How the NFL Draft changed the NFC South landscape

NFCSouthDraft

The NFC South has been one of the NFL’s most competitive divisions since its inception in 2002. Given the level of volatility the division experiences on a yearly basis, the NFL Draft is a great way to get a leg up on the competition.

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We know how the Falcons’ 2019 draft turned out. Atlanta addressed the offensive line with its first two picks before adding a pair of cornerbacks, running backs and a defensive end on Day 3. But how did the draft unfold for the rest of the NFC South?

Let’s take a look.

Carolina Panthers

Draft picks:

  • Rd. 1 – Brian Burns, EDGE, Florida State
  • Rd. 2 – Greg Little, OT, Ole Miss
  • Rd. 3 – Will Grier, QB, West Virginia
  • Rd. 4 – Christian Miller, EDGE, Alabama
  • Rd. 5 – Jordan Scarlett, RB, Florida
  • Rd. 6 – Dennis Daley, OT, South Carolina
  • Rd. 7 – Terry Godwin, WR, Georgia

Summary: The Panthers addressed a number of needs in this year’s draft, most notably along the offensive and defensive lines. First-round pick Brian Burns is an athletic freak off the edge who possesses rare length and flexibility at the position. Greg Little should factor into the offensive tackle battle in camp, and Dennis Daley is an interesting developmental prospect who could become a starter down the line. The most interesting pick for the Panthers is quarterback Will Grier, who had a proven college track record and should be insurance in case Cam Newton’s injuries continue to linger.

New Orleans Saints

Draft picks:

  • Rd. 2 – Erik McCoy, C, Texas A&M
  • Rd. 4 – Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, S, Florida
  • Rd. 6 – Saquan Hampton, S, Rutgers
  • Rd. 7 – Alize Mack, TE, Notre Dame
  • Rd. 7 – Kaden Elliss, LB, Idaho

Summary: The Saints entered this year’s draft with limited picks after trading up for Marcus Davenport in 2018. Still, New Orleans managed to address its top needs despite the lack of draft capital. Center Erik McCoy was one of the top prospects at his position, and he could take over the starting job after Max Unger retired this offseason. Chauncey Gardner-Johnson is a versatile safety who is good value in the fourth round, and Saquan Hampton had a strong senior season but struggled with injuries in college. Nevertheless, the Saints addressed two big needs by drafting solid players with their first two picks.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Devin-White

Draft picks:

  • Rd. 1 – Devin White, LB, LSU
  • Rd. 2 – Sean Bunting, CB, Central Michigan
  • Rd. 3 – Jamel Dean, CB, Auburn
  • Rd. 3 – Mike Edwards, S, Kentucky
  • Rd. 4 – Anthony Nelson, DE, Iowa
  • Rd. 5 – Matt Gay, K, Utah
  • Rd. 6 – Scott Miller, WR, Bowling Green State
  • Rd. 7 – Terry Beckner Jr., DT, Missouri

Summary: The Buccaneers had the most draft picks of any NFC South team this year, and they responded by hammering the defensive side of the ball. Devin White is considered the best linebacker in this class and one of the top defenders in the draft; he could be a nuisance for years to come. Tampa Bay’s lack of cornerback talent will allow Sean Bunting and Jamel Dean to compete for starting jobs right away, but both players have some question marks. Terry Beckner Jr. was once one of the best high school prospects in the country, but he had an inconsistent college career. Still, he’s a high-upside seventh-round pick.

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