Grading the Draft: NFC South

With the second pick of the draft and one team possessing a pair of picks, the new NFC South Division was ready to turn up the heat last weekend and in the end that's exactly what they did in the Big Easy.

Atlanta 

Drafting TJ Duckett spells the end of Jamal Anderson and in the end was a solid choice in round one.  Third round pick Will Overstreet is an undersized end with a high revving motor that must make the transition to outside linebacker in the Falcons new three-four defensive alignment while Martin Bibla, chosen a frame later, offers strength up front for the running game.  Kurt Kittner was solid value in round five and a good quarterback to have behind Michael Vick.  Overall a nice collection of players but nothing stands out about this draft. 

Carolina 

New coach John Fox made the right choice tabbing Julius Peppers with the drafts second pick as well as taking Deshaun Foster a frame later.  Peppers has a great amount of upside potential while Foster could be their feature back in the future if he stays healthy.  After that the Panthers draft was rather unspectacular; Will Witherspoon, taken in round three, is not much of an upgrade at linebacker, Dante Wesley is a project at cornerback while Keith Heinrich and Pete Campion are bench players.  The hidden values could come with both fifth round choices; quarterback Randy Fasani and fullback Kyle Johnson, both prospects with a lot of talent but almost an equal amount of injury history. 

New Orleans 

The Saints had a lot of picks and used them all wisely getting quality and quantity.  Donte' Stallworth immediately upgrades the talent at receiver while fellow first round pick Charles Grant fills a desperate need on the defensive line and both should see action early into their rookie campaign.  Second round choice LeCharles Bentley offers versatility on the offensive line and could quickly be placed in the starting line-up while James Allen offers possibilities at outside linebacker.  Fourth round selection Keyou Craver was red-flagged by many teams because of a neck injury but is a steal while fifth round pick Mel Mitchell could be one of the draft's better-hidden treasures.  Both upgrade the available talent at cornerback and safety, respectively.  Quarterback JT O'Sullivan is a solid long-term prospect at quarterback while Derrius Monroe is a terrific athlete with a lot of upside if he concentrates on the football field and keeps his priorities in check.  The exciting aspect of the Saints draft is they not only chose players that will immediately fill needs but players with great potential for the future. 

Tampa Bay 

The Jon Gruden era started in Tampa but began with only a few draft choices.  Not owning a pick until late in the first day the Bucs tabbed Marquis walker in the third frame, a choice that was great value.  Walker offers more size and strength at the receiving core and will team nicely with Keyshawn Johnson and Joe Jurevicious.  Travis Stephens offers depth at running back but was selected a little early and except for tight end Tracey Wistrom, chosen in round seven, this was a very non-descript draft that may offer only limited production.

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