NFC South: Bucs upgrade talent; Panthers score with late picks

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NFL.com analyst Bucky Brooks is handing out grades for each team following the 2010 NFL Draft. Check back daily as he breaks down each team, division by division.

Buccaneers' draft picks
Rd
Sel. #
Player
Pos.
School
1
3
DT
Oklahoma
2
35
DT
UCLA
2
39
WR
Illinois
3
67
CB
Vanderbilt
4
101
WR
Syracuse
6
172
P
Virginia Tech
7
210
LB
Virginia Tech
7
217
LB
Florida State
7
253
DE
Stanford
» Buccaneers' pick-by-pick analysis

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: B+

The Buccaneers needed to hit it out of the park during this draft due to their host of needs. By all accounts, the team fared well in filling voids on its roster. The team landed two starters along the defensive line in Gerald McCoy and Brian Price, and may have added a pair of starters at wide receiver with the selections of Arrelious Benn and Mike Williams. Throw in a trio of solid special teamers (Brent Bowden, Cody Grimm and Dekoda Watson), and the Bucs have significantly upgraded their roster.

Key picks:

Round 1 (3rd overall): Gerald McCoy, DT, Oklahoma
McCoy is a disruptive force with the quickest first step of any defensive tackle in recent history. His ability to create instant penetration with his explosive "get off" makes him the ideal fit in the Tampa 2 scheme.

» Video: Buccaneers select McCoy | McCoy's combine workout | Meet McCoy

Round 2 (35th overall): Brian Price, DT, UCLA
As a rugged interior defender with exceptional quickness, Price gives Tampa Bay an athletic nose tackle to pair with McCoy on the inside. When the Bucs were enjoying their stellar defensive run during the early part of the 2000s, Warren Sapp teamed with Anthony McFarland to control the line of scrimmage. With McCoy and Price on board, Tampa Bay is looking to recapture its defensive swagger by fortifying the interior.

» Video: Price's combine workout | Meet Price

Round 2 (39th overall): Arrelious Benn, WR, Illinois
Benn is an exceptional runner after the catch, and his outstanding size gives Josh Freeman a big target over the middle of the field. The Bucs needed to add playmakers to their offense, and Benn has the skills to play a major role in their revamped attack.

» Video: Benn's combine workout | Meet Benn

Panthers' draft picks
Rd
Sel. #
Player
Pos.
School
2
48
QB
Notre Dame
3
78
WR
LSU
3
89
QB
Appalachian State
4
124
LB
South Carolina
6
175
DE
Mississippi
6
198
WR
Baylor
6
202
DB
Texas A&M
6
204
QB
Cincinnati
7
223
DB
Utah
7
249
DB
Connecticut
» Panthers' pick-by-pick analysis

Carolina Panthers: B

The Panthers were without a first-round pick after trading it away last season for Everette Brown, so they had to patiently wait for a top player to fall to them in the second round. Unexpectedly, the team landed a potential franchise quarterback in Jimmy Clausen after the top-10 talent fell out of the first round. In the subsequent rounds, the team added much-needed depth to their defensive line and receiving corps. While some would categorize Armanti Edwards as a reach in the third round, his ability to bring an explosive element as a receiver/returner prompted the team to move up to get him. The Panthers were expected to struggle adding talent due to a lack of picks, but the overall quality of their draft haul is worthy of solid marks across the board.

Key picks:

Round 2 (48th overall): Jimmy Clausen, QB, Notre Dame
Clausen was expected to come off the boards in the early part of the first round, but questions about his leadership skills and personality led to a dramatic slide down the charts. Although the free fall has surely dampened Clausen's spirits, the opportunity to go to a franchise without an established starter could lead to early playing time, if he performs to his potential during the preseason.

» Video: Panthers select Clausen | Meet Clausen

Round 3 (78th overall): Brandon LaFell, WR, LSU
Although he suffered through a disappointing senior season, LaFell has shown outstanding promise in the past, and could blossom into a credible weapon, if he plays to his potential.

» Video: LaFell's combine workout | Meet LaFell

Round 4 (124th overall): Eric Norwood, LB, South Carolina
Although he isn't an explosive athlete, Norwood has outstanding instincts and shows good rush skills off the edge. With the Panthers lacking players capable of getting to the passer, Norwood could be a key contributor as a situational rusher.

» Video: Norwood's combine workout | Meet Norwood

Falcons' draft picks
Rd
Sel. #
Player
Pos.
School
1
19
LB
Missouri
3
83
DT
Kentucky
3
98
G
Alabama
4
117
G
UNLV
5
135
CB
Oklahoma
5
165
WR
Kansas
6
171
S
Montana
» Falcons' pick-by-pick analysis

Atlanta Falcons: C+

The Falcons wanted to upgrade the speed and athleticism of their team at a few key areas, but fell short of their intentions. While Sean Weatherspoon adds a dynamic playmaker to their linebacker corps, the team was unable to add a pass rusher to alleviate some of the pressure on John Abraham. The Falcons landed a quality cover man in Dominique Franks in the fifth round, and he could play a pivotal role as a sub-defender in their dime packages. Overall, the team added a few talented players, but it still enters the summer with a some holes to address.

Key picks:

Round 1 (19th overall): Sean Weatherspoon, LB, Missouri
This loquacious playmaker has exceptional speed, and has the potential to be an impact player as a weakside linebacker. Given the importance of the Will in Tampa 2 schemes, Weatherspoon is poised to play a pivotal role as a rookie.

» Video: Falcons select Weatherspoon | Weatherspoon's combine workout | Meet Weatherspoon

Round 3 (83rd overall): Mike Johnson, G, Alabama
Johnson lacks exceptional size, but his toughness and relentless motor allow him to compete in a short area. While he doesn't upgrade the Falcons, he should be a solid backup for the team in his first season.

» Video: Meet Johnson

Round 5 (135th overall): Dominique Franks, CB, Oklahoma
Franks has good ball skills and awareness, and is adept at playing in zone coverage. Given the Falcons' woes against the pass in 2009, Franks could emerge as a contributor in the team's nickel or dime packages.

» Video: Frank's combine workout | Meet Franks

Saints' draft picks
Rd
Sel. #
Player
Pos.
School
1
32
CB
Florida State
2
64
OT
Southern California
3
95
TE
Miami (Fla.)
4
123
DT
LSU
5
158
C
Boston College
7
239
KR
James Madison
» Saints' pick-by-pick analysis

New Orleans Saints: C+

The Saints were limited in their ability to address some of their areas of weakness due to their low draft position after winning the Super Bowl. However, the team still added some quality pieces to its roster with the selections of Patrick Robinson and Charles Brown. They give the Saints much-needed depth at key positions and the duo's presence gives the team the flexibility to reconfigure its personnel in some packages. Jimmy Graham is an athletic pass catcher who will undoubtedly benefit from serving an apprenticeship behind Jeremy Shockey. Although the Saints were unable to add a pass rusher or linebacker, their draft class is high on value and potential.

Key picks:

Round 1 (32nd overall): Patrick Robinson, CB, Florida State
Although New Orleans took Malcolm Jenkins with its first-round pick a season ago, the addition of Robinson gives the team the flexibility to move Jenkins to free safety or create a series of exotic nickel packages to get its athletic corners on the field. Regardless, the Saints have clearly improved their depth and talent in the back end, and that ensures they will remain among the best at creating takeaways in 2010.

» Video: Saints select Robinson | Robinson's combine workout | Meet Robinson

Round 2 (64th overall): Charles Brown, OT, Southern California
With Jammal Brown reportedly on the trading block, Brown gives the team a young developmental prospect to groom for a bigger role in a year or two.

» Video: Brown's combine workout | Meet Brown

Round 5 (158th overall): Matt Tennant, C, Boston College
Tennant possesses a nice blend of size and athleticism. He displays impressive initial quickness and agility to reach his blocks at the second level and is a real technician with great field awareness.

» Video: Tennant's combine workout | Tennant is a draft gem


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