Tuesday, May 2, 2017

2017 NFL Draft Grades: NFC South

I am grading the NFL draft for 2017 by division, and I now move on to the NFC South. The NFC West grades are already out, and that division did not fair very well overall. Let's hope that things went better for the South in the NFC. Here are the grades:

Atlanta Falcons
1(26) DE Takkarist McKinley, UCLA (B)
3(75) LB Duke Riley, LSU (B)
4(136) OG Sean Harlow, Oregon State (F)
5(149) CB Damontae Kazee, San Diego State (A)
5(156) RB Brian Hill, Wyoming (A)
5(174) TE Eric Saubert, Drake (A)
Final Grade: 3.0 (B)
The Falcons did very well for the entirety of the draft, with only one miss, the drafting of Oregon State OG Sean Harlow. Harlow may very well be decent once he gets into camp, and he will get a chance to play, but he was nowhere on the radar of any draft services, and picking someone like that in the 4th round seems like one of those "too cool for school" moves. McKinley will bring major energy to the defensive front, Riley brings good value for where he was picked, and Kazee was one of my favorite players entering this draft. Hill and Saubert were inexpensive offensive options for development taken late. All in all, I liked this draft for the Falcons a good deal.

Carolina Panthers
1(8) RB Christian McCaffrey, Stanford (A)
2(40) WR Curtis Samuel, Ohio State (A)
2(64) OG Taylor Moten, Western Michigan (B)
3(77) DE Daeshon Hall, Texas A&M (B)
5(152) CB Corn Elder, Miami (B)
6(192) FB Alex Armah, West Georgia (C)
7(233) PK Harrison Butker, Georgia Tech (C)
Final Grade: 3.5 (B)
The Panthers did very well in this draft as well, and they did slightly better than the Falcons did. I gave them a break with the last two picks, as Armah may be the starting FB next season, and Butker missed just two FGs last season for Georgia Tech. He got better each of the last three seasons, and again, will be given a shot to win the PK job in camp. McCaffrey and Samuel will give the offense much needed weapons, and Moten should be able to bolster a line that was not great last fall. Hall is an underrated edge rusher, and Elder has good value for when he was picked. There were no whiffs here.

New Orleans Saints
1(11) CB Marshawn Lattimore, Ohio State (A)
1(32) OT Ryan Ramczyk, Wisconsin (A)
2(42) S Marcus Williams, Utah (A)
3(67) RB Alvin Kamara, Tennessee (C)
3(76) LB Alex Anzalone, Florida (D)
3(103) DE/OLB Trey Hendrickson, FAU (B)
6(196) DE Al-Quadin Muhammed, Miami (F)
Final Grade: 2.57 (C)
The Saints had some issues during draft weekend. It started off very nicely, but it was not a complete effort. Lattimore, Ramczyk, and Williams were home runs for the Saints, and all fit major needs. Ramczyk rates as my best offensive linemen coming out of college in this class, and Lattimore fits a major need that the Saints shopped for all off season. The only pick after those that I liked was the selection of Hendrickson, who has massive pass rush ability. Kamara and Anzalone got a lot of love from TV experts, but I don't care for either prospect, and Muhammed was a guy that could have been had as a UFDA.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
1(19) TE OJ Howard, Alabama (A)
2(50) S Justin Evans, Texas A&M (A)
3(84) WR Chris Godwin, Penn State (A)
3(107) LB Kendell Beckwith, LSU (A)
5(162) RB Jeremy McNichols, Boise State (A)
7(223) NT Stevie Tu'ikolovatu, USC (D)
Final Grade: 3.5 (B)
The Bucs were having a stellar draft until the final pick of Tu'ikolovatu. He could fit in as a rotational gap rusher for the D line, but he was not on any radar heading into the draft. Howard and Godwin, along with FA signing DeSean Jackson will all combine to be major boons to the abilities of Jameis Winston. Evans and Bekwith give solid value, and will get solid playing time in camp. McNichols had a much earlier grade, so he was a gift at pick 162. With Doug Martin out the first four games on suspension, fellow Boise State Bronco McNichols could get in some early time.

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