After every NFL draft, sports journalists tend to give draft grades, dive into the analytics of each draft pick, and sometimes make season predictions based on draft selections alone. But at the end of the day, each team goes into the draft with an objective in mind. These objectives range from team improvement to adding depth or perhaps replacing a star player.
When all is said and done each team has achieved some type of goal or objective once the seven rounds have concluded. Here is what each NFC South team accomplished with their selections in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Objective Achieved: Better protection for Matt Ryan
The Falcons' Pro Bowl signal-caller was sacked 42 times in 2018, the second most of his career. This came after only taking 24 sacks the year before. So adding pieces to the offensive line was in order and they got some pretty good ones in Boston College guard Christopher Lindstrom (14th overall), and Washington tackle Kaleb Mcgary (31st). Together both men played on lines that paved the way for a combined 8,544 total yards of offense and kept their quarterbacks upright for the most part. Once they begin their NFL careers they’ll have the tall task of taking on the NFC South six times a year which is home to some of the top defensive lines in the league.
Objective Achieved: Improved pass rush and relief for Cam Newton
The injuries for the 2011 No. 1 overall pick have been piling up in recent years. So the Panthers drafted a capable backup for Newton when they used their third-round selection (100th overall) on West Virginia quarterback Will Grier. After starting his college career at Florida, Grier wound up at West Virginia where he threw for 7,354 yards and 71 touchdowns in just two seasons. The Charlotte native has a big arm and could provide ample production if called upon to relieve Newton. The Panthers also bolstered a pass rush that had been slightly lagging by using their first- and fourth-round picks on defensive ends Brian Burns (Florida State) and Christian Miller (Alabama), respectively.
New Orleans Saints
Objective Achieved: Another target for Drew Brees
While the Saints also took care of their defensive needs in this draft, I found it interesting that they added another pass catcher for Brees, the ageless wonder, to have at his disposal. And they picked a pretty good one with Notre Dame tight end Alize Mack (7th round, 231st overall). Mack caught 68 passes for 716 yards and four touchdowns over three seasons in South Bend, and at 6-foot-5 he gives Brees a target that can tower over most defenders.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Objective Achieved: New blood on defense
While the Bucs’ defensive teams of the late '90s and early 2000s are just a memory now, new head coach Bruce Arians is looking to create the next generation of great Tampa Bay defenders. The hope is that the team has found multiple building blocks in this year's draft class, which features LSU linebacker Devin White, Central Michigan cornerback Sean Bunting, Auburn corner Jamel Dean, Kentucky safety Mike Edwards, Iowa defensive end Anthony Nelson, and Missouri defensive tackle Terry Beckner Jr.
— Gabe Salgado is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. He's also written for NBC, Fox, The Sporting News, The Sports Journal, The Undefeated and Complex. He's a co-host of The Rewind Sports: 60. Follow him on Twitter @GabeSalgado82.
(Top photo courtesy of www.buccaneers.com)