Onwards! Covering the NFC South today. Three teams from the south made it to the playoffs last year and that was without the highly touted, yet ultimately disappointing Tampa Bay Bucs. Looking at the rosters on paper, you wouldn’t bet against this division being the strongest in the NFL.
Round 1: (No. 26 overall) Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama.
Round 2: (No. 58) Isaiah Oliver, CB, Colorado.
Round 3: (No. 90) Deadrin Senat, DT, South Florida.
Round 4: (No. 126) Ito Smith, RB, Southern Miss.
Round 6: (No. 194) Russell Gage, WR, LSU; (No. 200) Foye Oluokun, LB, Yale.
The Falcons are another team that didn’t have many glaring holes in their roster. And so in the first two rounds they selected the best players available.
Calvin Ridley was the best route runner in the draft. His stock would have been that much higher if Alabama elected for passing plays more but not to worry, Ridley is still a first round receiver and he’s landed in a very nice spot. He doesn’t have the size to be a WR1 but that doesn’t matter in Atlanata where the all pro Julio Jones will occupy that role. Couple Ridley with Sanu and Atlanata have another season with a strong stable of receivers.
Oliver was another CB that could have gone in the first round. He’s got the size and above average speed but is probably not quite ready to be a starter yet. That doesn’t matter too much where he’ll likely start in sub packages, looking to develop his game in his first year.
Senat is a replacement for Dontari Poe who has joined the rival Panthers. He has potential to develop into a nice run stuffer alongside Grady Jarrett.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Round 1: (No. 12 overall) Vita Vea, DT, Washington.
Round 2: (No. 38) Ronald Jones II, RB, USC; (No. 53) M.J. Stewart, CB, North Carolina; (No. 63) Carlton Davis, CB, Auburn.
Round 3: (No. 94) Alex Cappa, OG, Humboldt State.
Round 4: (No. 117) Jordan Whitehead, S, Pittsburgh.
Round 5: (No. 144) Justin Watson, WR, Pennsylvania.
Round 6: (No. 202) Jack Cichy, LB, Wisconsin.
You know what would have been great? If Rodger Goddell came out and announced Tampa’s first round pick using his full name
“With the 12th pick in the first round of the 2018 draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select Tevita Tuli’aki’ono Tuipulotu Mosese Va’hae Fehoko Faletau Vea, Defensive Tackle, Washington”
Ah well, missed an opportunity there. But Tampa didn’t miss the opportunity to further improve their defensive line. The whole defence was terrible last year and Tampa made moves in the offseason to improve the line dramatically adding Jason Pierre-Paul, Vinny Curry, Beau Allen and Mitch Unrein. Vea is massive and could slot in to the interior of the line alongside pro-bowler Gerald McCoy to create a big powerful defensive line. Still though, the secondary is a concern and Florida native Derwin James was there for the taking, will they live to regret that?
Tampa traded out of their original slot at seven and got a couple of extra second round picks. With those they did increase the numbers in their secondary by picking up the cornerbacks Steward and Davis. Stewart might not offer the traditional speed of a cornerback but he has bags of footballing intelligence and will likely start as a nickelback corner. Davis is a long cornerback who would be best deployed in a man to man scheme.
The original Bucs pick in the second round went on running back Ronald Jones II. Once this pick was made I instantly circled him as a player to look at in fantasy. He’s going into a team without much quality at the position so I would expect him to start from the off. To help out, the Bucs drafted Cappa in the third round who showed good ability as a run blocking guard at the college level.
Round 1: (No. 24 overall) D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland.
Round 2: (No. 55) Donte Jackson, CB, LSU.
Round 3: (No. 85) Rashaan Gaulden, S, Tennessee.
Round 4: (No. 101) Ian Thomas, TE, Indiana; (No. 136) Marquis Haynes, Edge, Mississippi.
Round 5: (No. 161) Jermaine Carter, LB, Maryland.
Round 7: (No. 234) Andre Smith, LB, North Carolina; (No. 242) Kendrick Norton, DT, Miami.
Moore played with below average quarterbacks in Maryland and still managed to rack up a 1,000 yard season. Now he’s playing with one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL and in a position of need for the Panthers, so he should get plenty of opportunities to show off his playmaking abilities.
Thomas, picked in the 4th round is another intriguing prospect. Let’s not kid ourselves, Greg Olsen will maintain as the number one tight end in Carolina but he’s not getting any younger. Thomas has the athletic ability and the pass catching ability to take on some of the load. He needs to improve his route running but he should have time behind Olsen to perfect this over the coming season.
New Orleans Saints
Round 1: (No. 14 overall) Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA.
Round 3: (No. 91) Tre’Quan Smith, WR, UCF.
Round 4: (No. 127) Rick Leonard, OT, Florida State.
Round 5: (No. 164) Natrell Jamerson, S, Wisconsin.
Round 6: (No. 189) Kamrin Moore, CB, Boston College; (No. 201) Boston Scott, RB, Louisiana Tech.
Round 7: (No. 245) Will Clapp, C, LSU.
First off, I don’t like they trade they made to go up and get Davenport. This is nothing against Davenport himself, he could very well be a good player. It was the cost of the trade that I didn’t like. Two first round picks to move up to Green Bay’s spot to pick up to take a raw player is just too much. Pass rush is an area of need for the Saints, but they’ve gone too hard at fixing the problem for my liking. I did half expect them to take Lamar Jackson when they moved up as a long-term replacement for future Hall of Famer Drew Brees. Smith offers a decent alternative for Brees to throw to. At 6’2” and a sub 4.5 40 he’s got size and speed to become a good player. Other than that, there’s not an awful lot else to get excited about.