2015 NFL Draft Review: NFC South

Tampa Bay Buccaneers For the second straight year, the top of Tampa Bay’s draft has been strong. With the first pick in this year’s draft, the Bucs surprised no one with the selection of Jameis Winston. Winston was a worthy first overall pick on talent. but we all know there is some risk involved with this pick based on his off-field issues. Time will tell if Tampa Bay did the right thing. A huge area of need for the Bucs was the offensive line. With their two second round choices, the Bucs selected two offensive linemen. Donovan Smith is a huge left tackle, who back in January many “experts” were saying should have stayed in school. The following week at the Senior Bowl, Smith showed that he was ready to be an NFL starter. Many feel Smith will be better off at guard, but Tampa Bay has said he will remain at tackle. The other second round pick was Hobart lineman Ali Marpet. Hobart is a Division III school where Marpet dominated. He was the talk of the Senior Bowl, where he showed he could play with the big boys. He has the versatility of being able to play anywhere on the offensive line. He will most likely start out at guard. In the fourth round, the Bucs selected LSU linebacker Kwon Alexander. After watching tape, I felt Kwon would be best as a Will in the Tampa Bay scheme, but with that position already filled, Alexander will most likely start out at Sam. Receivers Kenny Bell and Kaelin Clay, as well as fullback Joey Iosefa are developmental types who may need a year in the practice squad unless they prove they can be strong special teams' performers. Atlanta Falcons I love the Falcons first pick. Clemson outside linebacker Vic Beasley is an outstanding edge pass rusher who will give Atlanta something they haven’t had in years. He still needs to improve his ability to defend the run, but with him now playing on his feet, I don’t see that as a problem. If it weren’t for multiple positive drug tests while at LSU, corner Jalen Collins would have been a first round pick. Tall and long corners are difficult to find, and Collins has very good overall cover skills. He should come in and start right away. Until he came up with a toe injury and couldn’t work out until mid-April, I had Tevin Coleman has one of the top running backs in the draft. At his pro day he ran a sub 4.4 which shows how explosive he could be. He ran for over 2000 yards behind a very average line at Indiana. Justin Hardy is an excellent yet under rated receiver. He lacks good top end speed but he is a very good route runner and catches everything thrown his way. He could be an ideal slot receiver for Atlanta. Getting nose tackle Grady Jarrett in the fifth round is a steal. While he lacks ideal height, he is a top competitor who can use his hands and make plays. He will get a lot of play time as a rookie. Tackle Jake Rodgers and defensive back Akeem King are developmental types who will be practice squad candidates. New Orleans Saints After the Saints traded tight end Jimmy Graham to Seattle, they stated they would use the draft to upgrade their defense. That’s not the way the draft started out, as they selected Stanford tackle Andrus Peat. I’m not criticizing the pick as I had Peat as the best tackle in the draft and he was too good a talent to pass up. With the pick they received from Seattle for Graham, the Saints took Clemson inside linebacker Stephone Anthony. This is a pick I really like, as Anthony has outstanding instincts and is very tough at the point of attack. While some experts felt this pick was a reach, I feel that Anthony will prove this to be an outstanding selection. Washington outside linebacker Hau’oli Kikaha may not be the fastest guy when he runs a forty, but all he does is sack the quarterback. He had 32 sacks over the last two seasons. In my opinion, he was one of the better edge rushers available and an ideal fit for the Saints defensive scheme. Quarterback Garrett Grayson will be Drew Brees eventual replacement. He landed in the right spot as he will be able to learn under Brees for a few seasons before he is ready to take control of the offense. Florida State corner P.J. Williams was a possible late first round talent who slid to the third round because of a DUI shortly before the draft. He should start as a rookie and play well. Outside linebacker Davis Tull from Tennessee-Chattanooga is a fifth round steal. He is a natural edge rusher with a high motor. He had 37 career sacks while dominating FCS competition. Tyeler Davison should be a solid rotational defensive tackle, while Damian Swan and Marcus Murphy are developmental types. Carolina Panthers General Manager Dave Gettleman took some heat from draft experts when he selected Washington linebacker Shaq Thompson in the first round. I’ll side with Gettleman here as Thompson is an excellent scheme fit for the Panthers. Shaq is a highly instinctive playmaker and that will carry over to the NFL. In sub-packages, the Panthers will be able to do a lot with Thompson. Devin Funchess can be a matchup nightmare if used correctly. He can play as a flexed tight end or as a big wide receiver. What he won’t do is give you much as a blocker. Oklahoma tackle Daryl Williams should be able to play right tackle or guard. He is a powerful run blocker and getting better as a pass blocker. He should start as a rookie. Playing at Texas State, linebacker Davis Mayo didn’t get much publicity but he is another highly instinctive and athletic linebacker who will have a role early. Auburn running back Cameron Artis-Payne is a strong inside pounder who will have a role as a rotational back. Follow Greg on Twitter @greggabe

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