AFC South lands in the cellar of Division Rankings following the 2023 NFL Draft
The Jacksonville Jaguars are in a favorable position to compete for the playoff spot in 2023 but the same can't be said about the rest of the AFC South. While the Jags have a well-rounded roster, the Indianapolis Colts, the Houston Texans, and the Tennessee Titans have lots of catching up to do, which is why Maurice Moton of Bleacher Report thinks the AFC South is the worst division in the NFL right now.
Moton recently ranked all divisions and thinks the Jaguars have come a long way since coming crashing down in the 2017 AFC South Championship Game while their division foes are currently "trying to establish an identity or a culture".
"With the exception of the Jaguars, the AFC South will likely go through a lot of growing pains in 2023 because of inexperience at quarterback and changes within team coaching ranks."
The Jaguars were the only AFC South team with a winning record last year but for a moment, it looked like Tennessee was going to make the playoffs. However, they suffered a midseason collapse and finished the year on a seven-game losing skid.
The Titans tried to make as many upgrades as possible in the offseason but cap constraints limited their ability to target the top free agent in the open market.
Even if offensive tackle Peter Skoronski and Will Levis -- Tennessee's top two picks in the draft -- pan out, the Titans have too many roster holes to compete for a playoff berth in 2023, so it may be a year before they can make some serious noise in the AFC South.
The Colts are also undergoing a rebuild. After moving on from head coach Frank Reich last year, they brought in Shane Steichen to try to right the ship. Working in Steichen's favor is that he's got an intriguing quarterback to work with in Anthony Richardson. And while Richardson is ready, he'll lean on a protegee of his, Gardner Minshew.
Indy will have to clear several hurdles before they become a real threat in the AFC South but drafting Richardson and hiring Steichen are a couple of steps in the right direction.
Can the Texans challenge the Jaguars for the AFC South title?
Of all the non-Jaguars teams in the AFC South, the Texans were the ones that improved the most in the offseason. Besides signing players that will have an immediate impact such as tight end Dalton Schultz, running back David Singletary and linebacker Denzel Perryman, Houston found their quarterback in the future in C.J. Stroud and a potential building block in defensive end Will Anderson Jr.
Having said that, the Texans must make up plenty of ground before they have a realistic shot at winning the division. They're certainly on the right path under the direction of head coach DeMeco Ryans but they simply had too many holes to coming out of the 2022 season and might need one more year to fill them all.
Meanwhile, the Jaguars entered the offseason in solid shape and didn't need to make as many impact moves as their division rivals. While they lost right tackle Jawaan Taylor and defensive end Arden Key in free agency, Calvin Ridley was reinstated from his suspension, giving Trevor Lawrence yet another talented target.
On top of that, the Jaguars have an adequate in-house replacement for Taylor in Walker Little, who's ready for a feature role, and drafted Anton Harrison in the first round to ensure Lawrence has top-notch protection.
Where does the AFC South stand among all the division in the NFL?
As a whole, the AFC South pales in comparison to other divisions in the league. Outside the Jaguars, none of its teams might have a realistic shot at clinching a playoff spot. Then again, there are many divisions in the NFC that aren't in terrific shape, and most of them are in the bottom half of Moton's ranking.
Simply, the AFC South happens to have the most teams undergoing a rebuild but if its rookie quarterbacks hit their stride, it could move up several spots in the next division ranking. For the time being, the Jacksonville Jaguars will have to do the heavy lifting in the division.