Now that I’ve had a little time to reflect, I’m going to give each NFC South team a grade for the first round of the draft.
Atlanta Falcons: They addressed their biggest need by choosing cornerback Desmond Trufant. They traded up a bit to do it, but the cost wasn’t as high as if they had jumped up for Dee Milliner. I’m not sure the difference between Trufant and Milliner is all that great. Trufant is NFL-ready and he brings the same kind of swagger that Atlanta cornerback Asante Samuel and linebacker Sean Weatherspoon have. A little more swagger on the Atlanta defense can only help. Grade: B-plus.
Carolina Panthers: Defensive tackle Star Lotulelei fills a need that had been exploited far too long. The Panthers got him at No. 14. Lotulelei’s stock might have fallen a bit after a medical scare, but he has been medically cleared. Prior to the medical situation, Lotuelei was talked about as a potential first overall pick. The Panthers might have walked away with the best defensive tackle in the draft. Grade: A.
New Orleans Saints: They took safety Kenny Vaccaro. There’s no doubt the New Orleans secondary needed help. Vaccaro should be an impact player. I have no real problem with the pick, but I have to wonder why the Saints, who put a terrible defense on the field last season, went with a safety. Good defense starts with the front seven and I have to wonder if the Saints would have been better off going with a pass-rusher. Grade: B.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: They didn’t have a pick in the first round, but I still think the Bucs are a much better team than they were a week ago. They surrendered their first-round pick to the Jets as part of the trade for cornerback Darrelle Revis. Did you see anyone available at No. 13 that would have helped the Bucs more than Revis will? I didn’t. Grade: B.