NFL Draft Grade 2021: NFC South

Carolina Panthers

Carolina PanthersPick 1.8: Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina (B)
Pick 2.59: Terrace Marshall Jr., WR, LSU (B+)
Pick 3.70: Brady Christensen, OT, BYU (A)
Pick 4.126: Chuba Hubbard, RB, Oklahoma State (B+)
Pick 5.158: Daviyon Nixon, DT, Iowa (A+)
Pick 5.166: Keith Taylor, CB, Washington (B+)
Pick 6.193: Deonte Brown, OG, Alabama (A)
Pick 6.204: Shi Smith, WR, South Carolina (B)
Pick 6.222: Thomas Fletcher, LS, Alabama (A)
Pick 7.232: Phil Hoskins, DT, Kentucky (A)

The Carolina Panthers’ draft was the hardest one to pin down in terms of grading. Do I like the fact that they skipped Fields for Jaycee Horn? No. However, if you take out the QB situation and assume that Matt Rhule really believes in Sam Darnold, then this team absolutely killed the draft. They got value all over and have one of the youngest and most talented rosters in the league.

Brady Christensen in the third and Deonte Brown in the sixth give the Panthers two incredibly talented offensive line pieces at extreme values. I think that Christensen can start year one, and Brown has the ability to turn himself into a solid LG/RG. Then, the team stole Nixon in the 5th round, one of my top DTs in the class. I had a 2nd/3rd round grade on Nixon, and that front-7 continues to get better and deeper with that pick.

With everything considered, if you look past passing on Fields, this draft was a slam dunk. The team clearly had the best draft in their division and should be competing this year. However, if Darnold busts and the team is not good this season, then questions are going to be asked on how the team chose a top CB over a potential starting QB.

Weighted GPA of Selections: 3.48 (A-)
Overall Class Grade: A-

Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta FalconsPick 1.4: Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida (C+)
Pick 2.40: Richie Grant, S, UCF (A)
Pick 3.68: Jalen Mayfield, OT, Michigan (A)
Pick 4.108: Darren Hall, CB, San Diego State (A-)
Pick 5.148: Ta’Quon Graham, DT, Texas (C-)
Pick 5.182: Adetokunbo Ogundeji, DE, Notre Dame (B+)
Pick 5.183: Avery Williams, CB, Boise State (B)
Pick 7.187: Frank Darby, WR, Arizona State (B+)

I think that the Falcons had a bit of an up-and-down draft, but they addressed a lot of needs with a lot of excellent prospects. One of my least favorite picks was Kyle Pitts. Now, this is because I am simply not that high on him. He is a great prospect, but I am not sold on the idea that he will be an elite mismatch and one of the best weapons of this draft. I think he can be as good as Darren Waller, which is awesome but not worth a 4th overall pick. If that pick goes to Sewell, Chase, or even Fields, then this draft becomes miles better for me. Honestly, a trade down probably made the most sense.

If I can look past the Pitts selection at four, then it is clear to see that the team got tremendous value with Grant in the second, Mayfield in the third, and Hall in the fourth. These are three excellent picks at positions of need back to back to back. Grant will be a starting safety and just what this team needs with the departure of Neal. Then, Mayfield could start at guard in his rookie year. Lastly, I think that Hall was one of the most underrated DBs in this draft, and I believe that he has a bright future in the NFL.

Weighted GPA of Selections: 3.19 (B)
Overall Class Grade: B+

New Orleans Saints

New Orleans SaintsPick 1.28: Payton Turner, DE, Houston (B+)
Pick 2.60: Pete Werner, LB, Ohio State (B)
Pick 3.76: Paulson Adebo, CB, Stanford (A)
Pick 4.133: Ian Book, QB, Notre Dame (F)
Pick 6.206: Landon Young, OT, Kentucky (C)
Pick 7.255: Kawaan Baker, WR, South Alabama (A)

The Saints’ draft was okay. It was not special or mind-blowing, but the team got some really solid players. The draft started out on the right foot, as I love Payton Turner as the replacement for Trey Hendrickson. Turner is a similar player who is simply a better athlete. I think that Turner can immediately replace Hendrickson’s production and has a much higher ceiling. The risk of going Werner instead of secondary paid off as Adebo fell to the Saints. Adebo is a tremendous talent with loads of upside, and this team desperately needed a starting CB.

My least favorite pick, without a doubt, is Ian Book. This is a waste of a 4th round pick. Book is not an NFL quarterback, and he probably is not an NFL backup. This pick only makes sense in the 6th or 7th round. The team has Winston and Hill, and if neither of these guys are the answer, then you will be drafting a top QB next year. I get that Book may just be a backup, but there was a lot of value at 133 for the Saints to get. I just do not understand this pick.

Weighted GPA of Selections: 2.76 (C-)
Overall Class Grade: C+

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa Bay BuccaneersPick 1.32: Joe Tryon, LB, Washington (C)
Pick 2.64: Kyle Trask, QB, Florida (C-)
Pick 3.95: Robert Hainsey, G, Notre Dame (A-)
Pick 4.129: Jaelon Darden, WR, North Texas (A-)
Pick 5.176: K.J. Britt, LB, Auburn (B-)
Pick 7.251: Chris Wilcox, CB, BYU (B)
Pick 7.259: Grant Stuard, LB, Houston (B)

The Championship Bucs are bringing back all 22 starters from their Super Bowl run. This allowed the team to go best player available at every spot; unfortunately, the big board of the Bucs must have been turned upside down as they often reached and got terrible value for players that just did not make sense. Joe Tyron is not a first-round value, and I fail to see why people love him. He’s a decent edge, but I think his traits make a lot more sense as a late-second, maybe third-round pick.

Then, the team went Kyle Trask. I am fine going QB here to get Brady’s successor, but the team went and got the 3rd best QB of that tier. With Mills and Mond still on the board, I have no idea how you can choose Kyle Trask. His processing is bad, his arm talent is the same as the other two, at best, and his success this year simply had to do with having a loaded offense. Mills would have made so much more sense as a Brady successor due to his processing and accuracy, but if you want upside, you go Kellen Mond with his cannon and physical traits. Trask is a career backup at best.

Following the first two rounds, the rest of the draft was decent for the Bucs. Landing Hainsey and Darden in the 3rd and 4th saved this draft from being a disaster in my eyes. Both of these players were good values and were extremely underrated going into the draft.

Weighted GPA of Selections: 2.65 (C-)
Overall Class Grade: C-

Matthew Amato is a UC Berkeley Economics and Philosophy graduate. Matthew follows and writes about the NFL, Fantasy sports, MLB, European soccer, Professional Lacrosse, and e-sports. He has managed his own tournament baseball team and coached high school lacrosse. In his free time, Matthew used to compete competitively in Call of Duty and Counter-Strike.

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