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THE NFC Draft Grades: Carolina Adds Defense Up Front, Atlanta Gets The Perfect Draft

by Photo of Quentin Haynes

Draft Grades For The Panthers, Saints, Buccaneers, and Falcons

THE NFC Draft Grades: Carolina Adds Defense Up Front, Atlanta Gets The Perfect Draft

This was the most interesting division coming into the draft. Atlanta won the division last season, but New Orleans is coming off an up and down season without their coach, Tampa Bay fell off after a strong start and Carolina didn’t see themselves succeed with Cam in year two. This draft could've flipped the ranking of this division, but Atlanta will, most likely, keep their number one position with their strong draft as well. Three teams picked in the top 15, and Atlanta was looking to move up. In the end, I think the lack of draft picks hurt some of these teams, while the others had strong drafts for their development.

Previous NFL Draft Grades

AFC South

AFC East

NFC East

Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Grade: C

2. Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi St.

3. Mike Glennon, QB, North Carolina St.

4. Akeem Spence, DT, Illinois

4. William Gholston, DE, Michigan St.

5. Steven Means, DE, Buffalo

6. Mike James, RB, Miami

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had selected their player when they dealt their first round pick to New York for Darrelle Revis. Other than that, the Buccaneers went defensive. Johnthan Banks should be able to replace Eric Wright opposite of Revis as a rookie. Mike Glennon was an interesting pick for many reasons. Glennon could find a way to start if Freeman moves on next season. The selections of Spence and Gholston are for the departure of Michael Bennett’s production. This draft wasn’t special, but it wasn’t bad either. I was shocked they didn’t snag a development offensive lineman in the later rounds, and after months of rumors, zero tight ends slected.

Carolina Panthers- Grade: C

1. Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah #8

2. Kawann Short, DT, Purdue #45

4. Edmund Kugbila, OG, Valdosta St.

5. A.J. Klein, ILB, Iowa St.

6. Kenjon Barner, RB, Oregon

When you struggle at one position, you make sure to address it the following offseason. The Panthers did exactly that. Before a health scare, Star Lotulelei was a top ten prospect. Getting him at 14 was great value. Doubling up for Kawann Short in round two was also great. While he has motor questions, putting him next to a player with the work ethic of Lotulelei could make him better. The lack of draft picks hurt this class, and the fact that they didn’t take a single defensive back was odd to me, but the selections of Barner and Klein are moves built for flexibility for next season.

New Orleans Saints- Grade: A

1. Kenny Vaccaro, SS, Texas #16

3. Terron Armstead, OT, Arkansas-Pine Bluff #58

3. Jonathan Jenkins, DT, Georgia #51

5. Kenny Stills, WR, Oklahoma

6. Rufus Johnson, DE, Tarleton St.

I called them draft losers at first, but the New Orleans Saints had the best draft this year. I don’t even think it was close. The defense was a huge issue this past season, and Kenny Vaccaro in round one should help shore up a horrible secondary last season. Next, the Saints snagged Terron Armstead in round three to replace Jermon Bushrod. With freakish athleticism, Armstead could see time at any position on the offensive line. Jonathan Jenkins in round three as well? Jenkins could be just a perfect plug into the middle of their defense. Kenny Stills in round five could be another developmental receiver with Nick Toon. Rufus Johnson could be depth. Great move for the Saints overall in acquiring multiple starting talents with just five draft picks.

Atlanta Falcons- Grade: B

1. Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington #22

2. Robert Alford, CB, Southeastern Louisiana #73

4. Malliciah Goodman, DE, Clemson

4. Levine Toilolo, TE, Stanford

5. Stansly Maponga, DE, TCU

7. Kemal Ishmael, DB, Central Florida

7. Zeke Motta, SS, Notre Dame

7. Sean Renfree, QB, Duke

I gave this draft a B grade, but in some odd way, this is the perfect draft. After getting rid of Dunta Robinson, Atlanta spent two consecutive picks on Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford. You now take Robinson’s money and split it into both players. You lose John Abraham, barely replace him with Osi Umenyiora, and add two developmental backups in Mallicah Goodman (A fast backup who underachieved in college) and Stansly Maponga (Big body DE who seems stout in run support). Tony Gonzalez comes back for one year, and you acquire Levine Toilolo, a developmental TE with size. Seventh round? Developmental defensive backs for future season, and a quarterback who could be groomed to become your number two QB.

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