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Team: Atlanta Falcons

1st Round – Julio Jones, WR, Alabama
3rd Round – Akeem Dent, LB, Georgia
5th Round – Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Oregon State
6th Round – Matt Bosher, K, Miami
7th Round – Andrew Jackson, OL, Fresno State
7th Round – Cliff Mathews, DE, South Carolina

The Falcons made the biggest splash this draft season by jumping all the way up to 6 to get a hold of Julio Jones. Obviously this was a team that felt that what held them back was someone helping Roddy White.  Julio has immense talent, and has been talked about as being elite since he was recruited out of high school, but the wealth of picks might be worth more (as one analyst put it, Brandon Marshall went for two 2nd round picks, is there any receiver worth two number ones + more). They could’ve gotten a hold of a receiver at the back end and picked up some more pieces in the 2nd. Kyle Rudolph certainly was on the table at the bottom of round one as the heir to Tony Gonzalez. Dent and Rodgers are nice depth pickups, and Rodgers has a good upside to him that could see him getting significant carries. They didn’t really address their line, which has been susceptible at times. Their first and foremost priority ought to be protecting Matt Ryan so he can deliver the ball to his weapons.

Draft Grade: B

Team: New Orleans Saints

1st Round – Cameron Jordan, DE, California
1st Round – Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama
3rd Round – Martez Wilson, LB, Illinois
3rd Round – Johnny Patrick, DB, Louisville
7th Round – Greg Romeus, DL, Pittsburgh
7th Round – Nate Bussey, LB, Illinois

The Saints were busy but only in a couple of rounds. Cameron Jordan was a great find at 24 and should thrive in Gregg Williams’ scheme. I disagree with the Saints moving up to get Ingram. They had enough at running back, and the draft had enough, that they could’ve picked up equal value for them later and kept their 1st next year. The Patriots find ways to get it done and do so once again via the Saints (a Raiders blogger tweeted “Stop giving the Patriots 1st round picks!” which made me chuckle seeing as they gave them one this year). Martez Wilson was a great pickup in the 3rd to slide next to Vilma and keep their linebacker corp solid. Patrick and Romeus have potential to see some playing time, and Romeus was a 1st round talent guy without injuries so he could be a great late round steal. If they’d picked up Mikel LeShore in the 2nd this would be an A, but because they lost some big picks for next year I’ll knock them down a bit

Draft Grade: B+

Team: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

1st Round – Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa
2nd Round – Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson
3rd Round – Mason Foster, LB, Washington
4th Round – Luke Stocker, TE, Tennessee
5th Round – Ahmad Black, S, Florida
6th Round – Allen Bradford, RB, USC
7th Round – Anthony Gaitor, DB, FIU
7th Round – Daniel Hardy, TE, Idaho

This is maybe the best selection of the draft. This is the 2nd time the Bucs have double picked on the defensive line, so they should be set there, and it’s the most important position for a Cover 2 scheme because all the pressure comes from their front 4. Furthermore, they didn’t reach for anyone. Clayborn is the closest because there are concerns about his Erb’s Palsy, but he has first round talent. Bowers is a risk but they got great value in the 2nd. Mason Foster is  a great linebacker that can play inside or outside. Stocker is a great in-line blocker for their running game, and Black will compete for a starters spot. Top to bottom this draft addressed needs and filled holes, without big reaches. Excellent job done in Tampa Bay.

Draft Grade: A

Team: Carolina Panthers

1st Round – Cameron Newton, QB, Auburn
3rd Round – Terrell McClain, DT, USF
3rd Round – Sione Fua
4th Round – Brandon Hogan, DB, WVU
5th Round – Kealoha Pilares, WR, Hawaii
6th Round – Lawrence Wilson, LB, UCONN
6th Round – Zachary Williams, OL, Wash St.
7th Round – Lee Ziemba, OL, Auburn

The Panthers did some good things and some concerning things. I understand why they went with Cam Newton, but I’m personally not a believer of forcing picks. I think Patrick Peterson, Marcel Dareus, and A.J. Green would’ve been better picks, even if they’re not “worth” the number 1 overall. It could pan out and Newton could become an elite quarterback and I certainly hope he does, but I worry about him for a lot of reason (one year starter, always worked with elite talent, championship winning QBs tend to not fair well at the NFL level, etc etc). I like their next two picks, both in the 3rd round because they so botched last years draft) McClain and Fua should be a nice 1 2 punch on the inside, I’m even saying Fua could be on the all rookie team next year because I think he’s underrated as a DT. Pilares is a nice pickup and I like snagging Ziemba for some familiarity for Cam. They didn’t pickup a top flight defensive end, failed to find an elite WR to replace Steve Smith, and frankly don’t have much for Cam to work with.

Draft Grade: B-