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August 23, 2012;Baltimore, MD, USA;Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Justin Blackmon (14) runs a route during the game against the Baltimore Ravens at M

A Look At The AFC South's 1st Round Picks

With three games done in the preseason for the AFC South squads, we can expect the first rounders from the 2012 draft to have few reps in the final game.  They have shown their worth and will be measured based on the work they have put in thus far.  They have won over their coaches with strong play, but will they stand out among their peers?  Andrew Luck met Rober Griffin III on Saturday and they both turned in strong rookie QB performances.  How does Andrew Luck stack up against Justin Blackmon, Kendall Wright, and Whitney Mercilus?

Let’s Take a peek:

  • Andrew Luck, QB – After three games, Peyton Manning’s replacement has gone 40/64 for 514 yards, three touchdowns, and two interceptions.  He has looked strong in the pocket, has a look of determination and great focus on almost every play, and he is winning over his teammates with the control he has of the offense.  On the whole, Luck is looking like everything he was promised to be: a franchise quarterback.
  • Justin Blackmon, WR - Blackmon has only played in two of the first three preseason games but has already established himself as the best receiver on the roster.  He has eight catches for 120 yards (15 yards per reception), and one touchdown.  He has outplayed defenders, catches the ball well out in front of him, and is easily the most aggressive and physical receiver the Jags have on their roster at this point.
  • Could Kendall Wright Outplay Justin Blackmon through the season? Source: Jim Brown-US PRESSWIRE

    Kendall Wright, WR – Wright it quickly making himself a strong receiver for the Titans. He has eight catches for 100 yards (12.5 yards per reception), and one touchdown.  He has looked the like the threat they need with Kenny Britt facing off-field struggles yet again.  Some, like myself, worried about his transition to the big leagues but he has shown that he can be an NFL caliber receiver.  With Jake Locker taking over at quarterback he may get even more targets.

  • Whitney Mercilus, OLB – Mercilus has to transition from defensive end to outside linebacker in Wade Phillips’ Houston defense.  Fortunately for the Texans, he appears to be doing just fine.  He has been in on six tackles and 2.5 sacks.  Reports are that he is making strides and earning more reps with the first-team offense.  He should be a solid addition to an already stout defense.

On the whole it looks like the AFC South is going to have a strong group of first-rounders that could transition into franchise keys for years to come.  So far, Luck will undoubtedly have the most effect on his team but it may be Wright that could have the most immediate effect and get the Titans over the hump and back into the playoffs – assuming Locker can hit him consistently.

- Luke N. Sims

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Tags: 2012 NFL Draft 2012 NFL Draft Rookies 2012 NFL Draft Round 1 2012 NFL Draft Selections AFC South Andrew Luck Houston Texans Indianapolis Colts Jacksonville Jaguars Jake Locker Justin Blackmon Kendall Wright Kenny Britt Peyton Manning Tennessee Titans Wade Phillips Whitney Mercilus

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