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AFC South Has Busy First Round In 2017 NFL Draft
April 28, 2017 11:23 PM | Andrew Walker
It's easy to get excited if you're an Indianapolis Colts fan after Thursday night's first round of the 2017 NFL Draft, in which the team selected an electrifying, big-play safety out of Ohio State in Malik Hooker.

But if you weren't paying attention, you missed a hallmark night for not only the Colts, but for the entire AFC South Division.

All four AFC South teams -the Colts, Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans -were among the more notable movers and shakers in the first round, and all improved their teams in just one night.

In a division that has been pretty tight the last couple seasons, things might've just gotten tighter.

Here's a closer look at the moves made by each team:

Houston Texans

Deshaun Watson is the newest quarterback for the Houston Texans.

For now, the two-time Heisman Trophy finalist is also a backup.

The Texans addressed their need at the position by trading with Cleveland to select the Clemson standout with the 12th overall pick in the NFL draft on Thursday night. They traded away the 25th overall pick in this year's draft as well as their first-round selection next season to nab Watson.

The Browns already have Houston's second-round pick in 2018 after receiving it in the trade for Brock Osweiler this offseason. Houston was in desperate need of a quarterback after giving up on Osweiler and trading him away one inconsistent season after signing him to a $72 million contract in 2016.

Before the draft, Tom Savage and Brandon Weeden were the only quarterbacks on the roster. The Texans insist that they're OK with that.

"I don't know if people believe us but we're comfortable with Tom Savage as our quarterback," general manager Rick Smith said.

Coach Bill O'Brien agreed, adding: "As a rookie quarterback it's a big jump. Tom is our starter and Deshaun will come in and he's going to work hard and we're going to teach him and feed him a lot of information and he'll work at it."

Watson seems prepared to do whatever the Texans ask of him.

"All I need to do is put my head down, don't say anything, learn from all the veteran guys, learn from Tom Savage, learn from Brandon Weeden and just play my role," he said. "Whatever role that is play it well and help the team win."

This is the first time the Texans have selected a quarterback in the first round since taking David Carr with the first overall pick in their first season. They've had a revolving door at the position in recent years, starting eight different players since 2014.

In Watson they get a player who threw for 4,593 yards and 41 touchdowns last season to lead Clemson to the national title. He had 28 wins in his last two seasons and helped the Tigers to consecutive appearances in the national championship game. Watson went 32-3 in his career as a starter, which is the best winning percentage for a quarterback in school history. He finished his career third in Atlantic Coast Conference history with 12,094 yards of total offense and threw for 10,163 yards and 90 touchdowns in his career.

"One of the things that stood out to me was how well he played in clutch moments, in big games, in games that really meant everything - national championship games, big ACC games, the guy came through," O'Brien said. "When the chips were down he was able to lead his team to victory. And I think that says a lot about a quarterback. In the end, one of the things that we always look at is is the guy a winner and this guy is a winner ... I don't think anyone can argue with that."

(via The Associated Press)

Jacksonville Jaguars

Tom Coughlin wanted more offensive playmakers in Jacksonville. So it was no surprise to see him grab one of the best in college football over the last three years.

The Jaguars selected LSU star running back Leonard Fournette with the fourth overall pick in the NFL draft Thursday night, giving Coughlin the bruising back he craves in his return to the floundering franchise.

Fournette is expected to provide an immediate boost to one of the league's worst offenses and take some pressure off struggling quarterback Blake Bortles.

"He's special," said Coughlin, the team's executive vice president of football operations. "We need playmakers. We need people to put the ball in the end zone. We need to do something about balance. We need to do something about creating a better situation where the quarterback doesn't have the entire game on his shoulders. Certainly we have to improve the offensive line. Certainly we have a lot more work to do."

Fournette is a solid start. He ran for 3,840 yards and 40 touchdowns in three seasons in Baton Rouge, despite missing five games with an ankle injury in 2016. Fournette also opted to skip his bowl game in hopes of being healthier for the NFL combine.

It turned out to be a smart decision since he covered the 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds at combine, more than fast enough for a 230-pound back.

"A lot of people think I'm a big, bruising guy who can't make anybody miss if I don't run them over or hit them or anything," Fournette said. "I have a lot to show this season coming up - and I will."

Fournette averaged 6.2 yards a carry in his college career, providing must-see highlights on a weekly basis. He ran over linemen, made linebackers look silly and outran defensive backs.

The Jaguars have rushed for 13 touchdowns the last two seasons - the second-fewest in the NFL in that span - and five of those were by Bortles. So running the ball better was a priority for Coughlin, general manager Dave Caldwell and new head coach Doug Marrone.

Fournette's arrival means Chris Ivory and 2015 second-round pick T.J. Yeldon are headed to the bench.

(via The Associated Press)

Tennessee Titans

The Tennessee Titans headed into the draft needing to find more offensive help for quarterback Marcus Mariota while also boosting a defense that ranked 30th in the NFL against the pass last season.

With two first-round draft picks for the first time in three decades, the Titans addressed those concerns by selecting Western Michigan wide receiver Corey Davis with the fifth overall pick and versatile Southern California cornerback Adoree' Jackson at No. 18.

"We wanted playmakers - and we think we got two really good playmakers," general manager Jon Robinson said.

Davis and Jackson were two of college football's most productive performers last season.

Davis set a Football Bowl Subdivision record with 5,285 career yards receiving. Jackson won the 2016 Jim Thorpe Award as the nation's top defensive back and also tied an NCAA career record with eight combined touchdowns on kickoff and punt returns.

"Both Adoree' and Corey, they're very competitive players," coach Mike Mularkey said. "They're all football. They like it. They love football. When they go home, it's still going to be football."

Tennessee has been seeking more help for Mariota as the Titans chase their first playoff berth since 2008. The Titans got a breakout season last year from Rishard Matthews but need more wideouts.

Davis believes he can fit right in. He said before the draft that Mariota is his favorite NFL quarterback.

(via The Associated Press)

The analysis from those producing content on Colts.com does not necessarily represent the thoughts of the Indianapolis Colts organization. Any conjecture, analysis or opinions formed by Colts.com content creators is not based on inside knowledge gained from team officials, players or staff.
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