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AFC South rookie grades: Titans rising under GM Jon Robinson

The 2016 NFL season just ended -- but the 2017 NFL season is coming. As the NFL Scouting Combine nears, looks forward by looking backward, grading the 2016 rookie class for each team and identifying what the front office should focus on this offseason. Click below to scroll through each divisional rundown.

Houston Texans

» Round 1: (No. 21 overall) Will Fuller, WR, 16 games/15 starts.
» Round 2: (50) Nick Martin, OG, 0 games.
» Round 3: (85) Braxton Miller, WR, 10 games/6 starts.
» Round 4: (119) Tyler Ervin, RB, 14 games/0 starts.
» Round 5: (159) K.J. Dillon, S, 5 games/0 starts; (166) D.J. Reader, NT, 18 games/9 starts.
» Notable undrafted FAs:Stephen Anderson, TE, 15 games/0 starts, Joel Heath, DE, 14 games/6 starts.

On paper and before a down of football was played, the Texans had my favorite draft of any team. Combining home-run threat Will Fuller with versatile Braxton Miller and stalwart interior lineman Nick Martin seemed like the recipe for a foundational draft that could lift Houston to another division title. They made it there anyway, but without a season's worth of productive play from any of their core selections. I wrote about Fuller's boom-or-bust proposition earlier this year and, for a few weeks, he was certainly booming. Fuller caught just half of his 92 targets, while Miller was only healthy for 10 games this year. Houston did find some value in the later rounds. While D.J. Reader's scouting report spoke for itself (at 321 pounds, he threw a 94 mph fastball), he played formidably up front and was only about 100 snaps behind Vince Wilfork. Had Martin not missed the season with ankle surgery, this grade would have been significantly higher. GRADE: C+

Combine/free agency focus: Houston had two solid chances to draft a franchise quarterback back in 2014, but opted instead to take defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and guard Xavier Su'a-Filo. There cannot be any confidence in a long-term commitment to Brock Osweiler, which makes this February and March fascinating for Bill O'Brien. The scattershot opinions on this year's QB draft class remind me a bit of 2014, which means there could be a good enough option to slip in their direction. In free agency, the Texans could stand to further diversify their backfield and tinker with the safety position. Should they lose CB A.J. Bouye in free agency, all bets are off and they'll need to go hunting.

Indianapolis Colts

» Round 1: (No. 18 overall) Ryan Kelly, C, 16 games/16 starts.
» Round 2: (57) T.J. Green, S, 15 games/4 starts.
» Round 3: (82) Le'Raven Clark, OT, 8 games/3 starts.
» Round 4: (116) Hassan Ridgeway, DL, 16 games/5 starts; (125) Antonio Morrison, ILB 16 games/4 starts.
» Round 5: (155) Joe Haeg, OT, 15 games/14 starts.
» Round 7: (239) Trevor Bates, LB, 0 games; (248) Austin Blythe, C/OG, 8 games/1 start.
» Notable undrafted FAs:Matthias Farley, DB, 16 games/0 starts; Josh Ferguson, RB, 16 games/0 starts; Chester Rogers, WR, 14 games/2 starts.

This was general manager Ryan Grigson's final draft and he started out with a bang. Center Ryan Kelly should be a 10-year starter for this organization; Andrew Luck's version of Jeff Saturday. From there, the 2016 draft depended on your ability to be optimistic. Fifth-round pick Joe Haeg had to play a lot of football in Year 1 and did so at a solid level. The former North Dakota State standout was on the field for almost 1,000 snaps (behind only Anthony Castonzo and Kelly among O-linemen). Third-round pick Le'Raven Clark did not come on until the end of the season and seems more like a long-term project for this coaching staff -- something Luck obviously doesn't need happening live in front of him right now. The Colts always seemed like a team where the ideas of the general manager did not mesh with the philosophy of the coaching staff, which makes a draft like this incredibly hard to grade. Still, there are teams that whiffed altogether on the first-round pick, and Indianapolis did not do so. Grade: C

Combine/free agency focus: This team needs a better front seven. The Colts need to upgrade at defensive tackle, defensive end and linebacker in the worst way. The release of D'Qwell Jackson leaves the cupboard bare, but maybe this is the chance for head coach Chuck Pagano to get his type of linebacker in the rotation. The 2016 Colts gave up a robust 4.7 rushing yards per attempt, ranking 30th. In his initial mock draft, Daniel Jeremiah had Indianapolis taking defensive end Derek Barnett out of Tennessee. The free agency class is peppered with some solid linebackers coming off their rookie deals and, obviously, some marquee players like Dont'a Hightower are available and worth spending money on.

Jacksonville Jaguars

» Round 1: (No. 5 overall) Jalen Ramsey, CB, 16 games/16 starts.
» Round 2: (36) Myles Jack, OLB, 16 games/10 starts.
» Round 3: (69) Yannick Ngakoue, DE, 16 games/15 starts.
» Round 4: (103) Sheldon Day, DT, 16 games/15 starts.
» Round 6: (181) Tyrone Holmes, OLB, 0 games; (201) Brandon Allen, QB, 0 games.
» Round 7: (226) Jonathan Woodard, DE, 0 games.
» Notable undrafted FAs:Alex Ellis, TE, 6 games/3 starts; Jarrod Wilson, DB, 16 games/0 starts.

Jacksonville initially had the most celebrated draft of any team, thanks to Cowboys owner Jerry Jones opting to grab Ezekiel Elliott at No. 4. This set off a chain reaction which allowed Jacksonville to nab Jalen Ramsey in the first round and top-10 talent/health concern Myles Jack in the second. Ramsey should have gotten stronger consideration for Defensive Rookie of the Year and was by far the team's most exciting defensive player in 2016. From there, it seemed, some of the Jags' rookies ended up getting lost in the schematic fold. Jack appeared in all 16 games, but logged fewer than 300 snaps. Fourth-round pick Sheldon Day, who I thought personally was their best pick of the draft, got on the field for just 203 snaps -- but did come on toward the end of the year. Third-round pick Yannick Ngakoue was described as a situational edge rusher coming out of college, but ended up being on the field for more snaps than 2015 first-round pick Dante Fowler. Ngakoue led the team with eight sacks, forced four fumbles and even picked off a pass. If nothing else, Ngakoue elevated the draft grade and was the mid-to-late-round steal general manager Dave Caldwell was looking for. The team still needs building blocks, but at this point, Jacksonville might have found two or three in 2016. Grade: B

Combine/free agency focus: The Jaguars are expected to have another treasure trove of cap space and are operating with a newfound sheen of professionalism following the addition of Tom Coughlin as their executive vice president. This could mean an influx of "Coughlin-type" players, which would jibe with new head coach Doug Marrone, who is cut from the same cloth as his new EVP. Jason Pierre-Paul is available and still young. ESPN Jaguars beat writer Mike DiRocco mentioned Eric Berry, who could break away from the Chiefs if they try and wrangle him on the franchise tag again. This roster is not nearly as far off as perceived. Jacksonville would do well to scour the offensive line market this offseason and build around fantastic young center Brandon Linder.

Tennessee Titans

» Round 1: (No. 8 overall) Jack Conklin, OT, 16 games/16 starts.
» Round 2: (33) Kevin Dodd, OLB, 9 games/1 start; (43) Austin Johnson, NT, 10 games/0 starts; (45) Derrick Henry, RB, 15 games/2 starts.
» Round 3: (64) Kevin Byard, S, 16 games/7 starts.
» Round 5: (140) Tajae Sharpe, WR, 16 games/10 starts; (157) LeShaun Sims, CB, 13 games/2 starts.
» Round 6: (193) Sebastian Tretola, OG, 1 game/0 starts.
» Round 7: (222) Aaron Wallace, OLB, 10 games/0 starts; (253) Kalan Reed, CB, 4 games/0 starts.

General manager Jon Robinson has been on fire so far, landing an excellent rookie class this past year. While two of his second-round picks -- nose tackle Austin Johnson and linebacker Kevin Dodd -- were either bitten by the injury bug or lost in the rotation, the additions of first-team All-Pro tackle Jack Conklin and Heisman trophy winner Derrick Henry were immediate upgrades to a run-first offense. The value got better from there, with third-round pick Kevin Byard turning out to be the Titans' best safety and fifth-round pick Tajae Sharpe catching 41 balls for 522 yards. Robinson is smart in that he's giving himself plenty of chances to make mistakes while still finding some hits. Tennessee's roster was enviable for a new GM at the time of Robinson's arrival in January of 2016 and now it's close to tantalizing. Grade: B+

Combine/free agency focus: I think the Titans could stand to upgrade at linebacker and cornerback, assuming Byard takes the next step at safety. Luckily for them, as our band of scouting experts has noted over the last few weeks, the draft is especially thick at cornerback and could reward teams well into the second round. In free agency, I would like to see the Titans continue to add some veteran pieces to buoy what is, at its core, a very young and exciting team. This team could very well win the AFC South next year if relatively healthy.

Follow Conor Orr on Twitter @ConorOrr.

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