THe NFC South is arguably the weakest division in the NFL. The Panthers and Falcons look to hit the jackpot in this Draft and put them themselves in the hunt with the SAINTS, who look to be retooling.
Round 1, Pick 8 VICTOR BEASLEY/ER/CLEMSON/6’3/246 GBN Rank: 8
He’s a monster behind the opponents line of scrimmage. His new physique, at 247 lbs., makes him even more versatile from a positional standpoint. This fills one of the biggest needs for the Defense and gets things off to a rousing start.
Round 2, Pick 42 DEVIN FUNCHESS/TE/MICHIGAN/6’4/232 GBN Rank: 46
The FLACONS had no replacement for retired TE/TONY GONZALEZ last season, and MATT RYAN paid dearly for the lack of an underneath weapon to supplement WHITE/JONES at WR. FUNCHESS won’t be much help blocking for the run game, but as a Move-TE he should catch 50 plus balls. This would be a huge boost to the team’s passing attack.
Round 3, Pick 73 JAVORIS ALLEN/RB/SOUTHERN CAL/6’1/221 GBN Rank: 80
The STEVEN JACKSON experiment is over in Atlanta. As I suspected when they signed as a VFA, the tread on the tires was almost gone when he arrived. JACKSON has no burst left in his legs and was oft injured. ALLEN will more than fill the void. He’s a tough, explosive runner who moves the sticks. He’s also very low mileage coming out of college. Look for him to be their leading rusher as a Rookie. He’s also a good hands receiver.
Round 4, Pick 107 D’JOUN SMITH/CB/FLORIDA ATLANTIC/5’10/189 GBN Rank: 107
SMITH started 32 games in his college career. He’s not a great athlete so Zone Cover is his best playing option. Should also contribute on Special Teams coverage units. Had 7 INT as a junior, only 1 last season. Not likely to be a full time starter, but should find spots to help improve the defense.
Round 5, Pick 146 SEAN HICKEY/T/G/SYRACUSE/6’5/309 GBN Rank: 146
A quality starting OT at the college level, who may be most effective inside at OG as a pro. He’s a good athlete, but his fairly short arms may cause some problems with speed rushers at the next level. The biggest need for the Falcons is inside replacing BLALOCK. HICKEY has a chance to earn a starting position inside in the NFL.
Round 6, Pick 184 ANGELO BLACKSON/DT/AUBURN/6’4/318 GBN Rank: 188
BLACKSON has been in a DL rotation thru college but may make a better pro player than he was as a collegian. He’s a large man with good functional strength. He may be able to play anywhere along the DL in the Falcons. he’s long and strong. Not likely to generate pass rush but strong at the point of attack. Very useful, valuable player in Round 6.
Round 7, Pick 225 GREG MANCZ/OC/TOLEDO/6’5/301 GBN Rank: 227
Torn a labrum at Shrine practices in January. Might have been a higher pick had he been healthy thru post season game action and the Combine. He may not be much help as a rookie, but he has a chance to start in time, or at the least backup 3-4 OL slots. Well worth the gamble that he will recover 100% from the injury.
Round 7, Pick 249 DARREN WALLER/WR/GA TECH/6’6/238 GBN Rank: 255
He’s available this late because his skills as a WR are as raw as they can be. Tech passes the ball just to mix things up a bit. He had only 22 receptions as a senior and has no finesse in his ball skills or route running. He is a willing and reasonably effective blocker. He is not to be confused with a TE in any sense of he word. He will need time to develop, but could see some red zone playing time right away.
Round 1, Pick 25 D.J. HUMPHRIES/OT/FLORIDA/6’5/307 GBN Rank: 28
After struggling with a group of undrafted guys at the OT positions the team gets the player to replace JORDAN GROSS as their LT to protect franchise QB CAM NEWTON. HUMPHRIES is a work in progress but is already better than anyone on their roster at his position. Is a good football player with a chance t be great. Needs to play stronger and get off the snap quicker to really excel. Upside is excellent so the coaches must raise him up.
Round 2, Pick 57 DUKE JOHNSON/RB/MIAMI/5’9/207 GBN Rank: 62
A short but stout runner who runs hard and powerful. But he also shows some wiggle and elusiveness. Has decent hands and turns upfield smoothly after completing the catch. Best of all he takes his work in pass pro seriously and pops defenders heading toward the pocket. Because he’s not as big as his running style it’s a good thing that the PANTHERS divide up their carries.
Round 3, Pick 89 SENQUEZ GOLSON/CB/5’9/178/OLE MISS GBN Rank: 92
A small guy who is quick as a hiccup and a real ball hawk. He’s confident in his ball skills and it’s reflected in his 16 career INT in 49 career games. He has a chance to play pro baseball as well. At the least he could be plugged in right away on the slot receiver. He is a willing tackler, but that tendency will need to be toned down a bit because of his lack of size. They need him in the game covering not injured from taking on big runners. Even if he doesn’t start he should be part of every coverage sub-package.
Round 4, Pick 124 JAMISON CROWDER/WR/PR/DUKE/5’9/185 GBN Rank: 130
Another short player, but his quickness can add a lot to their receiving corps which relies more on size/speed. Has very sure hands and scurries around the secondary once he secures the catch. He holds some school receiving records with his 283 catches, 3641 yards & 23 TD. His quickness and having played in a CUTCLIFFE offensive scheme will serve him well despite his lack of size. His size should not be an issue in the big picture.
Round 5, Pick 161 JAKE RYAN/OLB/MICHIGAN/6’3/238 GBN Rank: 162
A tough, smart player who can play both inside and outside. Overachieves and is highly productive. Seems to find the ball very quickly, and pursues all over the field.MIght be best suited to a 3-4 scheme, but will work his way into a starting role just the same. I look for him to battle down to the final pre-season game with A.J. KLEIN for a starting job. Will also add to Special Teams with his effort and toughness.
Round 5, Pick 169 NICK MARSHALL/QB/DB/AUBURN/6’2/207 GBN Rank: 170
He’s a great athlete and can be a meaningful roster contributor who might allow the team to only have to carry 2 full-time QB. He has lots to learn in coverage as a DB, but he was second on the team in tackles at the Senior Bowl as a CB. He also shows a live arm and great escapability as a QB.
Round 6, Pick 200 JAMES SAMPLE/SS/LOUISVILLE/6’2/209 GBN Rank: 206
This guy has emerged as a DB and has starting potential, sooner rather than later. He represents a significant talent upgrade. Had 4 INT last season in college, as well as being credited with 90 tackles. His 4.56/40 time at the Combine is elite for the Safety position. An ascending player whose best football is still ahead of him.
Round 6, Pick 213 MARK GLOWINSKI/G/T/WEST VIRGINIA/6’4/307 GBN Rank: 217
Started momentum rolling in his favor with a solid showing at the Shrine venue. Worked well at both the OT & OG slots that week. Has decent arm length at 33″ and is a natural knee bender. His best spot to battle for a starting roll is likely inside at OG. But his real value could come as a player who can handle 3-4 positions as a back-up on game day. His work in college says he will be a steady player who makes very few mistakes.
Round 7, Pick 242 TAVARIS BARNES/DE/CLEMSON/6’4/282 GBN Rank: 245
A player who just kept getting bigger every season while at Clemson. Started only 4 games in his collegiate career. Can likely play both inside and outside. Not a speed rusher, but can bring some pressure. Should get stronger as his body is developed. Has huge upside if coached properly. Adds some nice versatility to a strong DL unit for the Panthers.