NFC South draft grades

Carolina Panthers – Overall grade B+

After getting their franchise pivot last year, it was time to build around Cam and get him some guys to protect him, some weapons to work with and some stability on the other side of the ball to give him a chance to win.

Value Pick – 2nd round pick: Aminu Silatolu – Tackle, Midwestern St.

Silatolu was moving up the boards leading up to the draft and the Panthers were surely happy to have him available on day two. He is a small school player so he did not have a chance to play against elite competition, but he can play either tackle position and even bump inside to play some guard.

He will likely start out playing inside with Gross and Otah on the ends of the line and Kalil in the middle. Silatolu will start from day one barring an injury, and should start for the next decade.

Sleeper Pick – 4th round pick: Joe Adams – WR, Arkansas

Adams is a solid SEC product that will instantly add some explosiveness to a passing attack that turned one dimensional at times last year. Brandon LaFell has not been able to be that solid number two man behind Steve Smith, and Adams could swoop in and take that roll if all goes according to plan.

Surprise Pick – 4th round pick: Frank Alexander – DE, Oklahoma

Alexander is a bit of a tweener without a true position of defined set of skills. A two year starter for the Sooners, he can rush the passer with marginal success, and lacks coverage skills in the flat. He was a late-round prospect that the Panthers felt that he was worth taking in the mid-rounds.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Overall Grade B

It was a down years for the Buccos last year after Josh Freeman burst onto the scene a year prior. The young pivot could not get back on track with Mike Williams, and the team found themselves near the bottom of the league. They cracked out the check book for Vinny Jackson, Carl Nicks and Eric Wright, and continued to improve through the draft.

Value Pick – 2nd round pick: Lavonte David – OLB, Nebraska

The Bucs front seven is one of the youngest in the league, and they added a stud to that core in David. He will be able to step in for Adam Hayways on the right side of the 4-3 and provide a solid mixture of pressure and run stuffing.

He has a solid mix of size, speed and strength, and if he can shed blockers off of his 6-foot-1 frame, then he should be able to step in from day one and succeed.

Sleeper Pick – 7th round pick: Drake Dunsmore – TE, Northwestern

More and more teams are going towards spread sets with double tight, and Dunsmore might be able to provide that. Winslow is obviously the main man, but Dunsmore could bring a Cooley/Aaron Hernandez type look to the mix down the road.

He is still raw, but he has impressive 4.64 speed that could give him the ability to separate from safeties down the field. If the Pirates can get anything out of the 7th round pick, call it a success.

Surprise pick – 1st round pick: Mark Barron – SS, Alabama

The Bucs were positioned at 5 to get Claiborne, but they decided that Wright, Talib and Barber was enough on the corner for now. So instead they traded down for the Bama safety. After releasing Tanard Jackson, they clearly had a need for a safety, but if was mighty early in the draft for a player that may not be a Eric Berry/Earl Thomas game breaker.

New Orleans Saints – Overall Grade C-

Well it isnt that easy to have an effective draft when you trade away your first round pick and have your second round pick taken away. Then you use your first pick to pick a kid out of a Canadian University.

Value Pick – 4th round pick: Nick Toon – WR, Wisconsin

After losing Meachem, Brees needed another weapon to spread the field with. He has solid size and ball skills that should allow him to be effective early in his career. Toon was a surprise to fall to the fourth, and whoever it is making the picks for the Saints was surely happy to see him waiting there.

Surprise Pick – 3rd round pick: Akiem Hicks – DE, Regina

Who? Well thats a good question. After running into some eligibility situations at LSU, contemplating playing pro in Canada and then finally ending up playing for the mighty Regina Rams.

End is not exactly their biggest need either, so the mysterious man making the picks is lucky that no one knows who he is. Otherwise people might criticize these picks.

Sleeper pick? Well they only had three other picks, and it does not appear as if any of them have any sleeper chance. Best of luck Saints.

Atlanta Falcons – Overall Grade C+ 

After making the huge Julio Jones splash last year, Atlanta was well aware coming into the draft they they spent most of their chips last year. Without a first round pick to speak of this year, it was time to get creative for the Falcons. Did they succeed? Not really.

Value Pick – 2nd round pick: Peter Konz – C, Wisconsin

The best centre in the draft will step in from day one under Matty Ice try to solidify a line that has been overlooked frequently when examining the team. He is a beast and will have no problem picking up the Falcons system.

Sleeper Pick – 5th round pick: Jonathan Massaquoi – DE, Troy 

He will get to step in and learn from Ray Edwards and John Abraham for the next couple years. He could step in this year as a situational rusher and give some tackles some nightmares.

Surprise Pick – 3rd round pick: Lamar Holmes – Tackle, Southern Miss

He is big, but he had no business going this early. 6-foot-5 and 320-pounds makes him sound appealing, but his technique is not up to par with his massive size. Bobby Massie was still on the board, and why the Falcons didnt take him will forever be a mystery.

Shane Clemons

About Shane Clemons

Shane Clemons came from humble beginnings creating his own Jaguars blog before moving on to SBNation as a featured writer for the Jaguars. He then moved to Bloguin where he briefly covered the AFC South before taking over Bloguin's Jaguars blog. Since the inception of This Given Sunday, Shane has served as an editor for the site, doing his best not to mess up a good thing.