NFL Draft 2015: Complete NFC South 1st Round Grades


The first round of the 2015 NFL Draft is in the books, and you know by now the Atlanta Falcons selected Vic Beasley. Beasley is a perfect fit in Atlanta, but how did the other NFC South teams fare?

Tampa Bay needed a face to their franchise, and they may have found him in Jameis Winston. New Orleans needed to bolster their defense, and Carolina had a lot of needs too.

Did each team have a strong day one? Or were there any mistakes?

Here are my first round grades for each team in the NFC South:

Atlanta Falcons — A+
Drafted OLB Vic Beasley with the No. 8 pick 

Apr 30, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Vic Beasley (Clemson) poses for a photo after being selected as the number eighth overall pick to the Atlanta Falcons in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

I love this pick, simply love it. I wrote before the draft that the Falcons should trade up for Beasley if necessary.

Well, it wasn’t necessary to trade as he fell straight to their laps. Atlanta desperately needed a dominant pass rusher, and Beasley is the best pure pass rusher this draft had to offer.

To make the pick and not need to give away any extra picks in a trade was the dream scenario, and it panned out perfectly.

Dan Quinn will be delighted, and the Falcons can turn to other needs on day two.

Jan 1, 2015; Pasadena, CA, USA; Florida State Seminoles quarterback Jameis Winston (5) runs with the ball during the first half of the 2015 Rose Bowl college football game against the Oregon Ducks at Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Tampa Bay Buccaneers — A
Selected QB Jameis Winston with the No. 1 pick 

Nobody in the world saw this pick coming, right?

Or maybe they did. Even so, this makes perfect sense for Tampa Bay.

The Buccaneers are crying out for a franchise quarterback, and Jameis Winston has the potential to become the man.

He is a talented prospect who has the tools to succeed after some time to develop.

I’m not expecting him to suddenly turn the Bucs into a Super Bowl team, but they have taken a foot in the right direction, and will be hoping they can now push on in the next few years.

The offense looks a whole lot stronger now especially after last year’s pick of Mike Evans, and this pick easily gets an ‘A’ grade.

New Orleans Saints — C
Selected OT Andrus Peat with the No. 13 pick; selected ILB Stephone Anthony with the No. 31 pick 

Apr 30, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Andrus Peat (Stanford) poses for a photo after being selected as the number 13th overall pick to the New Orleans Saints in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Maybe this grade is a little harsh, and it’s not so much on what they did do, it’s more about what they didn’t do.

The Saints’ defense ranked 31st overall in 2014, and they could have addressed the unit much better than they did.

I’m willing to accept that Andrus Peat is a good pick, adds value and will help their offensive line, but they passed on defensive ends Alvin Dupree and Arik Armstead, as well as cornerback Kevin Johnson at No. 13.

Either three of them would have been able to help the defense from day one.

At No. 31, linebacker Stephone Anthony is a good addition, but some projected him to go in the second round.

New Orleans could have landed Malcom Brown, Eddie Goldman or even Randy Gregory with this pick.

Two good selections, but they could have done much better.

Jan 2, 2015; Tempe, AZ, USA; Washington Huskies linebacker Shaq Thompson (7) against the Oklahoma State Cowboys in the 2015 Cactus Bowl at Sun Devil Stadium. Oklahoma State defeated Washington 30-22. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Carolina Panthers — B
Selected OLB Shaq Thompson with the No. 25 pick

This is an intriguing pick for sure. Shaq Thompson is a versatile player.

He can play at linebacker, but could be used as a strong safety for the Panthers. He can help against the run and pass regardless of where he plays.

It will be interesting to see what the plans are with Thompson moving forward, but he has the potential to be a great first round pick for Carolina.

Right now, I’m giving them  a B grade for the pick.

Looking back the first day of the draft, it’s clear that the Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers are winners, which you would certainly expect when picking in the top ten.

The New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers’ selections are a little unclear, but the potential is certainly there.

How will day two unfold? It’s going to be interesting to find out.

Next: 10 second-round options for Atlanta Falcons

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