AFC South: Time to think defense

Cris Carter
Yahoo! Sports

Cris Carter's draft analysis:
Overview | AFC: East - North - South - West | NFC: East - North - South - West

Craig James' draft analysis:
Overview - QBs - WRs - More offense - Defense

Editor's note: As part of Yahoo! Sports' coverage of the NFL draft, Cris Carter will break down the needs of each NFL team leading up to draft day.

Indianapolis Colts
Led by co-MVP Peyton Manning, the Colts scored nearly 28 points a game last season and finished with a 12-4 record. Manning and his offensive weapons return intact, shifting the team's focus to defense in the upcoming draft.

Tony Dungy is a defensive-minded coach. He wants to improve that group in the draft. Ultimately, he would like to mold a defense that mirrors the one he had in Tampa Bay.

Dungy's coverage unit is up in the air right now and the Colts will look for a cornerback and a safety in the draft.

A good match for the Colts at No. 29 could be Sean Jones, a safety out of Georgia. Jones has very good ball-hawking skills and is a great tackler. As a junior last season, he recorded more than 100 tackles, and I am sure that the people in Indy are keeping an eye on him.

But if one of the top three cornerbacks slide down to this position, don't be surprised if the Colts jump at the opportunity rather than drafting a safety. Cornerbacks are harder to find than safeties.

Tennessee Titans
Much like the Colts, the Titans can thank their quarterback for a 12-4 record last season. Steve McNair overcame injuries on the way to winning a share of the MVP award. His injuries point to a hole that the Titans will look to address in the NFL draft starting at No. 27 in the first round.

Tennessee needs to find a way to protect McNair by improving its offensive line. McNair is its franchise cornerstone. The Titans need to keep him healthy for the whole season.

But the Titans also need to fill holes on the defensive line after a costly offseason. They lost Jevon Kearse and Robaire Smith to free agency. Those two combined for 15 of the team's 38 sacks last season, and the team sorely will miss their quarterback pressure.

This is not a marquee draft for defensive linemen. And at No. 27, the Titans may not get what they are seeking. They will look for a defensive lineman first, but may have to settle for an offensive lineman in the opening round.

Jacksonville Jaguars
For first-year coach Jack Del Rio, the Jaguars finished 5-11 last season. They hold the ninth pick in the first round. Jacksonville had a good draft last year and looks to build on some momentum.

Most people realize that the Jaguars need a wide receiver. And with the collection of receivers in this year's draft, Jacksonville has a great opportunity to get a new, young weapon.

But I think the Jaguars have a greater need at defensive end. They had just 24 sacks last season and need to find someone who can get to the quarterback – someone that has the same mentality that Del Rio had when he played in the NFL.

Houston Texans
The Texans were 5-11 last year in the franchise's second season. They have done a good job developing talent from the two previous drafts but still have some holes. The Texans own pick No. 10 in the first round.

In two seasons, the Texans have had trouble rushing the quarterback. But they do have hope, with a good nucleus of guys who just need to learn to play together.

That said, if one of those premier pass rushers drops to the 10th spot, the Texans will take him. But right now, I think Houston will concentrate on cover people and go with a cornerback. Dunta Robinson of South Carolina jumps out at me as a good possibility for Houston. He has great skills and will be hard to pass up at this position in the draft.

But if Jacksonville goes with a wide receiver at No. 9 (one pick before Houston), look for the Texans to seize the opportunity and grab that defensive end that Jacksonville passed up.

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