just look at Denver and Seattle. Both won Super Bowls, but both ignored offense to such a disturbing degree, they’ve experienced sharp declines.
Had Jacksonville maintained its brand of going 3-13 and holding a top five pick, they’d have access to this year’s solid quarterback class, but now, with the 29th overall pick, they’ll suffer the consequences of unnecessary success.
No. 3) Houston Texans
Houston has a potential franchise quarterback in Deshaun Watson, but lost this season’s first-round pick (which ended up being the fourth overall pick) in order to get him.
It was a necessary sacrifice for a franchise desperate for competent quarterback play, but now, the Texans find themselves in a precarious situation.
Watson is fresh off an ACL tear, and despite his absurd level of production, he was often asked to do too much in his seven appearances. That was due to a faulty offensive line and a defense who couldn’t stop anybody.
As previously mentioned, the sacrifice was necessary, but now, Houston is in a position where it must hit home runs during the later portions of the draft.
No. 2) Tennessee Titans
The Titans have their franchise quarterback, a pair of solid running backs, an elite offensive line, and a loaded secondary.
Needless to say, Jon Robinson’s savviness in the draft and free agency has built not only an AFC South contender, but an AFC contender in two short seasons.
However, Tennessee does have questions in the front seven. Unfortunately, this draft presents two problems — the Titans’ draft position (No. 25) and a lack of depth at linebacker and defensive line.
With only six picks in the draft, Robinson is likely to trade back at some point in order to accumulate picks.
Essentially, the Titans are in a position where they’re drafting for depth/fill super specific needs. Because of its lack of access to the draft’s elite talent, Tennessee has to largely depend on its current roster to contend for a Super Bowl.
No. 1) Indianapolis Colts
No team has a better chance at rapid ascension than the Indianapolis Colts.
Most of that is due to their performance in 2017 — there’s almost nowhere to go but up.
However, general manager Chris Ballard made two genius decisions — sit Andrew Luck (the best quarterback in the division when healthy) for the 2017 season, and trade out of the No. 3 slot — that puts Indianapolis in prime position to turn its fortunes.
Now with the No. 6 overall pick, the Colts will likely have access to Roquan Smith, Quenton Nelson, or Bradley Chubb. All three are immediate impact starters.
Furthermore, they have three second round picks which can quickly beef up their shallow roster.
All four teams in the AFC South have a case to win the division in 2018. However, no team has a chance to immediately make a sudden shift in fortunes than the Indianapolis Colts. They have an offensive-minded head coach from the defending champs, a truckload of draft capital, and more importantly, the division’s best quarterback.