The Champion BUCS reside here. And they intend to repeat that title as you might have noticed with their re-signing splurge. But nevertheless, the remainder of the division is determined to put up a fight. And those teams all have major holes to fill in quality personnel. With SAM DARNOLD now in Carolina, don’t look for the Panthers to draft a QB, at least not early. The SAINTS need to replace DREW BREES, but might settle for a year with WINSTON & HILL. We’ll know for sure when they Pick in Round 1, but it seems as though the FALCONS will try to rebuild around MATT RYAN and play-out his big contract for a few more years. No trades in my Mocks, but who knows in reality.
Round 1, Pick 4 KYLE PITTS TE/WR Florida
Round 2, Pick 35 JAMIN DAVIS LB Kentucky
Round 3, Pick 68 MICHAEL CARTER RB UNC
Round 4, Pick 108 CADEN STERNS S Texas
Round 5, Pick 148 ROBERT HAINSEY IOL Notre Dame
Round 5, Pick. 182 KEITH TAYLOR CB Washington
Round 5, Pick 183 RICHARD LeCOUNTE S Georgia
Round 6, Pick 187 DAZZ NEWSOME WR/RS UNC
Round 7, Pick 219 IAN BOOK QB Notre Dame
PITTS is the most dynamic receiving weapon in this Draft. He can line up anywhere for MATTY ICE. JAMIN DAVIS came on like gangbusters as an NFL prospect last season. Expect these two guys to both win starting jobs as soon as Training Camp opens. CARTER is a do it all RB, with speed, quickness, contact balance, and great hands as a receiver. He may be only 5’8, but he packs a wallop at 202 lbs. He and VFA MIKE DAVIS should share the RB spot. STERNS, LeCOUNTE and DAVIS. should add depth and quality to their secondary, which lost KEANU NEAL in VFA. HAINSEY can back up all 3 IOL spots, as well as OT in a pinch, but I project him as a starter at LG for them. IAN BOOK is a winning QB with a high FBI. His intangibles outweigh his skill-set. Now, if they pay more attention to URFA than DIMITROFF did, they can easily add another 12-15 competitive Rookies to their Fall roster.
Round 1, Pick 8 DeVONTA SMITH WR/RS Alabama
Round 2, Pick 39 DILLON RADUNZ OT N. Dakota State
Round 3, Pick 73 JAMES HUDSON OL Cincinnati
Round 4, Pick 113 JERMAR JEFFERSON RB Oregon State
Round 5, Pick 151 BOBBY BROWN DT Texas A&M
Round 6, Pick 193 NOAH GRAY TE Duke
Round 6, Pick 222 JALEN CAMP WR Georgia Tech
Don’t forget their Draft starts with QB DARNOLD, and for this year, only cost them a 6th Round Pick. For quite a while, I thought HC RUHLE was going to reverse his drafting trend from last year and take all Offensive Position players this year. However, he broke it up with BROWN, a talented DT in Round 5, Pick 151. I think their high value Pick could turn out to be RB JEFFERSON from the Pac-12. Coming off of an injury plagued 2020 season, it might be wise to reduce McCAFFREY’s workload, and maybe JEFFERSON can convince his coaches to do so. DeVONTA SMITH, who I refer to as a ‘ghost’ after the catch, should make a good receiving corps even more dangerous and more than make up for the loss of Samuel to D.C. Their last Pick in CAMP will, of course, be raw coming out of run oriented Tech, (though that is an evolving situation), but given his athletic Pro Day numbers, he may have serious long range potential. NOAH GRAY is an underrated TE, IMO. Watch for him to get more touches as the season progresses. Rounds 2 & 3 were both smart moves to add more talent to their OL group, at a lower price, and lots less mileage than the guys they will likely replace. Call it another winning Draft for RUHLE, especially when DARNOLD progresses as their QB, under Offensive Coordinator JOE BRADY.
Round 1, Pick 28 TERRACE MARSHALL WR LSU
Round 2, Pick 60 BREVIN JORDAN TE Miami (F)
Round 3, Pick 98 ROBERT ROCHELL CB Central Arkansas
Round 3, Pick 105 RONNIE PERKINS ER/OB Oklahoma
Round 4, Pick 133 HAMSAH NASIRILDEEN S/LB Florida State
Round 6, Pick 218 JAVIAN HAWKINS RB Louisville
Round 7, Pick 229 BUDDY JOHNSON IB Texas A&M
Round 7, Pick 255 ZECH McPHEARSON CB Texas Tech
When they started out with MARSHALL as their first Pick, I thought that some day PEYTON is going to pick LSU guys from start to finish. But not this year. MARSHALL and JORDAN give their O a big boost in energy and athleticism. They can both catch and add on some serious YAC. HAWKINS is an explosive little runner, who will determine his own amount of touches if he can improve his ball security issues. Their secondary gets a big boost with ballhawking Corners ROCHELL & McPHEARSON. S NASIRILDEEN is incredibly athletic. I know they are thinking that he could be DERWIN JAMES with time and coaching. He should dominate on Special Teams as well. PERKINS is an accomplished Edge-Rusher right now whom they hope to mold into a legit OLB. JOHNSON is a good athlete that can play a bit in space. After a few thin Drafts, this year they got 8 bodies and most have intriguing pro potential.
Round 1, Pick 32 KWITY PAYE ER/DE Michigan
Round 2, Pick 64 RICHIE GRANT S UCF
Round 3, Pick 95 AARON BANKS OG Notre Dame
Round 4, Pick 137 KENNY YEBOAH TE Ole Miss
Round 5, Pick 176 MONTY RICE ILB Georgia
Round 6, Pick 217 KYLEN GRANSON H-B/TE SMU
Round 7, Pick 251 ANTONIO PHILLIPS CB Ball State
Round 7, Pick 259 GRANT STUARD LB/ST Houston
Because they kept all 22 starters from their Super Bowl victory, the team really didn’t face any “gotta have” needs in this Draft. So they took some back-ups that fit their schemes and might replace a few defections next off-season. PAYE is an impact Edge-Rusher that will be groomed most likely as a JPP successor. GRANT is a multi-skilled athletic S that will be a starter in the near future. BANKS is a big road-grader with high pedigree from Notre Dame. YEBOAH is also a talented athlete who catches well and will block when called upon. Gotta have some depth here because when/if BRADY retires, so will GRONK (again). The team doesn’t carry a FB under “B.A.”, but GRANSON gets high grades as an H-B type. Watch for STUARD when the action starts. He’s a surprisingly good athlete for his bowling-ball body type, and breathes fire when he plays. He should star on Special Teams. Barring injuries, I could picture all of these Draft Picks making their 53-man roster.
I like all of these Draft efforts, but I don’t see anyone catching the BUCS in this division. Only Father Time and/or the injury bug could take them down… like any team in the NFL. Out of 32 total Picks for this Division, they got 6 of my Top 50 ranked prospects.
Next up the AFC South.