NFL Draft 2022: NFC South Team Grades

NFL Draft 2022: NFC South Team Grades
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As we review the 2022 NFL Draft we will be giving out team grades for all 32 teams, going division by division.

We, of course won’t know how these drafts will pan out until the players take to the fields but here we grade each draft upon how we evaluated each player.

Here are our NFC South team grades

NFC SOUTH TEAM GRADES

ATLANTA FALCONS- A-

Image: USC Athletics
  • #8 – DRAKE LONDON – WR -USC
  • #38 – ARNOLD EBIKETIE – DE – Penn State
  • #58 – TROY ANDERSEN – LB – Montana State
  • #74 – DESMOND RIDDER – QB – Cincinnati
  • #82 – DeANGELO MALONE – LB – Western Kentucky
  • #151 – TYLER ALLGEIER– RB – BYU
  • #190 – JUSTIN SHAFFER – IOL – Georgia
  • #213 – JOHN FITZPATRICK – TE -Georgia

My Falcons fans friends headed into draft night with some trepidation, but overall I felt they pulled off a good haul. Having their choice of wide receivers to replenish a barren room, they clearly felt Drake London was the best option for the scheme they wish to run. Arnold Ebiketie at 38 was a fine pick, he will be a complete menace to opposing o-linemen. Troy Andersen, DeAngelo Malone and Tyler Allgeier are all fine additions who should contribute fairly early. However, for me, the piece de resistance was getting Desmond Ridder at 74.

For weeks we had heard the Falcons top brass were keen on him and there were rumblings they could take him at 8. Now he is in the fold, without the added pressure or expectation of being a top 10 pick, he can focus on challenging for a starting role early in his career. Although their roster is far from elite, things are possibly a little rosier in Atlanta.

CAROLINA PANTHERS – B+

Image: CBS Sports
  • #6 – IKEM EKWONU – OT – NC State
  • #94 – MATT CORRAL – QB – Ole Miss
  • #120 – BRANDON SMITH– LB – Penn State
  • #189 – AMARE BARNO – DE – Virginia Tech
  • #199 – CADE MAYS – OL – Tennessee
  • #242 – KALON BARNES – CB – Baylor

The Carolina Panthers came into the 2022 Draft in a bit of a bind. #6 almost seemed like a millstone around their neck. Pick a QB and they would struggle to protect him. Pick an O-lineman and they enter the season with Sam Darnold under centre. But I genuinely believe the Panthers managed to pull the proverbial rabbit out of the hat. Ikem Ekwonu was my top rated offensive tackle and will shore up the left side of the line. Matt Corral was touted as possible late 1st rounder, so to get him at 94 is good value – he will be able to compete in training camp for the starting job immediately.

Brandon Smith is an exciting LB prospect with dynamism and athleticism and again is a good value pick. Cade Mays, a former 5 star recruit, is a nasty developmental prospect on the interior of the offensive line. Kalon Barnes at 242 may be the biggest steal – he has all the tools to be a success, but just needs to put it all together consistently – a worthwhile gamble.

By securing a top tackle prospect, as well as a QB that could’ve gone earlier, the Panthers may just have pulled it off. Will it save Matt Rhule? That remains the biggest question of all.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS – C+

Image: Who Dat Dish
  • #11 – CHRIS OLAVE – WR – Ohio State
  • #19 – TREVOR PENNING– OT – Norther Iowa
  • #49 – ALONTAE TAYLOR – CB – Tennessee
  • #161 – D’MARCO JACKSON – LB – Appalachian State
  • #194 – JORDAN JACKSON – DT – Air Force

The New Orleans clearly knew what they wanted in the early round of the draft, highlighted by their pre-draft trade with the Eagles to secure 2 first round picks. With a run on receivers starting, the Saints traded up again to snare their man in Ohio State flyer Chris Olave. Trevor Penning will come in to start at LT but has big shoes to fill, and is still has some way to go as a prospect.

The Saints largely ignored the middle rounds of the draft, where there seemed to be the most value. Alontae Taylor does seem quite a reach at 49, despite his obvious qualities. D’Marco Jackson tested extremely well, as his athletic upside is worth a shout in round 5. There were still some DTs on the board when Jordan Jackson was selected that I would have preferred, however the Saints obviously saw something they liked in the Air Force man. The Saints clearly addressed their main priorities in round 1 but I can’t help feeling they missed the real value in this draft.

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS – B+

Image: Baltimore Beatdown
  • #33 – LOGAN HALL– DL – Houston
  • #57 – LUKE GODEKE – OL – Central Michigan
  • #91 – RACHAAD WHITE – RB – Arizona State
  • #106 – CADE OTTON – TE – Washington
  • #133 – JAKE CAMARDA – P – Georgia
  • #157 – ZYON MCCOLLUM – CB – Sam Houston State
  • #218 – KO KIEFT – TE -Minnesota
  • #248 – ANDRE ANTHONY – DE – LSU

The Tampa Bay Bucanneers had a nice, solid draft. They have a roster that is capable of winning now and added several pieces to supplement this. Logan Hall is a player that I love, and offers an penetrating style to complement Vita Vea on the interior. After losing both starting guards, the Bucs selected wisely in Luke Godeke who has real leadership qualities. Rachaad White has the receiving chops out of the back field that you know TB12 is just going to love. TE was also a position of need and Cade Otton fits the bill – he is versatile and blocks well. McCollum’s Senior Bowl showing and his exciting tools make him a decent developmental outside guy. And when you are a serious contender, why not draft a punter?

How would you grade the NFC SOUTH draft classes? Let us know over on Twitter @NinetynineYards and @stuie17

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