Mandatory Minicamp has just concluded, and school is over for me. So today, I’ll be resuming my NFL Draft Report Card series with the NFC South. Teams in the NFC South either thrived in this draft or struggled mightily. Which teams do I think benefitted the most? Keep reading to see my Draft Report Card for each team, including a grade for each pick as well as my final grades. As I post more articles, I will also include links to the rest of my draft grades.
NFL Draft Report Cards 2019
Overall Grade: B+
Draft Report Card:
Overall, this was a pretty solid draft for Carolina. They found a high upside WR in Round 7 to replace Devin Funchess. They filled their needs at tackle and edge early. They even took a QB in case Cam Newton fails to stay healthy. Will Grier is a big upgrade for Carolina at backup QB as opposed to Taylor Heinicke or Kyle Allen.
The Panthers did have a lot of needs going in, and with just 7 picks, it was hard to fill them all. But they could’ve traded down at some point, and they could’ve taken a corner to play across from Donte Jackson as opposed to RB Jordan Scarlett. Christian McCaffrey is a long term solution for Carolina at RB1, and they are set if he gets hurt thanks to Cameron Artis-Payne. It’s somewhat smart to add depth there in case multiple injuries occur, but they needed a corner more, and McCaffrey has not been terribly injury prone. Despite a couple mistakes in the later rounds, this was a pretty good draft, and it would’ve been hard for Carolina to do much better.
New Orleans Saints
Overall Grade: B
Draft Report Card:
It was hard for the Saints to succeed with only 5 picks, 4 of which were on Day 3. But unlike Philadelphia, who was also limited to 5 picks, the Saints found a way to fill a few needs early on and make the most of their draft situation. They drafted Erik McCoy in Round 2 to fill their biggest need as he replaces the retired Max Unger at center. They also snagged a top safety, Chauncey Gardner-Johnson with their 2nd pick. They could have looked for a receiver later on, and some of their later picks were reaches, but the Saints got off to a strong start and should be able to look back and admire this draft class in a few years.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Overall Grade: C+
The Buccaneers had some really strong picks, and some questionable ones. The team will have flexibility on defense after drafting LB Devin White in Round 1 and edge rusher Anthony Nelson in the 4th. But beyond that, the Bucs struggled in this draft. They didn’t really fill many of their needs. I would think they would draft a running back after the Year 1 struggles of Ronald Jones II, but maybe they need to give RoJo more of a chance before giving up on him, something other teams neglected to do for their rookie and second year busts.
The team also could’ve used more depth at WR beyond Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, but they chose not to draft anyone until Round 6, when they reached for Scott Miller of Bowling Green. They did sign Breshad Perriman, but I don’t know if that will be enough. Expect to see a lot of 2 TE schemes with O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate on the roster. The team also reached for a kicker once again. This team didn’t have that many huge needs, so I would’ve thought they would fill more of those as opposed to drafting three unnecessary defensive backs and reaching for some other players.
Overall Grade: C
Draft Report Card:
The Falcons really needed some depth at linebacker with Vic Beasley playing defensive end, but they didn’t end up drafting one. Who will be lining up on either side of Deion Jones come Week 1? I can’t name anyone definitively right now. They did get o-line help, but both o-linemen they drafted in Round 1 may have been found available in Round 2, or at least someone almost as good as them. The team did draft some secondary depth and a couple RBs to backup for Devonta Freeman, but those picks were also reaches. All of their picks were either a reach or an unnecessary pick. I would’ve expected a couple spot on selections.
That’s all for this portion of my NFL Draft Report Cards. In my next post, I’ll be reviewing the NFC West’s draft classes. Which NFC West teams stood out the most in this year’s draft? Stay tuned for my next post to find out.