Our NFC South reporter Adam Barton rounds up his thoughts on the 2019 NFL Draft’s first round selection for his division.
With the first round of the 2019 draft complete, three of the NFC South teams shared four picks, as the Falcons traded back in to the first round to bolster their offensive line. Here is some instant reaction for each team’s picks.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Devin White – LB (5th Pick)
The start of the NFL draft went as expected
and that left the Bucs to take the best coverage linebacker on the board as the three picks above them saw the best defensive line talent go. While Josh Allen would have been tempting, you can’t fault the Falcons for taking a superstar linebacker, an immediate
replacement for Kwon Alexander – and by the way he is cheaper and better. The Butkus award winner will be a key piece and leader from day one behind an average defensive line. Between White, Lavonte David and Gerald McCoy, the Bucs are starting to build a
better front seven – now to address the secondary.
Atlanta Falcons: Chris Lindstrom – Guard (14th Pick) & Kaleb McGary – Tackle (31st Pick)
Having allowed 42 sacks last year and having
a so-so running game – they had the third fewest rush attempts in the league last year, the Falcons wanted to dominate the line of scrimmage and addressed that need with two picks. I have to say I think there can be questions raised, particularly as they now
won’t have any picks for rounds two and three, but on the face of it both picks are reaches.
That being said, they now have remade the
right side of their line. With Jonah Williams gone to the Bengals and Garrett Bradbury available but only a designated Centre rather than Guard, Lindstrom was the best option at 14, but he would likely have been available later. Cody Ford is not the polished
prospect that the Falcons needed to be a day one starter on the interior. Then Kaleb McGary was a good physical pickup to build the run game on with Devonta Freeman, but he will need to develop as a pass blocker, and is an odd pick given the talent still on
the board entering day two.
The Falcons gave up a lot to move back
up into the first round but if McGary and Lindstrom pair well on the right side of the line and Matt Ryan stays clean, the Falcons have to be a contender in the NFC. If it works, no one will remember the picks involved in the trade.
Carolina Panthers: Brian Burns – Edge (16th Pick)
Brian Burns was rising up boards almost
as quickly as he gets off the line of scrimmage. The edge rusher from Florida State fills a big need for the Panthers having had the sixth lowest sack total in the league in 2018. One can wonder if this pick would have been Montez Sweat had he not been diagnosed
with a heart condition. Burns has great moves that terrorised college football in the autumn, he has good length but his weight is a concern against the run. If he can play at a heavier weight, he will be a damaging player in the NFC South, though he may need
to start as a designated pass rusher.
New Orleans Saints: Yet To Pick
Unsurprisingly the Saints weren’t active at the back end of the first round, with only one pick on Friday and one in the top 160. With five of their six picks sitting in the fifth round or later, the Saints will need to hit in the later rounds and make the odd addition through free agency where needed – Offensive Line, Receiver and supplementary pieces on defence – but they are starting from a strong pont.
Image Credits: USA Today.