AFC South Q&A: Who is the best newcomer to the division?

Today's question: Who is the best newcomer to this division?

Tania Ganguli, Houston Texans: This answer might have been Dante Fowler, the third overall pick in this year’s draft, but bad luck struck the Jaguars as Fowler suffered a torn ACL less than an hour into the Jaguars' two-day rookie minicamp. I’m going to go with Vince Wilfork as the best newcomer to the division. The Texans are delighted to have him and he’ll make their defensive line that much stronger, especially against the run. He’ll demand attention, allowing more freedom for Texans defensive end J.J. Watt, and he’ll be a very good influence on some of the younger players on the Texans' roster. Wilfork will make more of an immediate impact than any of the players drafted by AFC South teams this season.

Mike Wells, Indianapolis Colts: Defensive tackle Vince Wilfork. If the Texans expect to close the gap on the Colts in the division, it’ll have to be with their defense, because they still have questions at quarterback. All Wilfork knows how to do is win after spending the first 11 years of his career with the New England Patriots. So much attention will be paid to defensive ends J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney that Wilfork likely will find himself matched up in one-on-one coverage in the middle of the line. The odds will often favor Wilfork when the offense doesn’t double-team him. I thought the Colts should have pursued Wilfork to help fix their defensive line, which consistently has a difficult time stopping running backs and bringing pressure up the middle. But you can’t fault Wilfork for wanting to team up with Watt and Clowney on Houston’s defensive line. Those two will make his job easier.

Mike DiRocco, Jacksonville Jaguars: Jaguars tight end Julius Thomas certainly benefited by playing with Peyton Manning in Denver, but his success the past two seasons (108 catches for 1,277 yards and 24 TDs) wasn’t only because of Manning. Maybe it’s because I’ve seen him up close throughout OTAs and minicamp and watched him go up and pluck passes out of the air over and over, but it would be surprising if Thomas didn’t end up with 50-plus catches and at least eight touchdowns in 2015. Blake Bortles isn’t Manning, but he’s not stupid, either. Thomas is quickly going to become his top target, and defenses are going to have a hard time handling him.

Paul Kuharsky, Tennessee Titans: Sadly, no one jumps out. I bet Julius Thomas proves that he was at least partly a product of Peyton Manning. A lot of the other top additions are older (Trent Cole and Andre Johnson in Indianapolis, Vince Wilfork in Houston) or have big injury histories (Brian Orakpo in Tennessee). Wilfork’s my choice. He was a giant difference-maker for the Patriots for 11 years. He can still play and he helps make the Texans' defensive front a giant handful. With J.J. Watt demanding constant attention and Jadeveon Clowney also a threat, Wilfork’s going to have a chance to make a lot of plays. He’s such a smart player, he’ll be able to take advantage.