The AFC South is seen by many NFL analyst as one of the weaker divisions in football. That can be a positive because it will take less improvement by the Jags to turn things around. The negative is a total lack of respect. Aside from the Colts, there is not much to be excited about right now in the AFC South, except for the impending NFL draft in which three of their teams will be picking in the top 11, and two in the top three. What I will be doing is ranking the AFC South at multiple positions. For now I will be going with the players who would be the presumed starters while attempting to take into consideration free agency and draft picks. We have completely ranked the offense (QB, RB, WR, TE & OL). Now we are focusing on the defense. We have completed DE, DT, & LBs. Now we’ll look at Cornerbacks. Let’s start ranking.
- Indianapolis Colts (Darius Butler, Greg Toler, nickel – Josh Gordy) / 89 tackles, 25 PDs, 6 INTs, 1 TD – The Colts CBs don’t get a lot of tackles but excel in all other areas. Though last in tackles…by a bunch…they were first or tied for first in every other defensive category. That is also with the #2 & #3 CBs (Vontae Davis & Cassius Vaughn) not listed per being UFAs. Those two alone contributed 76 tackles, 18 PDs, & 4 INTs. Even if the UFAs weren’t retained, the Indianapolis Colts have the best CBs in the AFC South.
- Jacksonville Jaguars (Dwayne Gratz, Alan Ball, nickel – Mike Harris) / 116 tackles, 19 PDs, 4 INTs, 0 TDs – Shocking but seemingly accurate rating here. More a statement of the weakness of this division but I also think a positive sign of a possibly quick turnaround to the positive for the Jags. The positives are two of the three starting CBs would be players drafted by the team so very young. Ball has only one year left on his two year deal and will hopefully help mentor a great successor. The negatives are that the Jags CBs led the division in tackles probably because they were having to pull down a receiver they were covering after beating their coverage. This will have to improve. These stats will improve more if the Jags re-sign UFA Will Blackmon, who added 40 tackles, 10 PDs, & 1 INT. With an improved pass rush and maybe a stud in the draft, we can start talking even higher, but for now the Jacksonville Jaguars possess the 2nd best CBs in the AFC South.
- Tennessee Titans (Jason McCourty, Coty Sensabaugh, Nickel – Blidi Wreh-Wilson) / 109 tackles, 18 PDs, 0 INTs, 1 TDs – A very underwhelming group that had no INTs in 2013. Major rehaul needed . If UFA Alterraun Verner is re-signed (57 tackles, 23 PDs, 5 INTs, 1 TD), then there will be a significant improvement. The Titans & Texans stats are amazingly similar. Because the average age of their current starters are a half year younger on average, the Tennessee Titans have the 3rd best CBs in the AFC South.
- Houston Texans (Kareem Jackson, Brice Mccain, nickel – Brandon Harris) / 108 tackles, 20 passes defended, 1 INT, 0 TDs – Interesting situation. The three presumed starters are all young guys and a little underwhelming. Everything that’s wrong with the Texan’s CBs can be tied to Johnathan Joseph. I have projected Joseph to be a salary cap casualty. He is a $11,250.00 cap hit in 2014. He is a $11,250.00 hit in 2014! That’s a cap killer. I don’t see a Texan team that needs some rebuilding be able to keep that on the books. If they keep him, they lose all cap flexibility. If they release him, then they will lose their best CB (47 tackles, 16 PDs, 3 INTs). Because of this nasty situation, the Houston Texans have the worse CBs in the AFC South.
The CB ratings played out how who finished first and who finished last. With the league each and every year becoming even more of a passing league, an improvement in this area can make a difference between first and last. One thing that really stood out in my investigation is that the Jags should look into Alterraun Verner. He’s entering his fifth year (check). He’s just turned 26 (Check). Last year, he had 5 INTs & 23 Passes defended. (CHECK!!!!). The only issue may be his height (5-10) and slight build (187). Gus Bradley has stated that the 6 foot plus CBs is a component but not a requirement. I hope they check him out!
I’ll see you next time when we rate the Safeties.
Ratings by Michael McDonald.
Write me on Twitter @gumbussy.