For the AFC South, I had written up my division grade on Dynasty Nerds; please check it out here – rather than write it up again, I got the okay from the powers to share the link here.
For the NFC South, it was an interesting draft for the quartet of teams, and several made some massive upgrades. Overall, there are still a lot of questions about these teams, and I will address them in each section.
Let’s dig in, headin’ to the Dirty South!
1.8: Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
2.38: Matthew Bergeron, OL, Syracuse
3.75: Zach Harrison, DE, Ohio State
4.113: Clark Phillips III, CB, Utah
7.224: DeMarcco Hellams, S, Alabama
7.225: Jovaughn Gwyn, G, South Carolina
Adding the top offensive player in the draft, Robinson, was a massive upgrade to a team that ran the ball an NFL-leading 559 times in 2022. Robinson is a phenomenal talent and will get fed the ball a ton. Does it help the team win, though? They have an uninspiring second-year QB, Desmond Ridder, but some good pass-catching options in Drake London and Kyle Pitts. If Ridder can step up, we will have a different conversation. Bergeron is a great addition, a phenomenal run-blocking lineman who may have to play interior line initially.
The team added a bunch of good defensive players through free agency, and the draft didn’t bring in much help. Harrison had an elite recruiting profile when he entered college but never fully realized that potential. If he can add some bulk, a few more moves, and work on technique – Harrison could be a solid rotational pass-rusher. Phillips can also be a steady contributor in the secondary; he’s an intelligent corner with playmaking ability but isn’t the most fluid athlete.
Gaining Bijan was a massive upgrade, but the team had far more pressing needs, and Tyler Allgeier is a good stopgap back until they figured more out. Bergeron will be a steady starter, and there’s not much else here that I see as a viable starting option.
1.1: Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
2.39: Jonathan Mingo, WR, Ole Miss
3.80: DJ Johnson, DE, Oregon
4.114: Chandler Zavala, OG, NC State
5.145: Jammie Robinson, S, Florida State
The Panthers are in a tough spot, and taking Young was the move the franchise needed to do. I don’t care about his size; the kid is a baller. He’s a team leader, plays confidently, and can make the throws he needs to. As I have mentioned before, watch his game versus Tennessee in 2022 – it will answer any questions you have about his talent. The Panthers added Mingo to be Young’s top target. Mingo is a bigger receiver with toughness; he can run precise routes and gain yards after the catch. He lacks long speed and burst, but Mingo should be a steady WR1 for the Panthers.
On defense, the addition of DJ Johnson could end up being an interesting one. He’s a violent hitter and plays with power, exploding off the line, and can bullrush with speed. He’s a raw player but has enticing physical traits. Robinson is a player I loved in college, but he’s a bit limited by his athleticism. He’s a fierce downhill player and could be a special teams stud.
With limited picks, the Panthers did what they could, and adding a franchise QB gives the draft an A by itself. Mingo is a solid receiver who is in a great situation to put up good numbers as a rookie and then beyond. Johnson is a big question mark, but if he works out – they could get three quality starters from the class.
New Orleans Saints
1.29: Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson
2.40: Isaiah Foskey, DE, Notre Dame
3.71: Kendre Miller, RB, TCU
4.103: Nick Saldiveri, OT, Old Dominion
4.127: Jake Haener, QB, Fresno State
5.146: Jordan Howden, S, Minnesota
6.195: A.T. Perry, WR, Wake Forest
The Saints drafted almost all of my favorite players, and I love this class. They addressed their biggest needs, starting with pass rushing. Bresee is a player I would have selected in the top ten if I had a chance. He’s got phenomenal upside after a college career mired by injury and tragedy. Bresee needs to get on the field; he’s got great size and should be disruptive on day one with the potential to be special with some experience. Foskey is another dude that can get after QBs, and while he’s never going to be an All-Pro, he has the potential to be an impact EDGE rusher. He has a lot of range and motor but doesn’t have much bend and can’t set the edge effectively.
Miller is a back who can make an impact early in his career and eventually replace Alvin Kamara. Miller was my RB2 (I know I’m nuts). He runs with vision, patience, and has impressive contact balance. He will need to show he can catch passes to be a legit three-down back, but he did show a little while at TCU. Miller may get some play early with a possible looming suspension to Kamara.
It’s a later pick, but I really love Haener as a backup QB option. I think he could be one of the best backups in the league and a viable spot starter. He’s got moxie, leadership, and is one of the toughest SOBs you will find in the position. Perry in the sixth round is a bit of a steal – he was massively productive in college and could easily find his way to being a WR3 early in his career.
The Saints bolstered their pass rush and added a starting caliber running back with their first three picks. The addition of line depth, a backup QB, and a solid receiving option at value was the nice icing on the cake. The Saints did well, very well.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
1.19: Calijah Kancey, DT, Pittsburgh
2.48: Cody Mauch, OL, North Dakota State
3.82: Yaya Diaby, DE, Louisville
5.153: SirVocea Dennis, LB, Pittsburgh
5.171: Payne Durham, TE, Purdue
6.181: Josh Hayes, CB, Kansas State
6.191: Trey Palmer, WR, Nebraska
6.196: Jose Ramirez, DE, Eastern Michigan
I figured the Bucs would draft more help for the offense, but they went fairly defensive-heavy. Kancey is a nasty interior defensive lineman and will work really well next to Vita Vea. He’s quick as heck off the line and has the acceleration to create havoc if he gets a crease. Diaby was an odd pick to me, I don’t see him ever starting, but he has the potential to be a strong rotational player. He needs to develop a lot as far as his pass-rushing repertoire. Dennis can be a good depth linebacker; he’s got phenomenal instincts but doesn’t have the size or athleticism to start consistently. I actually like Ramirez as a pass-rusher more than Diaby, but Ramirez will be limited by his size and inability to contribute to rush defense.
Mauch is a tough lineman who might be more effective on the interior and gained a ton of value in the offseason process. He’s missing his two front teeth, plays with fire, and teammates will love him. Durham is a solid TE who could work his way into playing time, but Cade Otton will likely limit how much he sees the field. Palmer could find his way to the field due to his 4.33 speed. He’s raw but could benefit from being behind Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, two veteran receivers. I’m loving Palmer as a late stash in rookie drafts.
The Bucs made a few picks who will help immediately, as Kancey and Mauch could be day-one starters. There are some good picks who may provide depth, but I don’t see any guys in the class other than those two that will make a consistent impact.