Ronnie McGill

AFC South Notes: Colts, Nabers, Texans, Jags

The Colts‘ wide receiver room includes two starters acquired before Shane Steichen‘s arrival — Michael Pittman Jr., Alec Pierce — and the team made a three-year, $70MM commitment to its No. 1 target in March. Steichen is starting to put his stamp on the WR room, however, with the Colts having drafted Josh Downs in last year’s third round and Adonai Mitchell in this year’s second. As Chris Ballard continues to run Indianapolis’ draft, ESPN.com’s Stephen Holder notes Steichen “strongly advocated” for Mitchell in the second round.

Mitchell is unlikely to stroll into a starting spot early, as Holder adds the Texas product will be expected to begin training camp as the top backup behind Pittman, Pierce and Downs. But the ex-Longhorns standout’s draft slot (No. 52) suggests he will be heard from early in his career. The Colts have seen mixed results from their second-round WRs under Ballard, with Pittman shining and Parris Campbell struggling to stay on the field. Pierce (No. 53 overall in 2022) has eclipsed 500 receiving yards in each of his first two seasons. A Georgia transfer, Mitchell blazed to a 4.34-second 40-yard dash at the Combine. Although he only topped 450 receiving yards in one college season (2023, with 845 and 11 touchdowns), plenty will be expected from a Colts team that has struggled with receiver depth for most of Ballard’s GM tenure.

Here is the latest from the AFC South:

  • Staying on the WR topic, the Titans had a contingency plan in the event one of the teams above them at No. 7 zagged. The Giants were seemingly down to QB or WR at No. 6 throughout the pre-draft process, but a post-draft report suggested they were also eyeing Joe Alt. The Chargers were both connected to Alt and JC Latham at No. 5. In a scenario in which targets Latham and Alt were off the board, ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler notes Malik Nabers would have been the Tennessee pick at 7. A Nabers choice would have left the OL-needy Titans less equipped up front, and Latham filled a bigger need. The team has since signed Tyler Boyd to team with outside targets DeAndre Hopkins and Calvin Ridley.
  • The Colts are changing some of their rookies’ positions ahead of their first NFL offseason programs. Ballard said fifth-round pick Jaylon Carlies will move from safety to linebacker, with the Indianapolis Star’s Joel Erickson indicating fifth-round safety Jaylin Simpson is sliding from safety to cornerback. Simpson has CB experience but moved to safety while at Auburn. Before Day 3 investments, the Colts did not address the cornerback position beyond Kenny Moore‘s re-signing. This leaves some uncertainty here — particularly on the outside.
  • Third-round Colts draftee Matt Goncalves spent his college career at left and right tackle, but ProFootballNetwork.com’s Adam Caplan notes the rookie will be given time at guard this offseason. The Day 2 pick will compete for a backup job as a rookie, per Holder, as it appears Indy is planning to keep its low-cost starters (Bernhard Raimann, Will Fries) in place alongside veterans Quenton Nelson, Ryan Kelly and Braden Smith.
  • The Texans will make an adjustment at a key front office post. The team did not renew director of pro personnel Ronnie McGill‘s contract, KPRC2’s Aaron Wilson notes. McGill followed GM Nick Caserio from New England in 2021; the Texans had promoted him to the director post in 2022. Teams regularly make scouting adjustments post-draft, and a notable Texans hire will be on tap.
  • A scouting veteran of more than 30 years, Tom McConnaughey is retiring from his Jaguars post. The veteran staffer, who has been with the Jags since 2021, will leave after three years as a national scout with the team, InsidetheLeague.com’s Neil Stratton tweets. McConnaughey spent 26 years with the Chargers prior to moving to Jacksonville.
  • In addition to hiring A.J. Highsmith and Keenan Agnew, the Titans are adding Sam Summerville to their scouting staff. Summerville is expected to join the team as a national scout, per Stratton. The Bears recently parted ways with Summerville, a former Fritz Pollard Alliance scout of the year honoree, after 12 years.

Front Office Notes: Panthers, Kuechly, Texans

Scott Fitterer is looking to add to his staff. NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reports (via Twitter) that the Panthers have requested permission to interview Bills director of player personnel Dan Morgan for their assistant GM job. The organization has also reached out to the Eagles about interviewing director of player personnel Ian Cunningham for the assistant GM gig, via Rapoport on Twitter.

Morgan, of course, was a first-round pick by the Panthers back in 2001. The linebacker spent the first seven seasons of his career with Carolina, including a 2004 campaign where he made his lone Pro Bowl appearance. Following his playing career, Morgan joined the Seahawks front office, and he’s been in his current role with Buffalo since 2018.

Cunningham’s front office career started in Baltimore, and he joined the Eagles organization as director of college scouting in 2017. The executive was promoted to his current gig in 2019. As Eagles reporter Geoff Mosher points out (on Twitter), Panthers director of player personnel Patrick Stewart previously served as Philly’s national scout, so the front office has a connection to the Eagles.

Let’s check out some more front office notes from around the NFL…

  • While the Panthers are looking to add to their front office, the team has also lost a valuable (and very popular scout). Rapoport reports (via Twitter) that Panthers legend Luke Kuechly resigned from his role as pro scout. The former Defensive Player of the Year took on the role after retiring as a player last offseason. Panthers reporter Joe Person tweets that Kuechly wants to spend more time with his family before deciding the next steps of his career.
  • The Texans and director of pro personnel Rob Kisiel have mutually decided to part ways, according to Albert Breet of TheMMQB (via Twitter). Kisiel had been with the organization since the beginning, first serving as a scout before eventually making his way up to director of pro personnel.
  • Speaking of the Texans, the front office hired former Patriots pro scout Ronnie McGill prior to the draft, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (via Twitter). Houston GM Nick Caserio has had a habit of stealing talent from New England, and it makes sense that he’d have his eyes on McGill. The former college running back had been with the Patriots organization since 2010.