With teams focusing on offense in the first round, the AFC South took a sharp turn towards defense on the draft's second day. Only three of the division's nine picks were used on the offensive side of the ball, as each team plays chess, looking for ways to stop high-powered offenses in Houston and Indianapolis.
Despite pre-round buzz surrounding a quarterback, the Jaguars shrugged off rumors to take one of the top defenders on the board. Electing to pass on Geno Smith and Matt Barkley, Jacksonville added hard-hitting safety Jonathan Cyprien to their roster, a player some believed would be taken ten picks earlier by a playoff team. Their new front office is unafraid of popular opinion, and appears to be rolling the dice on third-year quarterback Blaine Gabbert.
No. 57 D.J. Swearinger
No. 89 Brennan Williams
No. 95 Sam Montgomery
Swearinger was viewed as one of the top safeties available in the second round. With a frame more suited to the free safety spot, the Texans have added a lurking player to their secondary who will keep Andrew Luck and other deep-throwing quarterbacks honest. Ed Reed is their short-term option, but with a year of tutelage Swearinger could be special.
After taking the South Carolina safety they swung north to take offensive tackle Brennan Williams from North Carolina. Coming from an NFL pedigree, he could develop into a third-round steal and potentially start at right tackle after the team parted ways with Eric Winston. There was some injury concern surrounding Williams, but he had early-round upside when healthy.
Electing to continue rolling the dice, the Texans selected Sam Montgomery in the third round. A pre-draft punchline, he infamously indicated that he didn't really try against sub-par competition while at LSU. If Houston can pull him into their locker room and get him motivated, Montgomery has first-round talent. This is often easier said than done, but with hard-working players like J.J. Watt, this should be a little easier.
Prisco: B+/ B/ B-
No. 86 Hugh Thornton
Lacking a second-round pick, the Colts had one chance to improve their roster on Friday. By all accounts they over-reached for the strong offensive guard from Illinois. Thornton lacks the height (6'3) teams like to see from offensive linemen, but has great size at 320 pounds and won't get pushed around easily. He can play right guard and allow Indianapolis to run power schemes more often.
No. 33 Jonathan Cyprien
No. 64 Dwayne Gratz
Cyprien is arguably the best strong safety in the draft. While he played primarily against small school competition, he showed he could rise to his competitors and made a name for himself at the Senior Bowl. A hard-hitting safety, Cyprien should be able to play around the line of scrimmage in the dirty part of the field and be a ball hawk in the secondary. The Jaguars needed playmakers and they got one.
The focus on physicality continued with their third-round pick, taking Connecticut cornerback Dwayne Gratz. There are times he gets overly enamored with being physical, allowing receivers to beat him, but his style should be right at home in Jacksonville as they install defensive sensibilities borrowed from the Seattle Seahawks.
Prisco: A/ B
No. 34 Justin Hunter
No. 70 Blidi Wreh-Wilson
No. 97 Zaviar Gooden
The Titans gambled on immense upside as they traded up in the second round to select wide receiver Justin Hunter. One of the biggest receivers in the draft, he'll need to improve his pass-catching skills and awareness to make an impact in the NFL. If they can get his skill on track this will be a fantastic pick.
After teammate Gratz went to the Jaguars, the Titans took fellow UConn cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson in the third round. He's a physical corner who doesn't shy away from contact, and this will help them immensely against tight ends around the division.
Rounding out their second day, Zaviar Gooden found himself Tennessee-bound. The Missouri outside linebacker is very similar to last year's second round pick Zach Brown but adds an extra dimension to their defense.
Prisco: B/ B/ B-