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2012 NFL Team Needs: AFC South

By: Roshan Bhagat

Houston Texans: Interior OL, DL, OLB Depth, WR depth, CB, S depth
After reaching the playoffs and recording their first franchise postseason win in the same season with a late round rookie quarterback at the helm, the Texans will look to take the next step this season. They've done a tremendous job of drafting and proficiently using free agency to build their roster and scheme to a point where few weaknesses remain on paper. Arguably for the first time in franchise history, they are in a position to go purely on best player available. With the injury history of Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson, the Texans will want to build their reserves to help protect against injuries that could handicap the passing game. With TJ Yates, they'll feel comfortable at quarterback, but next to Andre Johnson, there's no truly starting caliber option. On the offensive line, the team is set at tackle with Duane Brown and Eric Winston (editor's note: Winston was released on 3/12), but the expiring contracts of center Chris Meyers and right guard Mike Brisiel threaten to set the dominant rushing attack back. Addressing this issue through re-signings, free agency replacements, or the draft will be at the forefront of the coming weeks and maybe months. On the other side, Wade Phillips brought in a scheme and plan to turn the defense around immediately. Along with their prized free agent signing in Jonathan Joseph, the Texans made significant strides despite losing their best player early in the season. If Mario Williams leaves and the Texans have to play without their former number one overall pick again, they'll want to ensure they have adequate depth to get to the quarterback. On the defensive line, there is room for upgrade at nose tackle and depth behind JJ Watt and Antonio Smith. Behind Joseph, the secondary was relatively hidden behind one of the league's best pass rushes. Improving the talent level at corner and safety won't be ignored if the right opportunity presents itself.

Indianapolis Colts: WR, OL, NT, CB, DE, LB depth
When a neck injury sidelined Manning for an entire year, the Colts were exposed as a one-dimensional team incapable of winning games without a potent offensive attack and a lead. Of course the Peyton Manning question will continue loom until a decision is reached and everyone has already penciled in Andrew Luck in the top slot, but the Colts have a lot of work to do before they're a team ready to reach the playoffs again. On offense, that means improving an offensive line that has struggled to even keep the ultra-heady Peyton Manning without pressure. It mean finding a starting wide receiver (or two) if they can't retain Reggie Wayne and/or Pierre Garcon. While it's very possible there's an unfamiliar face under center to begin the 2012 season, a potentially larger transformation will be seen on the other side of the ball. New coach Chuck Pagano will move the Colts from a Tampa 2 defense that allowed very scheme-specific players of diminutive size, but compensating athleticism to a 34 front that will demand more physicality out of every individual. Beginning up front, the defensive line will quickly see new faces brought in at nose tackle and defensive end with the old ones slowly phased out. Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis will move back to an unfamiliar outside linebacker position, but depth across the unit will quickly be in demand. In the secondary, small zone corners will look to be replaced with bigger ones more capable of playing strong man coverage.

Jacksonville Jaguars: WR, DE, CB, OL, FS, LB depth
Going into the offseason, the Jaguars front office almost assuredly has wide receiver atop their list of needs. With 415 yards, Mike Thomas was the team's leading receiver at season's end. While a big part of that number can be directly correlated to the rookie quarterback under center, the causation here is a two-way street. If the Jaguars are going to give Gabbert a fair shot, they will need to surround him with a weapon or two this offseason to give him the confidence he needs by means of an explosive receiver. Further, they'll need to address an offensive line that has some moving pieces. The Jaguars will most likely play Eben Britton at right tackle unless they can find an upgrade outside in which case they will swing him inside. At center, 34 year-old Brad Meester continues to play at a high level, but interior line depth should continue to be pursued. Defensively, the Jaguars and Rashean Mathis caught an unfortunate break when he shredded his ACL amidst his best season since he was named a Pro Bowler back in the 2006 season. They figured to be set with starting corners, but a 32 year-old Mathis coming off injury will bring uncertainty at best, which means depth at the position will be even more important. Free safety could be easily upgraded, but the talent appears to be missing in both the draft and free agent class. A high-potential mid-round pick would adequately fill the need. Depth at linebacker will also be brought into camp. But still their biggest weakness defensively is their perpetual nagging need at defensive end that never seems to be satisfied. No matter how they attempt to address the situation, it seems they're always met with some misfortune, be it by injury or bust. Still, with only 31 sacks on the year and their leading pass rushers from a year ago in Jeremy Mincey and Matt Roth without contract extensions, the need could be even further amplified if they can't strike a deal.

Tennessee Titans: DE, Interior OL, CB, SS, LB depth, WR
After committing such a large sum of money to Chris Johnson and expecting the run game to be the strength of the offense, the Titans must continue to protect their investment and build an identity on that side of the ball. While Johnson seemed slow out of the gates, his offensive line did him no favors and together the season quickly became a big disappointment. The interior offensive line will need some reinforcements this offseason. Jake Scott is a free agent and quite frankly didn't play that well. Paired next to Eugene Amano at center and the Titans struggled to get any push up the middle. Protecting against Kenny Britt's injury, the right wide receiver could tempt the Titans to look to the future of their passing game with Jake Locker. On defense, the floodgates may open and the roster may look significantly different with 10 free agents set to hit the market. Replacing what was not too long ago one of the best pass rushes in the game figures to be a high priority. At defensive end Derrick Morgan has not yet lived up to his billing, but even penciling him at one spot, Jason Jones, William Hayes, and Dave Ball are not guaranteed to be in Tennessee next year. At cornerback, the Titans decided not to use the franchise tag on Cortland Finnegan and appear to have minimal interest in re-signing him. While Alterraun Verner and Jason McCourty are a nice young corner tandem, depth behind them is a total unknown. At free safety, the Titans chose to tag Michael Griffin, but strong safety beside him is, again, an unknown. With three free agent linebackers, depth there may also be replenished through the draft.

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