AFC South 2018 Draft Steals

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Houston Texans-Justin Reid

I don’t really understand how Justin Reid fell all the way to the Texans at the top of the third round. Before the draft, Reid looked like a first round pick with great measurables, tape, and athleticism. His fall might have been due to his brother Eric Reids kneeling issue, but the two are different people and if that was the reason every NFL team should be shaking their heads. Reid is a former Stanford player, Stanford knows how to develops solid NFL prospects. Reid also about learned the NFL game from his former pro bowl brother Eric. Reid is what NFL teams look for in a safety as he possesses plus speed/size and his instincts make him a ball hawk in the back end.

The Texans are a team that lacked star power in their defensive back group, they also lack speed which showed last year as they were the worst team in the NFL when it came to deep ball defense. Houston brought in Tyrann Mathieu to help with that group and then brought in Justin Reid to start alongside Mathieu, that combo instantly looks like one of the better safety combos in the NFL. At the combine Reid tested well with a 4.4 40 yard dash time to go along with a 36.5 inch vertical jump, both impressive numbers for his position. Reid is a smart player, he is rarely caught out of position and has NFL caliber reaction time. His speed and anticipation make him a ball hawk, which showed in his impressive Junior season when he was able to nab 5 interceptions. Reid can not only play deep but is a physical safety that can elude blockers and get to the quarterback or running back and can tackle with a punch when doing so. Reid’s smart and instinctive play makes him a threatening player at safety and should immediately start over Andre Hal at free safety. Don’t forget that the Texans boast a strong and physical front seven that will allow Reid to make plays at his position. Reid doesn’t have many flaws to his game which made it absolutely ridiculous that he fell as far as he did, the Texans did not have a first or second round pick but got an all-pro type player in Reid in the 3rd round. Reid was not only a steal for the Texans, he was the steal of the entire draft.

Tennessee Titans-Harold Landry

If you were watching the draft we can just call this player “Honor Landry” due to Vince Young’s botching of his name, and it truly was an honor that the Titans were able to select this edge rusher out of Boston College in the second round. While Landry lacks premium size off of the edge, he makes up for that in length, burst, and bend off the edge. He had a disappointing senior year at Boston College due to injuries which made him fall to the second round. His junior year was outstanding as he totaled 16.5 sacks, 22 tackles for loss, and 7 forced fumbles. He should immediately start on the edge for the Titans with Brian Orakpo on the other side.

Landry is explosive off of the edge which throws off offensive lineman when he meets the lineman he can get past them with his excellent bend. Landry uses his loose hips and strong upper body to create a leaning target that is hard to throw off. Landry is not just an excellent pass rusher as he is solid in run defense. Landry’s burst and elite athleticism make him one of the best pure pass rushers in the 2018 NFL draft, actually, the best pure pass rusher. If Landry were to go into the 2017 draft after his monstrous 2016 campaign he would have been a surefire top 20 pick in the draft, but, his ankle injury in 2017 hurt his draft stock and made him unproductive in his final season at Boston College. If Landry can regain his 2016 form he can become a dominant pass rusher in the AFC South which is slowly turning into a stud division. Landry’s burst and speed remind me of Vic Beasley coming out of the draft and he could produce just like him in 2018.

Jacksonville Jaguars-Ronnie Harrison

I’ll admit, I wasn’t the biggest fan of the Jaguars 2018 Draft, as I thought they could have went quarterback a little earlier than they did to push Blake Bortles. The Jaguars continued to bolster their already scary defense by selecting Taven Bryan in the first and then selected safety Ronnie Harrison in the third round. These picks signal that the Jaguars are looking to build their defense for the future. The Jaguars will have to resign Bouye and Ramsey among other defensive players eventually and are looking to find replacements for some defensive players that they might lose when they are unable to resign the complete defense that they currently have. Harrison is one of those picks that is insurance for the future. Ronnie Harrison should compete for Barry Church’s spot at strong safety immediately, as he possesses the right body and play style for it.

Harrison is a 6’2” safety out of Alabama who is a fluid athlete and is versatile enough to line up at different positions all over the field. He is a big hitter type of player as he often came in looking to hit shoulder first while at Alabama, this will need to be cleaned up. Harrison is comfortable playing in either the box or deep, as he is physical and big but also possesses good speed. Where Harrison needs improvement is in coverage, though, he does read the quarterbacks eyes he is unable to make the right play in coverage most of the time, that’s why I would prefer him to player dime linebacker or box safety in his first years in the NFL. Where Harrison does excel is in the running game as he is physical and looks to shed blocks instantly. The Jaguars have a weapon in Ronnie Harrison, he should be used mainly as a blitzing safety in his first few years until he can shore up his inconsistent coverage game. I really like this pick because he does not have to start in his first few years but will see time on running downs. If Harrison can correct his coverage mistakes he could be a huge steal for the Jaguars as he is already one of the better run and blitzing safeties in the 2018 draft class.

Indianapolis Colts-Nyheim Hines

The Colts are looking to put weapons and a strong offensive line around Andrew Luck when he inevitably returns. The Colts drafted plenty of offensive lineman in the 2018 draft, which I loved. Quenton Nelson is one of the best guard prospects I have ever seen but their real steal comes in the 4th round when they selected speedster Nyheim Hines out of NC State. Hines will pair with Marlon Mack to create a stronger running game in Indianapolis, which they have lacked for some time now. Hines will not start for the Colts but will be featured in the passing game as he has impressive agility and speed for east to west situations. His 4.38 forty yard dash was the fasted for all running backs in the 2018 combine.

Hines will most likely be used as a third down running back in his rookie season, while Marlon Mack will shoulder most of the workload for the rest of the game. The 5’9” Hines is an explosive player as his speed and agility make him a nightmare to tackle. His pass catching ability and dynamic running style will make him a threat on third downs as he can create yards with his feet and speed alone after catching the ball. Hines is best suited on inside zone runs, where he can create home run types plays after bursting through holes. Hines is a toy for offensive coordinators as he is not a bell cow type back, instead, he is a back that will be able to keep the sticks moving with his ability to work behind the line of scrimmage. The Colts lack these types of weapons and Andrew Luck can make the best of him off of screen plays or just letting him take the ball up the middle. Look for Hines to play consistent snaps on passing downs early in his career. The Colts got themselves a steal in Hines, he will pair with Marlon Mack to create a strong young running back group in Indiana for Andrew Luck to pair up with.

-Danny Duncan

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