Senior NFL Columnist

AFC South

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The AFC South was once viewed as a 4-3 division, with all but the Houston Texans employing that style of defense.

But the Indianapolis Colts have moved to a 3-4 front under first-year coach Chuck Pagano, which makes the division split down the middle. But since the Texans have the best defense, and they are a 3-4 team, I went with a 3-4 look here as I picked the All-AFC South team.

That means some players on the front seven might be slotted in at spots you wouldn't expect. For example, I went with Jaguars linebacker Daryl Smith as a 3-4 outside linebacker, even though he plays in a 4-3 scheme.

Quarterback, for now, was an easy pick. Houston's Matt Schaub is the choice with two first-time starters in rookie Andrew Luck (Colts) and Jake Locker (Titans) and Jacksonville's Blaine Gabbert, who started as a rookie last season.

Whichever of those young quarterbacks has the best season should be the team that finishes second behind Houston.

Offense

TE LT LG C RG RT
J. Cook D. Brown S. Hutchinson C. Myers U. Nwaneri D. Stewart
WR QB WR
A. Johnson M. Schaub R. Wayne
RB FB
M. Jones-Drew G. Jones

QB -- Matt Schaub, Texans: He has to show the team he can stay on the field. If he does, he will get a huge new contract.
RB -- Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars: This is based on the assumption he shows up -- which he will. He led the NFL in rushing.
FB -- Greg Jones, Jaguars: He is one of the league's best blocking fullbacks and downright tough guys.
WR -- Andre Johnson, Texans: He missed much of last season, but when he's on the field he is one of the toughest matchups for any defense.
WR -- Reggie Wayne, Colts: Age is a factor, but he can still get the job done -- even if it isn't as good as it used to be.
TE -- Jared Cook, Titans: I gave him the nod over Jacksonville's Marcedes Lewis because I think he is a better receiver.
LT -- Duane Brown, Texans: The Texans rewarded him with a huge deal two weeks ago because he played at a high level. Beats out Michael Roos and Eugene Monroe, two other top tackles in the division.
LG -- Steve Hutchinson, Titans: He is nearing the end of his career, but he is still the best at this spot in the division after signing as a free agent this spring.
C -- Chris Myers, Texans: This athletic center is perfect for the Texans' zone-blocking system.
RG -- Uche Nwaneri, Jaguars: He will dominate players in the run game, and he's made strides in protection.
RT -- David Stewart, Titans: He is a mauler in the run game who has improved in pass protection.

Defense

LE NT/DT RE
J. Watt T. Knighton A. Smith
OLB ILB/MLB ILB/MLB OLB
D. Freeney B. Cushing P. Posluszny D. Smith
CB FS SS CB
J. Joseph A. Bethea D. Landry J. McCourty

LE -- J.J. Watt, Texans: He was dominant as a rookie, but he did miss preseason with an elbow injury.
NT/DT -- Terrance Knighton, Jaguars: He plays 4-3 defensive tackle, but could be a nose if asked. He is in a contract year.
RE -- Antonio Smith, Texans: He has settled in nicely as a 3-4 end, which he played when he was with the Cardinals.
OLB -- Dwight Freeney, Colts: He will make a transition to 3-4 rush guy, but he should still be a force off the edge. His 2011 season was down some, but he will rebound.
LB -- Brian Cushing, Texans: He is a nasty force in the middle of that Houston defense.
ILB/MLB -- Paul Posluszny, Jaguars: He came to Jacksonville as a free agent last season with some questions about coverage. But that never showed up and he was good against the run.
OLB -- Daryl Smith, Jaguars: He is a true 4-3 linebacker who can run and chase. Underrated is his middle name.
CB -- Johnathan Joseph, Texans: He came over as a big-dollar free agent and lived up to the expectations.
CB -- Jason McCourty, Titans: He outplayed his brother, Devin, last season to the surprise of many.
Nickel -- Aaron Ross, Jaguars: If Rashean Mathis and Derek Cox start, Ross will be a nice third corner. There's a chance Ross could start, which would make Mathis the nickel.
SS -- Dawan Landry, Jaguars: He was impressive in his first year with the team in 2011. He can play the run and pass.
FS -- Antoine Bethea, Colts: This rangy veteran is one of the holdovers from the Tony Dungy era. He holds the back end of the Colts defense together.

Special Teams

KR K P
T. Holliday J. Scobee B. Anger

K -- Josh Scobee, Jaguars: He missed two field goals last season for a .920 percentage, the highest in the league.
P -- Bryan Anger, Jaguars: The Jaguars used a third-round pick on him and he has boomed it in the preseason.
KR -- Trindon Holliday, Texans: This little return man has lit up the preseason. Can it carry over?

Honorable mention: CB Vontae Davis, Colts; DE Jeremy Mincey, Jaguars; T Michael Roos, Titans; OLB Robert Mathis, Colts; OLB Connor Barwin, Texans; ILB Colin McCarthy, Titans; TE Marcedes Lewis, Jaguars; S Glover Quin, Texans; CB Derek Cox, Jaguars.


Pete Prisco has covered the NFL for three decades, including working as a beat reporter in Jacksonville for the Jaguars. He hosted his own radio show for seven years, and is the self-anointed star of CBS Sports' show, Eye on Football. When he's not watching game tape, you can find Pete on Twitter or dreaming of an Arizona State national title in football.
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