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NFC South: NFL Draft Recap

Updated: Aug 2, 2019

Graphic by Robert Robinson

Atlanta Falcons

  • R1 #14: Chris Lindstrom, OL, Boston College

  • R1 #31: Kaleb McGary, OT, Washington

  • R4 #111: Kendall Sheffield, CB, Ohio State

  • R4 #135: John Kominsky, DE, Charleston

  • R5 #152: Qadree Ollison, RB, Pittsburgh

  • R5 #172: Jordan Miller, CB, Washington

  • R6 #203: Marcus Green, WR, Louisiana-Monroe

To most Atlanta fans, the early selections of two guys on the offensive line when the opportunity to land a major player on the defensive line generated the opinion “What are you doing, DQ and TD? We had dominant forces to pair with Grady and Co. and wreak havoc”. Well, what these fans probably don’t remember is that back in March, team owner Arthur Blank went on the record saying the fortification of the offensive line is a top priority of the team. Sure, offensive linemen aren’t the flashiest picks, but the early tape on Chris Lindstrom and Kaleb McGary demonstrate that the goal of keeping Matt Ryan upright is going to be highly achievable. The McGary selection prevented them from selecting any players on Day Two, but Day Three saw the team address the cornerback position, specifically the selection of OSU defensive back Kendall Sheffield, whose early indications show promise for a unit which recently lost Robert Alford and suffered massively due to injuries last year.

Arguably the best pick will come down to either Lindstrom or McGary at this point since they have the highest probability to make the Week One roster. Also, should they be the starters against the Vikings, it’ll be the first time in the common draft era the entire offensive linemen for one team consist of five first-round draft picks. Sheffield has potential with guys like Keanu Neal, Ricardo Allen, Damontae Kazee, and Desmond Trufant to mentor him, plus he held Saquon in check while in college, so that’s a plus. On paper, it appears the team addressed the positions of need, especially considering that in the Dan Quinn era, the Falcons haven’t really had a plethora of holes, just problems with depth in the event of injuries. It remains to be seen how each of these players will contribute toward the team’s overall goals, but for now, Atlanta has a roster which, at the very minimum, will contend for a playoff spot (key injuries notwithstanding).

Overall draft grade: B

Written By: Joe Carlino

Carolina Panthers

  • R1 #16: Brian Burns, EDGE, Florida State

  • R2 #37: Greg Little, OT, Ole Miss

  • R3 #100: Will Grier, QB, West Virginia

  • R4 #115: Christian Miller, EDGE, Alabama

  • R5 #154: Jordan Scarlett, RB, Florida

  • R6 #212: Dennis Daley, OT, South Carolina

  • R7 #237: Terry Godwin, WR, Georgia

Carolina had a very solid draft class this year, addressing both the offensive and defensive lines with two selections each. What is impressive and concerning at the same time is the selection of Will Grier in the third round. Don’t misunderstand me, I think his ceiling is great for a backup/fringe starter in this league, but one has to wonder if the team potentially selected him because they don’t think Cam will be playing much longer. That said, this quarterback duo will be one of the best in the league since both are proven talents at the collegiate level. With Christian McCaffrey basically becoming the next member of the Avengers, the Panthers will be a power run-dominant offense. If Cam’s shoulder doesn’t improve, having someone with Grier’s arm will make the deep ball a threat.

Easily the best pick for the Panthers came in the first round. Edge rusher Brian Burns was nasty at FSU, and because he can play in both a 3-4 and 4-3 scheme, the defense can consistently adapt and dominate opposing offensive lines. The worst pick for Carolina on paper is fifth-round selection Jordan Scarlett out of Florida. He’ll likely make the roster as a special teams player, but don’t expect any significant running with McCaffrey as the starter and Cameron Artis-Payne as the backup. As for the remainder of the team’s draft, Greg Little and Dennis Daley should come in and help defend the offense from the field of rushers Carolina will face in 2019, and Christian Miller will probably rotate into the D-line throughout the year. The only positional group Carolina probably needed to address was the secondary since they don’t have guys who can consistently contain elite threats like Julio, Mike Evans, and Michael Thomas, and that’s just the division.

Overall draft grade: B-

Written By: Joe Carlino

New Orleans Saints

  • R2, #48: Erik McCoy, C, Texas A&M

  • R4, #105: Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, DB, Florida

  • R6, #177: Saquan Hampton, S, Rutgers

  • R7, #231: Alize Mack, TE, Notre Dame

  • R7, #244: Kaden Ellis, OLB, Idaho

After trading away the team’s 2018 and 2019 1st round picks in order to move up to take Marcus Davenport in last year’s draft, the Saints didn’t make a selection until the 48th overall pick. Now, the jury is still out as to if the University of Texas at San Antonio defensive end was worth the draft capital spent to acquire him after only a 4.5-sack season. Here is what the Packers got in exchange for the 14th overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft.

Green Bay Packers New Orlean Saints

2018 #18: CB Jaire Alexander 2018 #14: DE Marcus Davenport

2018 #88: LB Oren Burks Vs.

2018 #248: LB Kendall Donnerson

2019 #21: FS Darnell Savage

Clearly Green Bay’s winning at this point, but it’s still too early to declare a victor just yet. That said, it has to factor into the team’s 2019 draft grade. While they may not have drafted a player in the 1st, the team arguably got two prospects who were highly regarded as late first to early second round players in center Erik McCoy and safety Chauncey Gardner-Johnson. McCoy was considered the #2 or #3 center on nearly every big board in the country, while CGJ was being projected in the 1st by a majority of mocks. McCoy is a technically sound day one starter with a long career ahead of him. Gardner-Johnson is a versatile defensive back with the prototypical length, speed, and playmaking ability that teams love at the next level. The safety is fast enough to play single high, strong enough to play around the line of scrimmage, and agile enough to cover slot WR’s and TE’s 1-on-1. The Saints hit home runs with their first two picks and landed another three depth/role players with potential starting ability in S Saquan Hampton, TE Alize Mack, and OLB Kaden Ellis. Ok, yes, hindsight may be 20/20 but if including what “could have been” in terms of the NO-GB trade; staying put and adding names like a Derwin James in 2018 and Montez Sweat this year in comparison to just Marcus Davenport certainly taints New Orleans’ draft grade.

Overall draft grade: C+

Written By: Jack Bourgeois

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • R1, #5: Devin White, LB, LSU

  • R2, #39: Sean Bunting, CB, Central Michigan

  • R3, #94: Jamel Dean, CB, Auburn

  • R3, #99: Mike Edwards, DB, Kentucky

  • R4, #107: Anthony Nelson, DE, Iowa

  • R5, #145: Matt Gay, K, Utah

  • R6, #208: Scott Miller, WR, Bowling Green

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers may not have had the flashy draft their fan base was hoping for, but it’s clear Bruce Arians and Jason Licht got their guys. It was no secret leading into the draft that the Buc’s front office was in love with LSU Linebacker Devin White. That said, no one also expected Josh Allen to still be on the board come pick #5. Licht stuck to his guns and took the athletic backer over several other pressing team needs with the belief he’ll have the biggest impact on the defense, regardless of the roster. Now, while pass rusher and secondary are the obvious holes in need of filling, the Buc’s GM may be right. With having to face the likes of RB’s Christian McCaffrey, Alvin Kamara, and recently signed TE Jared Cook twice a year, Tampa needs linebackers who can cover in space. White’s skill set and athletic ability make him tailor-made to play defensive in the NFC South.

After replacing and arguably upgrading from Kwon Alexander with another LSU LB, the Buccaneers continued to address the needs on the defensive side of the ball. In the second round, with several big-name corners still on the board, Tampa selected a relatively unknown small school CB by the name of Sean Bunting. The first-team All-MAC defensive back may not be a household name just yet but a handful of scouts were VERY high on the Central Michigan ballhawk. With 4.4 speed, length, and the ability to dominate the 50/50 ball (against lesser talent), he’s one of the drafts biggest boom or bust prospects. Third round pick and ultra-athletic Auburn corner Jamal Dean is one of the most underrated Day Two picks of them all. He’s fast, physical, and is not afraid to hit for a cornerback. After three major knee surgeries, the Bucs took a risk on Dean in the 3rd, but the payoff could be well worth it if he can stay healthy. Tampa continued to address the defensive side of the ball with their first five picks, including Kentucky DB Mike Edwards at pick #99 and Iowa DE Anthony Nelson at pick #107. Now, to this point, they certainly addressed the team’s glaring needs but apparently did not learn their lesson from two years prior. “With the 145th pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select Matt Gay, Kicker Utah”. Buc’s fans everywhere were puzzled and pissed off after memories of the 2nd round with the Roberto Aguayo debacle still running through their heads. For Christ sakes, you sign kickers, you don’t draft ‘em! Between reaching on risky, boom or bust prospects in the mid rounds and drafting a kicker in the 5th, only time will tell as to if the Bucs struck gold or a GM position will be opening up soon in Tampa.

Overall Draft Grade: B-

Written By: Jack Bourgeois



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