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2017 NFL Draft: NFC South Recap

How did the rest of the NFC South fare in this year’s draft?

NFL: 2017 NFL Draft Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL Draft is always a fun spectacle to partake in, and it is usually a relief to us all once it gets here. Months of going back and forth on prospects and guessing who will take them is finally brought to an end once the picks start being announced. From the various hot takes, grades and seemingly general consensus here on CSR, the Carolina Panthers had a very good draft. We were able to address several need positions while adding quality talent to a team that needs only a few pieces here and there to get back to the form it had it 2015. But if the Panthers want to make the postseason again, they will need to compete against a division that did pretty good draft wise this year as well.

Let’s take a look at what our divisional foes did to better their teams to pursue the NFL’s top prize next season.

Atlanta Falcons

Round 1, Pick 26 (from Seahawks): Takkarist McKinley, DE, UCLA

Round 3, Pick 11 (75 overall) (from Bills): Duke Riley, LB, LSU

Round 4, Pick 30 (136 overall): Sean Harlow, G, Oregon St.

Round 5, Pick 5 (149 overall) (from Bills through Rams): Damontae Kazee, CB, San Diego St.

Round 5, Pick 12 (156 overall) (from Bills): Brian Hill, RB, Wyoming

Round 5, Pick 31 (174 overall): Eric Saubert, TE, Drake

The Falcons are explosive on offense, so there is no surprise they decided to go defense with their first two picks. McKinley gives the Falcons defense another speed edge rusher who can give offenses multiple looks opposite team sack leader Vic Beasley, while Riley will give them more depth at LB at worst. While the Falcons went half and half on picks for both the offense and the defense, it is clear they want to beef up the pass rush even more and with McKinley, it appears they have done just that. It may not be the sexiest draft class, but the Falcons really don’t need much more to stay competitive for the foreseeable future.

They might have blown a 28-3 lead in the Super Bowl, but they didn’t blow this draft.

New Orleans Saints

Round 1, Pick 11: Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio St.

Round 1, Pick 32 (from Patriots): Ryan Ramczyk, T, Wisconsin

Round 2, Pick 10 (42 overall): Marcus Williams, S, Utah

Round 3, Pick 3 (67 overall) (from 49ers through Bears): Alvin Kamara, RB, Tennessee

Round 3, Pick 12 (76 overall): Alex Anzalone, LB, Florida

Round 3, Pick 39 (103 overall) (Compensatory Pick - from Patriots through Browns): Trey Hendrickson, LB, Florida Atlantic

Round 6, Pick 12 (196 overall): Al-Quadin Muhammad, DE, Miami

The Saints are a team with a countdown clock, and that clock is Drew Brees. The Saints still don’t seem to have a plan in place for when Brees eventually retires, and opted to not draft a potential replacement this year. Instead, they seem to be going all in on trying to give him and the rest of the team the pieces it needs to compete this year. While the Saints are an offensive juggernaut at times, the usual suspect in their losses is the defense. Much like the Falcons, the Saints went with the skill position guy in Lattimore, one of the draft’s top playmakers in the secondary. Ramczyk will be counted on to shore up the OL, although it is curious they opted to take him over Cam Robinson who had a lot more starting experience in college. Kamara was the only other offensive pick in a defensive heavy draft class for the Saints, and will likely be a spell back or gimmick guy behind Adrian Petersen and Mark Ingram.

The Saints will always be a pest so long as Sean Payton has Brees. I feel like they also needed to add some receiving help, but Brees could likely make do with the Browns receivers and still put points up on other teams.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Round 1, Pick 19: OJ Howard, TE, Alabama

Round 2, Pick 18 (50 overall): Justin Evans, S, Texas A&M

Round 3, Pick 20 (84 overall): Chris Godwin, WR, Penn St.

Round 3, Pick 43 (107 overall) (Compensatory selection - from Jets): Kendell Beckwith, LB, LSU

Round 5, Pick 18 (162 overall): Jeremy McNichols, RB, Boise St.

Round 7, Pick 5 (223 overall) (From Dolphins through Rams): Stevie Tu'ikolovatu, DT, USC

One of the bigger “steals” of the draft was OJ Howard falling to the Bucs at 19. As one of the proponents to get Howard in a Panthers uniform, I was rather displeased to say the least to see him go to a team that already has some great offensive talent. Despite his flaws, Jameis Winston now has a complete cadre of receivers to throw to, with star WR Mike Evans and the newly drafted Howard and Chris Godwin. Adding a potential starter to the secondary in Justin Evans certainly improves their defense as well. Their running game might be the only thing to hold them back if Doug Martin can’t get back to form or if the OL continues to struggle creating room.

So who did it best?

To me, the Buccaneers improved the most. As a young team on the rise with the youngest QB in the division, the Buccaneers appear are positioned to challenge for the NFC South crown yet again. To be totally honest though, I can’t say any team had a bad draft in this division, as each team addressed some key needs with some quality talent. Let us know your thoughts on our divisional foes and how the Panthers will compete with them this year.

Poll

Who had the best draft out of our three divisional rivals?

This poll is closed

  • 8%
    Atlanta Falcons
    (63 votes)
  • 19%
    New Orleans Saints
    (139 votes)
  • 72%
    Tampa Bay Buccaneers
    (527 votes)
729 votes total Vote Now