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NFC South Draft Review 2020

Written by:
C Costigan
Published on:
May/10/2020

With the NFL draft done, all 32 teams now have their draft picks set heading into the summer and fall. Over the next few days, we’ll be taking a look at each team, division by division, in order to see who came out of the draft with players that fit both need and value.
 
Today, we’re looking at the four teams that make up the NFC South.

Atlanta Falcons

Heading into the draft, the Falcons were aiming for an impact defensive player in the first round. They’re hoping Clemson CB A.J. Terrell fits the bill, as they took him 16th overall, a little ahead over where he was projected to go by draft analysts. Terrell figures to be in the mix to start from day one.
 
On day two, Atlanta had a strong showing. In the second round, they selected the Auburn DT Marlon Davidson in an effort to better stop the run. Then about halfway through the third round, they addressed their interior offensive line with Temple C Matt Hennessy, who will likely replace the incumbent Alex Mack beginning next season.
 
Hoping to add more depth to a defense that desperately needs it, the Falcons used two of their three final picks on Fresno State LB Mykal Walker and Cal S Jaylinn Hawkins. Even though some experts believe Atlanta missed out on some better players who were available. Their draft wrapped up with Syracuse P Sterling Hofrichter.
 
As a whole, the Falcons did a good job of addressing needs at cornerback, defensive tackle, and interior offensive line early, while trying to gather some depth for the defense later on. They were, however, a pass-rusher or two away from really getting high remarks.

Carolina Panthers

New head coach Matt Rhule made defense the priority during the draft, using all seven picks to address that side of the football. It started off with Auburn DT Derrick Brown, who Carolina opted for with the seventh overall pick. Brown is a do-it-all defensive linemen who the Panthers will likely turn to as their starting nose tackle beginning this season.
 
On Friday, Carolina targeted versatility, and actually found some great value along the way. They were able to land Penn State EDGE Yetur Gross-Matos at No. 38 after he was expected to be a first round selection. Gross-Matos should compete for a starting job as an outside linebacker in their 3-4 defensive scheme. Then in the beginning of the third round, the Panthers moved up to acquire Southern Illinois S Jeremy Chinn. Chinn is one of the more-versatile prospects in this class, giving Rhule a number of different ways to deploy him.
 
The Panthers focused hard on their secondary during during day 3, getting things started with Notre Dame CB Troy Pride. In the fifth round, they opted for West Virginia S Kenny Robinson, who recently played for the XFL’s St. Louis Battlehawks. They ended their draft with Baylor DT Bravvion Roy and Florida International CB Stantley Thomas-Oliver.
 
While there are some holes that remain on offense, particularly at tight end and guard, you can’t fault the Panthers for going all-in on improving their defense. They added a pair of guys who should be day one starters, as well as several players in the secondary who will be competitive. Overall, it was a very solid draft.

New Orleans Saints

The Saints has a league-low four selections during the draft, but experts agree they made the most of each of their picks. With the 24th overall selection, New Orleans took Michigan C Cesar Ruiz. Heralded as the top interior offensive lineman in this year’s draft, Ruiz will fight to earn a starting spot at either center or guard this fall.
 
Day 2 was a big one for the Saints. They didn’t have a second round pick, but moved a future third round pick in order to select Wisconsin LB Zack Baun 74th overall. Baun will likely get a chance to start at outside linebacker right away. Then later in the third round, New Orleans traded the majority of their day 3 picks away to move up to No. 105. It was there that they selected Dayton TE Adam Trautman, who some consider to be the best tight end in the draft. Trautman will be the tight end of the future for Sean Payton’s Saints, but may be the second-string tight end behind Jared Cook this season.
 
With most of their picks going toward Trautman, day 3 was fairly uneventful. They did, however, trade next year’s sixth round pick for a seventh round pick this year, selecting Mississippi State QB Tommy Stevens. With Stevens offering a unique skillset, he figures to be a replacement for Taysom Hill if Hill leaves after 2020.
 
Overall, the Saints went quality over quantity. Not just that, but they also drafted each of the, around or after their projected positions, especially Baun, so there was some good value combined with need. It was another strong draft for New Orleans.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
With Tom Brady behind center, the Bucs wanted to make sure their new QB would have protection at all costs. That’s why Iowa OT Tristan Wirfs falling to them was a dream scenario. Tampa Bay traded up one spot to select Wirfs 13th overall, where he is expected to start at right tackle immediately and improve their offensive line.
 
With their two day two selections, Tampa Bay went with Minnesota S Antoine Winfield Jr. and Vanderbilt RB Ke’Shawn Vaughn. With Winfield, the Bucs got someone who should be a play,Acker from the jump at free safety. As for Vaughn, he’ll fight for carries in a crowded backfield, but although he was considered a little bit of a reach in the third round, he should develop into a solid back.
 
On the third and final day of the draft, Tampa Bay took a fifth round flyer on Minnesota WR Tyler Johnson, who put up big numbers for the Golden Gophers. They also improved their defensive depth with Nebraska DY Khalil Davis and Temple LB Chapelle Russell before they rounded out their draft with another running back, Louisiana’s Raymond Calais.
 
Like many teams, targeting a pass-rusher will be high on Tampa’s list for after the draft, since that was probably the one area they fell short in. But it’s hard to argue with the pick of Wirfs, as the Bucs came out of this with a couple new starters to add to their impressive offseason thus far.
 
When you go to bet on the NFC South; do so at our favorite pay per head bookie site RealBookies.com

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