Let’s journey down south and take a look at two teams in the NFC South. This double dip will cover the two teams I see at the top of the division in the Saints and Falcons.
SAINTS 8 Picks
Round 1, Pick 27 COURTLAND SUTTON WR SMU 6’033/218 What the Saints really want/need here is a big time receiving threat for their TE group. But there really aren’t any slam dunk 1st Round TE this year. So take the next best thing, a big WR. This might look like a luxury pick at first, but not so fast my friends. Willie Snead is gone and VFA acquisition Cam Meredith is coming off a serious leg injury. It should also be noted that Ted Ginn is headed into his mid-thirties. So the big guy with soft hands and and big play potential joins the mix. Uses his body to shield the ball and will win most contested balls. Gotta give BREES targets. Dan and the Lads over at Ourlads had SUTTON rated as the 4th most athletic of 45 WR at the Combine.
Round 3, Pick 91 MIKE WHITE QB WESTERN KENTUCKY 6’045/224 So everyone who thinks TOM SAVAGE is the guy to replace BREES any time soon raise your hand. Those of you who raised your hand please leave the room cause you won’t like this pick. WHITE is a decent athlete, with an above average arm and football smarts. He clocked 55 mph throwing at the Combine. Here is the amazing stat… under a new coaching staff that wanted more emphasis on the running game White completed 65.7% of his throws for over 4,000-yards and 26 TD. He was a South squad QB in the Senior Bowl and might have won the game MVP award if he had done his work in the 4th instead of 1st quarter. Not a need for this year’s Super Bowl run but he just might be a smart projection going forward.
Round 4, Pick 127 R.J. McINTOSH DT MIAMI (F) 6’044/286 2-year starter for the Hurricanes who combines decent size/bulk with good athleticism. His 5.03/40 time at the Combine confirmed his quicks out of the blocks and ball pursuit speed. His 33 7/8″ arm length should be a big help in coaching him up to shed blockers better against the run game. Should provide some positive pocket pressure up the middle. Still has potential to grow his skill set. Will bolster their DL rotation.
Round 5, Pick 147 IAN THOMAS TE INDIANA 6’035/259 The upside for this hard working athlete makes this pick worth the wait. He’s an ex-basketball star. Does a really solid job in finding and tracking the ball. Has shown flashes of one-handed snags with his 10″ hands. Also looks as though the potential is there to improve as a blocker. He ain’t no Jimmy Graham, but looks to have considerable upside if coached up patiently.
Round 5, Pick 164 JEREMY REAVES S SOUTH ALABAMA 5’105/204 If you watched the Senior Bowl then you saw REAVES making plays all over the field and winning the Defensive MVP award. Has played almost every slot in the secondary during his USA career. His 4.52/40 Combine time tells you he can fly all over the field. The biggest caveat to his numbers is small hands that measured only 7 3/4″. But his stats tell you he is productive with 104 tackles, 7 TFL, 1.5 sacks, 1 QBH, 3 FF, 8 PBU, 3 INT. He should also be a very effective Special Teamer especially on coverage units. Good depth pick.
Round 6, Pick 189 TONY BROWN CB ALABAMA 5’117/199 Im today’s NFL a team can never have too many DB, especially one coached by NICK SABAN at ‘Bama. BROWN has nice size, and excellent speed like the his 4.35/40 at the Combine. Very physical in his play, which will fit nicely in press-cover. Important member of the Tide’s Special Teams units. Certainly a value Pick this late. Has some off-field issues in his past.
Round 6, Pick 201 TANNER CAREW LS OREGON 6’012/243 Nobody gets too excited about a LS unless yours is snapping the ball over people’s heads. CAREW is arguably the best snapper coming out of college this year. Not only are his snaps accurate but he also has a knack for getting downfield and downing his own punts, which he did at least 3 times during the Senior Bowl game. For what it’s worth he’s also a Rubix Cube wizard.
Round 7, Pick 245 GREG SENAT OT WAGNER 6’062/302 Another former hoopster who is still learning the game of football. Also played LaCrosse in HS. Will need several years hidden on the Practice Squad or elsewhere, but could be worth the wait. He looks even longer than his 6’6″ body. Has 9 7/8″ hands and 34 7/8″ long arms. He also has an impressive wingspan that was measured at 84 1/2″. Was in Florida for the Shrine Game and did some nice work, holding up well overall against the big time boys. A project with perhaps a huge upside.
The Draft doesn’t always fall in such a way to fill a team’s biggest needs. But being patient, not reaching just to fill a spot and good coaching/development can pay off long term. I think the picks above can upgrade the Saints roster for now, and in the future.
FALCONS 7 Picks
Round 1, Pick 26 D.J. MOORE WR MARYLAND 6’0/210 Clearly the Falcons have great wideouts in their game-starters, but not much depth right now. MOORE should solve that and could be a very good partner for big guys SANU/JULIO. Moore excelled in 2017 despite having to catch balls from 4 different QB, none of whom is likely ever to be in an NFL Training Camp. How he caught 80 balls for over 1,000 yards is still a mystery. His 4.45/40-time is solid though not speedster class. But his 9″, strong hands don’t miss many throws. He’s a strong, run-after-catch player who makes a lot of folks miss out in the open field. Built like a RB. Good field vision and tracks throws well. Will need to tighten up his route running for a QB like MATT RYAN to trust his routes. Should make a nice return man on punts and/or kick-offs. Likely to fill the slot role for the Falcons.
Round 2, Pick 58 JEROME BAKER LB OHIO STATE 6’111/229 Reminds me a lot of another ex-Buckeye in Darron Lee, who has developed nicely for the JETS. BAKER is getting away right now on athletic ability and his 4.54/40 speed. Has all the tools to be a solid player outside in space. Has big hands at 10 3/8″, which might lead to some INT in time. Basically needs to learn the nuances of an NFL LB. Very high upside and will excel on Special Teams right away. Once he figures out what he needs to do at the NFL level he surely has the talent and FBI to play full-time. For now he’ll give the team some much needed LB depth.
Round 3, Pick 90 DaSHAWN HAND DL ALABAMA 6’035/294 The team finds itself very thin on the DL with VFA departures of both POE and CLAYBORN. Luckily HAND is on the board for them and even though he never stepped up as “the man” along the Crimson Tide DL he was dependable and versatile enough to fill multiple roles. He has the size and length to handle both the run and pass. His 9 3/4″ hands and 34 3/8″ arms should allow him to shed blockers better than he currently does. His HS wrestling background should also serve him well. To be honest I would rate his college career as that of an underachiever. But if Falcons coaches can unlike all the potential watch out!
Round 4, Pick 126 JORDAN AKINS TE UCF 6’3/249 A versatile athlete who is slightly over-aged because of playing pro baseball in the Astros minor league system. Is more of a receiving threat than a blocker, and is a nightmare match-up for S and LB. Watching him run patterns at the Senior Bowl he looked a lot faster to me than his estimated 40-time of 4.80. His 9 1/2″ hands and 33 1/2″ arms also provide his QB with some nice targets to throw to. At times watching him at Senior Bowl practices I thought he was a wideout for as deep and quick as he appeared in running his routes. Will make a nice 3rd and long target for RYAN, IMO.
Round 6, Pick 200 TROY APKE FS PENN STATE 6’012/200 Was one of the biggest athletic surprises of the Combine, starting with his 4.34/40-time. Also showed off with a 41″ vertical. He needs developmental work, but has the athleticism to earn playing time. He was one of Penn State’s best Special Teams coverage players with his size and speed combo. Has good deep secondary ball skills.
Round 7, Pick 244 JOHN FRANKLIN DE SF AUSTIN 6’037/283 A nice sized DE who shows some solid pass-rush ability and potential. His frame is lean and chiseled, having gained about 50 lbs. since leaving HS. Has 10″ hands and 32 7/8″ arms, with an 80″+ wingspan. Plays the run and the pass equally well. He will need a ton of work with their DL staff, but seems like a smart, willing student. I think he has starter potential down the line. His 2017 stats included 13.5 TFL, 3.5 sacks, 8 QBH.
Round 7, 256 DANIEL MARX RB STANFORD 6’020/254 It seems totally appropriate that the final pick of the Draft, Mr. Irrelevant, should be a FB. And this one is a good one from one of the FB U’s. MARX has decent speed for his size at 4.75. His hands are dependable as a receiver on dump throws. The Falcons list FB on their depth chart, but the names columns are empty. MARX should give them a nice boost for short yardage blocking to clear space for a RB, and will also play a few roles on Special Teams. A practical and useful pick to end the Draft.
The FALCONS will still need some depth from Day 4 and the URFA portion of the 2018 Draft.