I'll break down each division's draft performance over the next few days, as such, here's the NFC South.
1st Round - QB Jameis Winston, Florida State - confidence and greed led to too many interceptions in college but he’s one of the smartest QB I’ve seen and one that had the entire offense at his disposal at FSU. Bucs get the more developed of two QBs in the first round.
Head scratcher - OT Donovan Smith, Penn State - 2nd round - has first round everything but fourth round inconsistent play. I never got comfortable with his overall game and then at the Senior Bowl, I thought he struggled.
Diamond in the rough - OLB Kwon Alexander, LSU - 4th round - not sure how he fits as he’s a poor man’s Lavonte David and now he joins David. Regardless, the Bucs have to find a way to get the athletic former LSU Tiger on the field.
Keep an eye on - WR/KR Kaelin Clay, Utah - 6th round - as long as he hangs on to the ball after he crosses the goal line and not before, he could surprise.
A solid overall draft for Jason Licht, Lovie Smith and the Bucs, but still not sure who’s going to get to the QB from the edge. However, let’s be clear, the success of this draft rests in Winston’s hands and capable arm (and off the field maturity)
1st round - DE/OLB Vic Beasley, Clemson - The Falcons had fewer sacks than Texans star DE JJ Watt did last year so getting a productive sack artist was a must. Beasley’s fit in this defense, though, will be an interesting watch.
Head scratcher - RB Tevin Coleman, Indiana, 3rd round - it’s not as if I don’t like Coleman, in fact, he’s one of my favorites in this draft, but Atlanta had a speedy, quick back already and needed a more powerful, true between the tackles back. That’s not entirely Coleman’s game.
Diamond in the rough - DT Grady Jarrett, Clemson, 5th round - what a weekend it was for Jarrett. His house burned down on Friday night, then on Saturday he’s selected by his father’s former team (Jessie Tuggle, longtime Falcon legend). Not to mention, Jarrett’s dad announced the pick on Saturday afternoon at the team’s draft party. The Falcons found a true gem and Jarrett could impact the defense as a rookie.
Keep an eye on - WR Justin Hardy, East Carolina, 4th round - Harry Douglas is gone and Hardy has similar size and talents, so he could fit right in, playing slot receiver early.
After a rough couple of campaigns, GM Thomas Dimitroff needed a stellar draft weekend and if Beasley can consistently get to the QB, it’ll help in a major way.
1st round - OLB/S Shaq Thompson, Washington - Some people are incredulous to this pick but I think he’s going to be a chess piece the likes we’ll see more of in future drafts. More so than most, I like this pick for Carolina.
Head scratcher - WR Devin Funchess, Michigan, 2nd round - Funchess was often compared to current Panther Kelvin Benjamin throughout the draft process. I don’t have too much problem with Funchess or the philosophy behind having two small forwards at receiver, but passing on OL at this point until the fourth round might haunt GM David Gettleman
Diamond in the rough - RB Cameron Artis-Payne, Auburn, 5th round - LOVE this guy and he’ll have opportunity to get involved in the offense perhaps early in this career.
Keep an eye on - Thompson in sub-package alignments - I can’t wait to see how DC Sean McDermott utilizes Thompson in nickel and dime and most importantly, where he plays him.
Thompson is a boom or bust pick for Gettleman, pure and simple. Quite frankly, I see more “boom/bust” picks for the Panthers in this draft as for any NFL team. If most go boom, it’ll be a draft worth remembering. But, if it goes the other way, there’ll be some hot seats in Carolina.
1st round - LT Andrus Peat, Stanford - I really wanted to love Peat, but I just didn’t. I think he can have success but he’ll struggle early on and it can’t erode his confidence. Even though he played at Stanford, I thought he was lacking a bit of a nasty streak. Good player, but there were other, more athletic tackles drafted later that were better overall prospects.
1st round - ILB Stephone Anthony, Clemson - I remember he lost his job at some point in the 2013 season, vowed to get it back, did and dominated for the rest of his time at Clemson. He’s going to quietly do his work in New Orleans and have a solid career. I like this for New Orleans, probably more so than Peat at No. 13.
Head scratcher - QB Garrett Grayson, Colorado State, 3rd round - Just not my flavor at all and I’d have taken Bryce Petty every day and twice on Sunday. Don’t get what they saw.
Diamond in the rough - OLB Davis Tull, UT-Chattanooga, 5th round - DC Rob Ryan will love the athleticism and relentlessness. Love it.
Keep an eye on - DE Tyeler Davison, Fresno State, 5th round - The former wrestler wins with leverage and didn’t get a ton of publicity playing out on the west coast. Don’t be surprised if he makes it into the DE rotation early in his rookie campaign.
Six of the team’s eight picks were on the defensive side of the ball and a number of those have to hit for this team to take steps forward. I didn’t care much for the Peat pick at No. 13, but he’ll be fine. But, Anthony, PJ Williams, Hau’oli Kikaha, Davison, Damian Swann and Tull must be a part of the team’s future. Must.