Enemy Intelligence: The other AFC South first-round picks

I’ll have more to say about the Titans taking Kendall Wright once I sleep on the pick, but for tonight I’ll stay in the world of knee jerk reactions and give my take on the first-round draft picks of the other AFC South teams.

Indianapolis Colts-1st overall-Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
Analysis: The Colts did what everybody thought they’d do and took the QB prospect everybody loved with the first overall pick. I’m not going to tell you anything earth-shattering about Luck. The worst-case scenario for the Colts is somebody every bit as good as the Falcons’ Matt Ryan is right now, but with better pocket presence. The best-case scenario for the Colts is he’s just as good as Peyton Manning, or to use somebody who has Luck’s level of athleticism, Aaron Rodgers. Why couldn’t the Colts have had the #1 pick when JaMarcus Russell came out?
Chances of long-term pain: High

Jacksonville Jaguars-5th overall-Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
Analysis: The Jaguars were pathetic at receiver last season. Mike Thomas was the only guy they had who’d be a top-three wideout on a decent team, and he wasn’t necessarily trying by the end of the season. Even when Blaine Gabbert started to adjust to the speed of the NFL game a bit, he had nothing to throw to because nobody was open. The Jags signed Laurent Robinson in free agency but realisitically still needed a player. Blackmon on paper is a good complement to Robinson, a player who played big in college and can catch short and intermediate passes. On the other hand, he’s not the kind of receiver who can beat Jason McCourty consistently on in-breaking routes. I was never as big a fan of Blackmon as many other people (think Anquan Boldin, not Andre Johnson), and thought he should’ve gone closer to thirty-fifth than fifth.
Chance of long-term pain: Low to moderate

Houston Texans-26th overall-Whitney Mercilus, OLB, Illinois
Analysis: Some people had Mercilus going to the Titans as a defensive end. As I indicated before the draft, I’m not a bit surprised that didn’t happen, as Mercilus only had one productive season and a lot of that productivity wasn’t necessarily the result of his individual dominance. Still, he was a promising player and the Texans had a big need for depth at OLB behind Brooks Reed and Connor Barwin. Mercilus probably won’t be a dominant player, but should be a solid contributor.
Chance of long-term pain: Fairly low, but that doesn’t make him a bad pick

More on Wright in the morning, and more on what the Colts’, Jaguars’, and Texans’ draft moves might mean to the Titans in 2012 and beyond once the draft is concluded.

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