Commentary

AFC South: Colts' dominance continues in draft

Originally Published: April 27, 2008
By Pat Yasinskas | ESPN.com

On the surface, the AFC South might have had the most boring draft of any division.

DRAFT DIVISIONAL REVIEWS
• Walker: NFC East draft review
• Sando: NFC West draft review
• Willamson: NFC North draft review
• Yasinskas: NFC South draft review
• Sando: AFC East draft review
• Williamson: AFC West draft review
• Walker: AFC North draft review
• Yasinskas: AFC South draft review

The Colts didn't pick until late in the second round and the only skill-position player taken in the first two rounds was an undersized running back. But this draft class has the potential to make a big impact on the division.

If things work out, Jacksonville suddenly has a pass rush, the Texans filled a couple of more holes, the Titans landed a home run threat and the Colts continued to stockpile the kind of talent that will keep them a Super Bowl contender for years to come.

Here is a breakdown of this weekend's draft within the AFC South:

Best move


[+] EnlargeMike Pollack
AP Photo/Michael ConroyArizona State center Mike Pollack will be the understudy of Colts Pro Bowler Jeff Saturday.
There's a reason why coach Tony Dungy and general manager Bill Polian have had such a successful tenure in Indianapolis. They're always thinking one, maybe even two, steps ahead of everyone else. Without a first-round pick (they traded it to San Francisco last year to get tackle Tony Ugoh), Dungy and Polian didn't try to make up for it by reaching for an immediate need in the second round.

With the No. 59 overall pick, they drafted Arizona State center Mike Pollack, who really was the best player on the Colts' draft board. The Colts already have a very solid center in Jeff Saturday, but he is getting older.

The beauty of this move is Pollack will get to spend a season learning from Saturday and the Colts won't have to draft a center next year.

Riskiest move


The Jaguars may have been only two players away from being a legitimate Super Bowl contender. Those two players better be defensive ends Derrick Harvey and Quentin Groves, because Jacksonville gave up a lot to get them. The Jaguars started the day with the No. 26 pick, but packaged it with two third-round picks and a fourth-round choice to jump up to No. 8 to grab Harvey, a University of Florida product.

The Jaguars didn't stop there. They swapped second-round picks with Tampa Bay and also parted with a fifth-round choice this year and a seventh-round pick in 2009. Both rookies probably will have to start immediately and the results better come quickly.

Then again, even if Harvey and Groves have some growing pains, they at least give the Jaguars more of a pass-rush threat than they've had the past couple of years.

Most surprising move


After using a second-round pick in each of the past two drafts to get running backs LenDale White and Chris Henry, the Titans, who had lots of needs elsewhere (mainly wide receiver), turned around and used a first-round pick on East Carolina running back Chris Johnson.

Henry hasn't shown much and this move is probably a sign the Titans don't think he's going to work out. But White was a 1,000-yard rusher last season and the Titans probably don't need a new starter. They probably didn't get one because Johnson is undersized and may be nothing more than a third-down back. Johnson is explosive and could provide a nice complement to White, but you don't draft complementary players in the first round.

File it away


A couple of months ago, an NFL scout was asked if West Virginia's Steve Slaton was too small to be an effective NFL running back.

"Yeah, and Warrick Dunn was too small, too," the scout said sarcastically.

Obviously, Dunn's career turned out pretty well in Tampa Bay and Atlanta. Maybe the comparison's a little premature, but the Texans obviously think Slaton has some potential after taking him in the third round. At 5-foot-9 and 198 pounds, Slaton is small, but he's also extremely quick. Give him a year or two as a third-down back as Ahman Green gets closer to the end of his career.

Maybe Slaton can bulk up a bit and the Texans, who used a first-round pick on Virginia Tech offensive tackle Duane Brown, will continue their perpetual crusade to improve their offensive line. One of these days, the Texans will have a decent offensive line. When that happens, it would be nice to have a home run threat like Slaton.

Pat Yasinskas covers the NFL for ESPN.com.

Pat Yasinskas | email

ESPN Tampa Bay Buccaneers reporter