NFL Draft Grades: NFC South
With the 2021 NFL Draft officially complete, theScore's NFL editors hand out their initial grades for how teams fared.
There's no denying the Falcons got two potentially great players in Pitts and Grant, but the rest of their draft leaves much to be desired. The Falcons are committed to Matt Ryan and didn't seem to do a whole lot to help him. Mayfield might have to shift to guard, and he tested poorly athletically, making him a prime boom-or-bust guy. Atlanta also ignored the running back position, which seems like a misstep, especially for a team coached by Arthur Smith.
The Panthers stocked up, adding proven players with sneaky upside throughout the draft. Horn might have been a surprise as the first cornerback taken but he's got the potential to match his billing in a few years. Marshall also presents tremendous value in what was a loaded receiver class, while Christensen and Tremble are serious sleepers. Carolina utilized a sound strategy: double down on positions of need to ensure greater probability of finding a talented player. For a team looking to re-establish itself, this draft feels like a step in the right direction.
New Orleans Saints
After a rough offseason full of salary-cap casualties, the Saints needed to hit on more than a few draft picks. However, the general consensus is that New Orleans underachieved. Turner fills a position of need but there were arguably better edge rushers still available. Taking Adebo, a player who struggled with consistency in college, also seems risky, especially if he's tasked with being a Day 1 starter. Lastly, the Book pick is a major head-scratcher, as there were more important priorities than a developmental passer. The Saints entered the 2021 offseason walking a tightrope as they try to remain in championship contention, and this draft class might do more harm than good.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Super Bowl champions added to a fearful pass rush with Tryon, but there isn't much else to get excited about. Trask is a weak-armed quarterback and a poor fit for a Bruce Arians offense that relies heavily on a vertical passing game. Additionally, if the Florida product develops as hoped, the Buccaneers may not be able to maximize his value due to Tom Brady's longevity - at this point, no one knows when the legendary passer will decide to retire. Overall, it's tough to knock Tampa Bay and its championship roster, but grabbing a few more high-ceiling prospects would have helped this class.
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