I want to start this article off by stating my "pre-write" from good ole BW was quoted as follows, and mind you, this was early this afternoon, prior to the draft:
1. The Panthers' pick was awesome!
2. The Bucs traded their pick for Revis, so they're dummies.
3. The Saints pick... LOLZ they're stoopid, AMIRITE?
4. The Falcons pick was a waste because they suck.
And that's my article folks...
Kidding aside, I believe each team did a fairly decent job drafting with what was left on the board. I'll start with the Panthers pick, and my personal breakdown.
Carolina Panthers select Star Lotulelei
Honestly, I didn't expect Star to still be a plausible pick at #14. Though some mock drafts did slate him to fall near us, the general consensus here at the CSR was that we would be looking at only one, maybe none of the three top defensive tackles come draft time. There isn't much to be said about this pick that hasn't already been said, but this was probably the best the Panthers could have done (short of EJ Manuel) at this spot. Star fills a need and was absolutely the best player available at 14, and I was stunned that he fell so far. I held my breath when the Raiders and Jets picked before us. Luckily, the Raiders elected to take DJ Hayden, and the Jets elected to take an under tackle, Sheldon Richardson, letting the Star fall into our laps.
This pick effectively fills the gaping hole at Nose Tackle for the Panthers. Star will most likely step in day one and start, seeing as the only other Nose Tackles are Colin Cole, Frank Kearse, and Sione Fua. All have at least some experience, and the rotation will be good for the rookie, but Star will definitely step in and play day one here in Charlotte. Star was often listed in the top 5 overall prospects, and has the ability to hold this position for a long time. The ultimate goal is for Star to do what he does best, and that is eat up space and stop the run. Star is often criticized for lack of pass rush, but having two 10+ sack defensive ends and the veteran Dwan Edwards also attacking the quarterback should neutralize this issue. With those four, and a bevy of talented linebackers, the Panthers definitely can be included in the conversation of "best 4-3 front seven in the NFL", should Star pan out.
Other notable players on the board- Tyler Eifert, Kenny Vaccaro, Shariff Floyd, Deandre Hopkins
New Orleans Saints select Kenny Vaccaro
Kenny Vaccaro would be the next player taken following the selection of Star by Carolina. Vaccaro sat atop most draft boards as the best safety in the entire draft. The Saints currently have Roman Harper and Malcolm Jenkins returning from 2012, along with Jim Leonard on the roster. However, Harper and Leonard have a combined 16 seasons under their belts, while Jenkins often steps in at Free Safety. Vaccaro played Strong Safety and would play up close to the line of scrimmage, so he will most likely compete for the strong safety position. Roman Harper, while not being a name us Panthers fans necessarily like, is a relatively good safety in run support, but sometimes struggled in the passing game. Introducing the young and talented Vaccaro to fight for a spot can create a massive improvement.
The Saints' defense was destroyed in 2012, being logged as statistically the WORST DEFENSE in NFL history. While the offense can often skew this statistic, the addition of a player like Vaccaro can eliminate some big plays, while not necessarily seeing much drop off in run support. The Saints safety position can be stamped as "solid" after this draft, possibly better,
Other notable players on the board- Eric Reid, Justin Pugh, Shariff Floyd, Sylvester Williams
Atlanta Falcons select Desmond Trufant (via trade with Rams)
The Falcons elected to surrender their first rounder, along with a third and sixth round pick to move up 8 spots in the draft and select Desmond Trufant. You have to hand it to the Falcons, when they know they want a certain player, they do what they must to get him. The Falcons would move up and select one of the better cornerbacks in the draft, in the hopes to solidify a secondary that lost Dunta Robinson and Brent Grimes to free agency. The Falcons already have Asante Samuel, along with a few solid depth players. Desmond Trufant also has the ability to come in and start day one for the Falcons, and in a pass heavy NFC South, this pick might have been vital.
The Falcons were victims of picking late in the draft however. One could argue that Offensive Tackle is a glaring need, along with defensive end, after the losses of Tyson Clabo and John Abraham, respectively. But, as often happens, the value simply wasn't there. Five offensive tackles were selected prior to the Falcons pick, and three of the top defensive ends were gone as well. Bjoern Werner and Datone Jones were still on the board, but Trufant's talents were clearly more valuable at that pick in their eyes.
Other notable players on the board- Bjoern Werner, Datone Jones, Alec Ogletree
Tampa Bay Buccaneers trade first round pick prior to draft for Darrelle Revis
The Buccaneers were in dire need of a corner, and elected to trade for a proven (albeit, injured) player in this league. If Revis can return to form for the Bucs, this pick was well worth it, especially with the contract specifics drawn up stipulating no guaranteed money.
The Jets would select Dee Milliner with their first pick, and Sheldon Richardson with their second from the Bucs. The Jets certainly made it obvious that patching up the defense is a priority. The Jets, in essence, replaced Revis with a new young corner, and still shed the contractual obligations to Revis. It is unclear what they would have done if Revis remained in New York, but adding Sheldon Richardson was a bonus. Some experts would scratch their heads at the pick of Richardson, but adding one of the top defensive tackles can't hurt, right?
There you have it, Panther fans. The NFC South had a very good first day, and we will see how the rest of the draft pans out for each side. Who had the best draft? Answer in the comments/poll below, and from all of us at CSR, stay tuned for all your draft coverage needs!