NFC South Draft Grades:
6. Julio Jones, wide receiver, Alabama: The Falcons paid a price to get the WR they desired, but I don’t know if its worth it. Jones is a big play receiver, but he at best will catch 5-8 balls a game and I think they paid too much.
91. Akeem Dent, linebacker, Georgia: Dent is an impressive middle linebacker and this is roughly the area of the draft he’d be taken.
145. Jacquizz Rodgers, running back, Oregon State: This is a great spot for Rodgers and he fills a big play need for the Falcons. While they had to move up for him I think it was well worth it.
192. Matt Bosher, kicker, Miami: Bosher is an interesting pick, as their punter Koenen and their kicker Bryant are both free agents and are coming off bad seasons. Bosher is both a kicker and a punter so he could fill either role…or potentially both. Which would save the Falcons money and improve their special teams.
210. Andrew Jackson, guard, Fresno State: Both of the Falcons starting guards are free agents which means this position could get thin very quick. Even if they resign both starting guards, Jackson is a great depth pick here.
230. Cliff Matthews, defensive end, South Carolina: The Falcons needed some help at defensive end and found a great value pick in Matthews. I thought he’d go maybe two rounds earlier, so Atlanta has to feel great about getting him here.
I know most people love the Falcons deal for Julio Jones, but I think it was a huge mistake. They could have grabbed a receiver like Jon Baldwin in the first round or Greg Little in the 2nd round and got roughly the same value. They also would have then had two other picks this year and their 1st and 4th next year. The Falcons ignored their needs at DE, S, and SLB by making this deal, and I really think they will regret it.
1. Cam Newton, quarterback, Auburn: I’m not a fan of this pick at all. Newton simply isn’t refined enough to be an NFL quarterback and I don’t see them giving him the time to develop properly.
65. Terrell McClain, defensive tackle, South Florida: This was slightly high for McClain, but it fills their biggest need and I can see him justifying the selection.
97. Sione Fua, defensive tackle, Stanford: Fua gives Carolina another starting caliber DT and fills another need. He is a big time run stopper and should play significantly as a rookie.
98. Brandon Hogan, cornerback, West Virginia: I like Hogan and think this is a good spot for him. He did have some medical and off the field concerns that caused him to fall, but he is a big time playmaker.
132. Kealoha Pilares, wide receiver, Hawaii: Pilares is a nice developmental receiver with some upside, but this was probably a bit early for him.
166. Lawrence Wilson, linebacker, UConn: Wilson was expected to be a mid rounder so this is a great value for him.
203. Zachary Williams, guard/center, Washington State: The Panthers offensive line was a weakness last season and Williams is a solid value here.
244. Lee Ziemba, tackle, Auburn: Ziemba might need to kick inside, but either way he’s a great depth prospect at this point.
I think the Panthers made a huge mistake with this draft by taking Newton number 1. There were some serious impact players in this draft and Newton simply wasn’t one of them. The potential is there, but I just don’t see them developing him properly. While I like most of the rest of their draft, missing that top pick could set this team back 5+ years.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS:
24. Cameron Jordan, defensive end, California: Jordan is a great value at the 24 pick overall and fills a big need along their defensive line. He will play both inside and outside and should really strengthen their d-line.
28. Mark Ingram, running back, Alabama: Ingram is a very good back, but I hated this trade for them. Giving up both a 2nd this year and a 1st next year is too much for Ingram. They could have targeted Leshoure in the 2nd round or another back later that wouldn’t have cost nearly as much.
72. Martez Wilson, linebacker, Illinois: This is a great pick for the Saints as Wilson fills a big need at OLB for them. I thought Wilson was a borderline top 50 player so this is a great value.
88. Johnny Patrick, cornerback, Louisville: Patrick is a nice value here and adds depth at a key position.
226. Greg Romeus, defensive end, Pittsburgh: I love this pick for the Saints. Romeus might be coming off a major injury, but prior to that he was a top 50 prospect. If Romeus can return to form it’s an absolute steal for them.
243. Nate Bussey, linebacker, Illinois: This is a depth pick for the Saints and while I didn’t really see Bussey as a draftable player, it is worth it.
I was tempted to give this class a C+ grade and it could be that if Romeus can become a star. Other than that though I think they gave up far too much for Ingram. While running back was a need, I just hate what they ended up giving up for him. I also thought they should have addressed their offensive line needs as well.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS:
20. Adrian Clayborn, defensive end, Iowa: I’m a big fan of this Clayborn pick and feel that he fills their biggest need.
51. Da’Quan Bowers, defensive end, Clemson: Bowers was a top 3 talent who fell to the 2nd round due to injury concerns. While those concerns are serious, this is well worth the risk for the Bucs. If he is healthy this is a major steal that also fills Tampa’s biggest need.
84. Mason Foster, linebacker, Washington: The Bucs had a lot of questions on defense, so adding another potential starter is a great value here.
104. Luke Stocker, tight end, Tennessee: Stocker is a great value here in the 4th round, and gives the Bucs a good 2nd TE to go with Winslow.
151. Ahmad Black, safety, Florida: I really like this pick as I feel Black has starting potential down the road.
187. Allen Bradford, running back, USC: I’m not a huge fan of Bradford, but this is a good spot for him, and gives Tampa a backup to Blount.
222. Anthony Gaitor, cornerback, Florida International: Gaitor is a nice value here and fills a big need for them. I like his upside and see him developing down the line.
238. Daniel Hardy, tight end, Idaho: Hardy is a good depth TE and could be a nice number 3 TE and special teamer for Tampa.
I love this draft for the Bucs, they added two potential stars at DE that could turn this defensive line unit into something special. Foster, Black and Gaitor should all contribute on this defense, and I can see Foster as a starter by the end of next season. Drafting two tight ends might raise from eyebrows, but I think both can make it, with Stocker having a big impact.