2020 NFC South Draft Report

We’re about to grade the 2020 NFC South Draft, sound good? Good

If you’ve read the Sports are from Venus Mock Drafts, you know that I place a high premium on team needs in the draft.  These grades will reflect how well I think each team has done in addressing their weak spots.  

Atlanta Falcons

Picks

1st Round: 16 A.J. Terrell, CB, Clemson

2nd Round: 47 Marlon Davidson, DT, Auburn

3rd Round: 78 Matt Hennessy, C, Temple

I like this draft for the Falcons a lot.  Not a ton of splash, and you can argue whether Terrell was the best corner available at sixteenth overall, but Atlanta focused on their needs, and drafted accordingly. 

Terrell will be a solid upgrade to the secondary, and Marlon Davidson will provide both depth and power to a defensive line that needed more of both last season.  The third-round pick of Matt Hennessy is exactly the type of pick I was hoping for in the middle rounds.  He’ll slide around the offensive line for a while until he becomes the Falcons full-time center.

Grade: B.  There isn’t a splash pick here, but solid choices given team needs and available players.  These sorts of picks don’t look glamorous, but they do make teams better.  

Carolina Panthers

Picks

1st Round: 7 Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn 

2nd Round: 38 Yetur-Gross-Matos, DE, Penn State

2nd Round: 64 Jeremy Chinn, S, Southern Illinois

Carolina is a team in flux, with both Ron Rivera and Cam Newton out, it will be a whole new feeling in Carolina.  That’s going to start on the defensive side of the ball, where the Panthers went all in to revamp a unit that allowed the second most points in the league last season.  

Brown is a no-brainer addition to a defensive line that struggled against the run in 2019.  The addition of Yetur Gross-Matos will bring some heat off the edge.  Jeremy Chinn is a solid pick to bolster the secondary from the end of the second round.  Sure, the offense needs some revamping as well, but Carolina was wise to focus on defense in this draft. 

Grade:  A.  Derrick Brown might be the best interior defensive lineman in the past several drafts. He’s a foundational defensive player that will help build a winning culture in Carolina for years.  

New Orleans Saints

Picks

1st Round: 24 Cesar Ruiz, C/G, Michigan

3rd Round: 74 Lack Baun, LB, Wisconsin

3rd Round: 105 Adam Trautman, TE, Dayton

Let’s be frank.  The Saints weren’t exactly needy.  They’ve won the division three years in a row and have been in the mix for the NFC’s best record the past two.  Some folks didn’t like the Ruiz pick, but I’m not sure what people were expecting New Orleans to do.  They have plenty of weapons and playmakers on both sides of the ball. I thought they might look for depth on defense, but they spent their first rounder on a versatile protector for Drew Brees. 

It’s a good move. 

I like the addition of Baun to the linebacker corps, and I’m intrigued that they took Tommy Stevens from Mississippi State, who wasn’t likely to get drafted.  At all. Apparently, the Panthers had come to an agreement with Stevens’ people before the end of the draft (a major no-no), before New Orleans traded back into the seventh round to grab him.  

Grade: B.  Similar to the Falcons, there isn’t a super splashy pick here.  Don’t be fooled by that.  This was a smart draft with limited resources for the Saints and they did well to bring on several players who can become key contributors for years to come.  

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Picks

1st Round: 13 Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa

2nd Round: 45 Antoine Winfield Jr., S, Minnesota

3rd Round: Ke’Shawn Vaughn, RB, Vanderbilt

Tampa Bay made lots of moves in free agency, so they can be excused if they didn’t hit a home run in the draft.  I like spending a first rounder on protection for Tom Brady, but Tampa Bay’s problems were mostly on defense last season.  Antoine Winfield Jr. will be a smart and versatile defensive piece, but I would have liked to see more attention paid to the defensive front.  Vaughn is a power back that can pound it in, but I feel like they could have gotten more value from that pick on defense.  

Grade: C. Tampa Bay has gambled that Tom Brady will make up for all of Jameis Winston’s turnovers last year, but that’s a big ask.  I’m not sure that Tampa Bay can compete with New Orleans for the division as constructed.  Time will tell. 

For more thoughts and opinions from Tom, check out his author page.

Image Source: CBS Sports

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