Training camp is right around the bend, and before it begins, I’ll be finishing up my NFL off-season coverage and this draft report card series, continuing today with the NFC South. Check out the links below for previous articles in the series:
NFL Draft Report Cards 2020
Now let’s dive right in:
Carolina Panthers: A-
The Panthers were the only team to use every single draft pick on a defensive player, and after the losses of ILB Luke Kuechly, DT Gerald McCoy, and CB James Bradberry, the strategy paid off. Majority of Carolina’s needs were on the defensive side of the ball, and they did a good job filling those needs.
The team has a few minor issues on offense, but nothing in urgent need of improvement. They could use a better backup for RB Christian McCaffrey, or another TE with Greg Olsen leaving. But they can manage with Ian Thomas starting at TE, and Reggie Bonnafon and Jordan Scarlett could make for a serviceable committee in the case of a CMC absence.
I thought some of the late round picks for Carolina were slight reaches, but similar to the Vikings late round picks, they filled needs and that’s more important than value when it comes to late round picks. Overall, I really liked their draft class.
New Orleans Saints: B+
The Saints only had four draft picks, but they didn’t have many positional needs, so four was enough for a very strong draft class. The Saints received one of the steals of the draft in OLB Zack Baun, who fell due to off the field issues. Cesar Ruiz was also a good pick, as he’s a younger, higher upside replacement for Larry Warford. The Adam Trautman pick was questionable, but he was the best player on the board, and the Saints were able to take advantage due to minimal positional needs. They capped off their draft with Tommy Stevens, a potential future replacement for Taysom Hill. I felt the Saints did very well, filling the few positional needs they had and getting value in the process. But it’s hard to pull off an impressive draft with so few picks.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: B+
The Bucs had a pretty strong draft, but they could’ve done better. They started off by securing a young o-lineman to protect QB Tom Brady. I would’ve wanted to go RB next, but they instead opted to add to the secondary with S Antoine Winfield Jr. Winfield Jr. wasn’t a terrible pick, but it caused them to miss out on the top tier of RBs. Tampa could’ve had Ohio State’s stud RB J.K. Dobbins at that pick!
Instead, they ended up with Ke’Shawn Vaughn in Round 3 and added to it with Raymond Calais in Round 7. As a result, Tampa still looks weak at RB for 2020 and may need to add one more guy to their committee in order to prevent the position from holding them back.
I did like the Tyler Johnson pick, as Johnson is an upgrade over any other WR3 option on the roster. If Mike Evans or Chris Godwin goes down, Johnson could be the next man up. The team’s other late round picks weren’t great though, as they still could’ve used an o-lineman or another defensive back as opposed to front seven help. Don’t get me wrong, I liked this draft class. But it wasn’t perfect.
Atlanta Falcons: B-
The Falcons, like Carolina, had a lot of defensive needs. They did fill most of these needs. However, they reached on several players and the front seven assets they drafted weren’t exactly good fits. There wasn’t a single pick in this draft class that I really loved. But they did do a decent job need filling, so I have to give them some credit for that.
That’s all for this portion of my draft reviews. Stay tuned for the final post in this series, about the NFC West.