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AFC West Offseason Grades:

 

Houston Texans: For the Texans this offseason appeared to be addition by subtraction. Houston jettisoned last year’s free agent savior, quarterback Brock Osweiler, but gave up a second round choice to do so. Osweiler was replaced by rookie first round pick DeShaun Watson. While a change was needed as the team grew frustrated with Osweiler towards the end of last season, Watson was not their top choice, and the Texans likely could have done better in filling that hole had they not focused on Tony Romo exclusively. Certainly other veteran quarterbacks would have given them a better chance to win in 2017. Defensively the team lost a bunch of veteran talent while adding only Marcus Roberson through free agency and Carlos Watkins and Zach Cunningham in the draft. Cunningham should start early and Watkins will offer some talented depth along the defensive line. The secondary is now paper thin though, following the loss of AJ Bouye. Houston really had one job and I’m not sure they did it. Not having Osweiler will probably help them, but I have a hard time seeing how this team is going to score enough to keep up with the better teams. Offseason Grade: C-

 

Indianapolis Colts: The swapping of General Manager Ryan Grigson for Chris Ballard should pay dividends down the road. Ballard is a much better talent evaluator than Grigson ever was, and he shouldn’t have any trouble being more well liked either.  The Colts also enjoyed one of the better free agency periods of the year. Adding Johnathan Hankins, John Simon, and Jabaal Sheard, gives the team three young starters along the front seven that will be good building blocks for the future. Kamar Aiken will also settle in nicely as a fourth receiver for Andrew Luck. Malik Hooker falling to the Colts in the mid teens was fortunate. Quincey WIlson and Tarell Bashem are also future starters for the Colts, but the Colts really impressed with their third day selections, which yielded potential starters at linebacker in Anthony Walker Jr, at offensive line with Zach Banner, and running back with Marlon Mack. It looks like Ballard is going to do what Grigson couldn’t and build a team around Andrew Luck. The Colts are my pick for this division. Offseason Grade: A+

 

Jacksonville Jaguars: Count me among the Tom Coughlin sceptics, at least in the role of Football Tsar. Calais Campbell was a huge signing, as was AJ Bouye. Branden Albert was a nice addition, assuming he doesn’t retire. The team lost some starters along the offensive line and defensive front seven, but only players that disappointed during their tenure in Jacksonville. Leonard Fournette was as good a pick as the Jaguars could have made, and while Cam Robinson should excite the team, their insistence that he is a left tackle is optimistic to the point of delusion. Dede Westbrook gives the Jaguars a dangerous weapon from the slot but he comes with numerous off field concerns. The Jaguars are a better team than they have been but they need to get much better. Most of that will involve Blake Bortles playing up to his potential and adding Fournette, Westbrook and Albert should help him do just that. Offseason Grade: C+

 

Tennessee Titans: The surprise of the 2016 season, the Tennessee Titans, are the trendy playoff pick for the AFC. The secondary received an overhaul with Logan Ryan and Jonathan Cyprien entering as free agent additions and Adoree Jackson as one of the team’s two first round selections. Sylvester Williams was also a nice addition along the defensive line. Offensively the Titans clearly wanted to bring their receiving corps up to the same level of quality that their running backs and offensive line are at. Corey Davis is going to be a very good receiver in the NFL. I’m not sure he’s a dominating flanker, which makes me question the decision to take him at fifth overall. The Titans clearly disagree. Third round choice Taywan Taylor and free agent acquisition Eric Weems will join Rishard Matthews and Tajae Sharpe in the new look receiving corps, and should give, Marcus Mariota plenty of options. The Titans should be a better team, but their record might be worse, at least this year. Offseason Grade: C

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