CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The third round has ended, so let’s take a quick look at what each of the three NFC South teams did in this round.
Carolina Panthers. No. 65, Terrell McClain, defensive tackle, University of South Florida. This guy has a chance to step in and start immediately. Defensive tackle has been the weakest position on the defense for a couple of years. McClain is the kind of space eater that’s been missing since Kris Jenkins and Maake Kemoeatu departed.
“The opportunity is there,’’ McClain said. “I’m not going to back down from it. I’m going to be one of the hardest workers out there. I don’t want to have any regrets.
No. 97, Sione Fua, defensive tackle, Stanford. The Panthers opened and closed the round by taking a defensive tackle. Can’t argue with that because they need all the help they can get at the position. Like McClain, Fua can play nose tackle or the three-technique spot. Like McClain, he also will have a shot to get playing time right away.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers. No. 84, Mason Foster, linebacker, Washington. After getting defensive ends Adrian Clayborn and Da'Quan Bowers in the first two rounds, the Bucs stuck with their plan to improve their front seven. Last year’s linebacker corps of Barrett Ruud, Quincy Black and Geno Hayes really didn’t produce the number of big plays the team would have liked. Foster is more of an interior linebacker and this could be a sign that the Bucs are preparing to lose Ruud in free agency.
According to Scouts Inc.’s Matt Williamson, Foster is more of a “thumper’’ than Ruud. But he’s not a three-down player and is not a great fit dropping into coverage over the deep middle.
New Orleans Saints. No. 88, Johnny Patrick, defensive back, Louisville. An interesting pick by the Saints because they appear to be in great shape at cornerback. When healthy, Jabari Greer, Tracy Porter and Patrick Robinson can give the Saints as good a trio as any team in the league.
But general manager Mickey Loomis doesn’t always focus on glaring needs when he sees a player he likes. Patrick was close to being a shutdown corner in his last season at Louisville. He’s not known as a real physical guy, but he has the speed and athleticism to cover receivers and break up passes.
Atlanta Falcons. No. 91, Akeem Dent, linebacker, Georgia. This one was something of a surprise. Dent is purely an inside linebacker. He’s a two-down player who can play the run, but isn’t going to be on the field in passing situations. There wasn’t a glaring need for that kind of guy because the Falcons have a very solid middle linebacker in Curtis Lofton. There are greater needs on the outside. Sean Weatherspoon is set as one starter at outside linebacker. But the other spot is a question mark. Mike Peterson is aging and Stephen Nicholas probably will leave as a free agent.