Welcome to the NFC South 2019 NFL draft analysis. This is the 7th installment in our 8 part series. If you haven’t checked out all the previous action, make sure to get caught up with all the divisions.
14th pick (14th overall) – OG Chris Lindstrom, Boston College
The Falcons reached here to fill a desperate need. They are banking on Lindstrom to come in and be an immediate starter at guard. Lindstrom does have the intelligence and physical ability to do that.
However, reaching for need is never a sound process. Atlanta rushed to make Lindstrom the first interior offensive lineman off the board, when they could have moved down and gotten him or one of Garrett Bradbury and Elgton Jenkins later.
There is some value in selecting an immediate starter at a dire position of need. Protecting Matt Ryan is always a wise decision. Lindstrom himself is a fine prospect, but should have come off the board in the second round. If the Falcons were intent on staying here, Brian Burns should have been the selection.
31st pick (31st overall) – OT Kaleb McGary, Washington
Thomas Dimitroff clearly identified the offensive line as a critical need requiring urgent attention. Atlanta traded up in order to get back into the first round here. That trade saw the Falcons send picks 45 and 79 to the Rams for picks 31 and 203.
You’d think the math on this would be damning, but it actually isn’t too egregious. This trade resulted in Los Angeles profiting 3.8 points worth of draft capital according to the Chase Stuart draft chart. In essence, Atlanta surrendered the 128th pick of the draft in order to get back into the first round.
I’m not one for throwing away a fourth rounder to move up 14 spots. Eyeballing the trade I did think the numbers would work out worse for the Falcons, however. Even still, moving up 14 spots now to fall back 124 spots later is horrendous.
The pick itself is the same as Lindstrom. McGary should have gone in the late second, so this is a round too high. On the other hand, McGary does figure to have the ability to provide an immediate impact, and protecting Matt Ryan is wise.
All that said, the bottom line here is Atlanta traded up in order to reach on a position of need. Bad start for the Falcons. This also brings us back to the curious decision by the Vikings. Atlanta determined they needed an offensive tackle, yet took Lindstrom over Andre Dillard earlier in the round. Why take an inferior prospect at a less valuable position?
9th pick (111th overall) – CB Kendall Sheffield, Ohio State
Since the Falcons foolishly traded away both day two picks in order to reach on McGary, the team didn’t make another selection until round four. I think Sheffield should have gone in the fifth, but I have to imagine Atlanta fell in love with his physical traits. Dimitroff could have had any corner his heart desired back in round one, but opted for a guard instead.
33rd pick (135th overall) – DL John Cominsky, Charleston (WV)
Cominsky is very athletic for his size. At 286 pounds, Cominsky posted a 4.69 40 with a 1.67 10-yard split, to go along with a 33.5″ vertical, 116″ broad jump, and 7.03 3-cone. A better run defender than pass rusher, Cominsky has upside, but it would have made more sense for the Falcons to target a real edge rushers earlier in the draft.
14th pick (152nd overall) – RB Qadree Ollison, Pittsburgh
I just don’t see any value in the Falcons taking a running back here. Sure, Devonta Freeman battled a lot of injuries last year, but there are other options on the roster. Yes, Tevin Coleman left, but this round should be used for defensive depth. Atlanta lost Deion Jones and Keanu Neal for huge parts of the season last year and it crippled their defense. If your defense is that reliant on two players, you need to invest resources there, not at running back.
34th pick (172nd overall) – CB Jordan Willer, Washington
At least they’re throwing darts at the defense now.
30th pick (203rd overall) – WR Marcus Green, UL Monroe
This isn’t great. Investing in Matt Ryan’s protection is a good idea, but the Falcons did a poor job extracting value from their picks. Both Lindstrom and McGary deserved to go at least 20 picks lower than they did. Atlanta could have moved down and gotten Lindstrom or a similar prospect, and the team traded up to get McGary a round too high.
I think most of the Falcons’ 2018 issues can be attributed to a lack of defensive depth and poor offensive line play. This makes attacking the offensive line sensible, but not in this manner. Atlanta needed more bites at the apple than this, even if positive regression is headed their way.
16th pick (16th overall) – Edge Brian Burns, Florida State
This is just a good pick. Burns plays a premium position and fits the range here as he was a top 15 player. Burns is a productive pass rusher, as he racked up 24 sacks the past three seasons at Florida State. Much more impressive, however, is the fact he accumulated 69 pressures in 2018, the most of any Power-5 defender.
The cherry on top is that Burns lit up the combine, running a 4.53 40 with a 1.57 10-yard split, and posted a 36″ vertical, 129″ broad jump, and 7.01 3-cone, at 249 pounds.
5th pick (37th overall) – OT Greg Little, Ole Miss
The Panthers traded up into this position. Carolina sent the 47th and 77th picks to Seattle for pick 37. That trade saw Seattle profit 5.4 points worth of draft capital, the equivalent of the 98th pick of the draft. Throwing away your third rounder in order to move up 10 spots is just an atrocious idea.
At least they picked Greg Little, I guess. Carolina was so desperate to fill this massive need they were comfortable sacrificing their third rounder to do it. Cam Newton does need to be protected, and Little was undervalued as a prospect. While Little is not a mauler, he has good foot quickness to go along with the technical chops to be a good pass protector in the NFL. That type of prospect has late round one value.
36th pick (100th overall) – QB Will Grier, West Virginia
This is a great value. Grier has his supporters and detractors, and I think the truth is somewhere in the middle. He absolutely should have gone on day two, so to get him at the very end of round three is a good value. Taking a developmental quarterback every few years is just a prudent strategy. When Cam Newton is your starting quarterback, it makes more sense. And that isn’t a comment about Newton’s ability, it’s a comment about how the physical toll he has taken behind a terrible offensive line year after year after year will eventually catch up with you. Or, at least, one would have to imagine.
13th pick (115th overall) – Edge Christian Miller, Alabama
This is a good pick. Miller may be best suited as a situational rusher, but he is good at that one trait. He also has the length and physicality to provide more upside than just a nickel rusher. That said, Miller racked up 8.5 sacks on only 203 pass rushing snaps in 2018.
16th pick (154th overall) – RB Jordan Scarlett, Florida
I’m OK with this running back selection. That’s the nicest thing I can say about.
39th pick (212th overall) – OT Dennis Daley, South Carolina
23rd pick (237th overall) – WR Terry Godwin, Georgia
Carolina got a good value in the first round at one of the four premium positions. In fact, the Panthers spent their first four picks on players at one of the four premium positions. They even doubled up on edge rushers. In the sixth round, they just threw a dart at another offensive tackle. That’s what the sixth round is for.
The issue is the trade up in the second round. Throwing away a third round is just poor management. While the team may have loved Greg Little, the evidence is indisputable that teams are overconfident in their ability to draft. Between Little, Cody Ford, Dalton Risner, and Max Scharping, there are basically equal odds any of them pan out.
New Orleans Saints
16th pick (48th overall) – C Erik McCoy, Texas A&M
The Saints continue to mortgage their future in order to maximize the Drew Brees window. Their 2017 trade to go get Alvin Kamara has lead to some superstitious learning, which lead to the Marcus Davenport trade.
This year, in desperation to replace the retired Max Unger, New Orleans sent Miami picks 62, 202, and a 2020 second rounder for picks 48 and 116. If the Saints are again the NFC runner up in 2019, and that 2020 second rounder is the 62nd pick of the 2020 draft, the Dolphins will profit 3.2 points worth of draft capital, the equivalent of the 138th pick.
Yes, the Saints are going to wish they had that pick next year, just as you’d assume they wish they had their first rounder this year. I guess the plan is to continually sell off future picks until Brees retires, and then pay the piper then.
McCoy himself is a fine prospect that should be able to step in immediately as a starter.
3rd pick (105th overall) – S Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, Florida
This is a great value. Gardner-Johnson is a matchup weapon that should have comfortably gone on day two. He has slot ability to go along with deep range. He was fantastic in coverage in 2018, and leaves Florida with a 42.5 passer rating allowed in his coverage for his career. You get a passer rating of 39.6 if you throw the ball in the dirt.
4th pick (177th overall) – S Saquan Hampton, Rutgers
17th pick (231st overall) – TE Alize Mack, Notre Dame
Vontae Alize Mack No Matter What
30th pick (244th overall) – LB Kaden Elliss, Idaho
This is actually a good value as Ellis should have gone 50-60 picks higher.
Clearly, there isn’t much to talk about here. The Saints were short on draft capital due in part to the Davenport trade. New Orleans once again mortgaged it’s future to move up and address a dire need. Getting Gardner-Johnson is the fourth was great value.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
5th pick (5th overall) – LB Devin White, LSU
Sigh. Devin White is fine. He is a good player and a good prospect. I’m fairly confident he will translate successfully to the NFL.
But passing on Josh Allen for an off-ball linebacker is just lunacy. There is no reasonable defense for taking White over Allen. Allen plays one of the four premium positions, and at worst is an equal prospect to White (except he’s superior).
At least White is good in coverage?
7th pick (39th overall) – CB Sean Bunting, Central Michigan
I get the Bucs taking a corner, but I don’t get the Bucs taking Bunting here. This is a reach, and there were superior corner options available. I don’t understand taking him over Greedy Williams, David Long, Justin Layne, Julian Love, or Joejuan Williams. If Tampa was that intent on Bunting, why not trade down first?
30th pick (94th overall) – CB Jamel Dean, Auburn
In a good trade with the Rams, the Bucs picked up picks 94 and 99 in exchange for 70. They split one third rounder into two, and profited 3.5 points worth of draft capital in the process. Essentially, Tampa Bay created the 131st pick out of thin air.
There’s corners I prefer to Dean that were still available, but at this juncture I’m more willing to overlook that than at the top of the second round. Besides, Dean could have come off the board at the beginning of the third, so he is a good value here.
This is now the second year in a row the Bucs have spent two day two picks on cornerbacks, each year selecting a 6’1″ prospect from Auburn.
Dean can absolutely fly, evidenced by his 4.30 40. He also posted a 1.50 10-yard split, 41″ vertical, 130″ broad jump, and a 7.02 3-cone. In other words, Dean is a freak.
35th pick (99th overall) – S Mike Edwards, Kentucky
This is now the third consecutive draft the Bucs have used at least a fourth rounder on a safety. I have my issues with the pick itself, as I don’t believe Edwards was worth this selection. There were multiple safeties on the board that were better prospects, such as Gardner-Johnson, Amani Hooker, Deionte Thompson, and Marvell Tell.
I will say this though, I do respect how Tampa Bay has attacked the secondary the past three draft cycles. They continue to throw resources at the unit, knowing the best odds of getting it right are to be holding a bunch of lottery tickets.
5th pick (107th overall) – Edge Anthony Nelson, Iowa
Fantastic pick. Nelson should have come off the board in the middle of day two, so he is an excellent value here. Nelson is one of the more productive edge rushers the past two years in college football, accumulating 19 sacks since 2017. What Nelson lacks in straight line speed he makes up for in explosion and agility numbers, as he posted a 1.67 10-yard split, 35.5″ vertical, 118″ broad jump, and a 6.95 3-cone at 271 pounds. He has the size to shrink inside on obvious passing downs.
7th pick (145th overall) – K Matt Gay, Utah
If *any* team should know not to waste draft capital on a kicker, it’s the Bucs.
35th pick (208th overall) – WR Scott Miller, Bowling Green
1st pick (215th overall) – DT Terry Beckner Jr., Missouri
There is no rationale to taking White over Allen. With that out of the way, the Bucs reached big time on Bunting in the second, but at least he plays a premium position I guess. The team doubled down at corner after doing just that in 2018. I admire Tampa’s approach to the secondary, just constantly throwing resources at it. Mike Edwards was a reach as well, but secondary play is extremely important. They did engineer a nice trade down in the third.
Anthony Nelson is an excellent value in the fourth, while taking a kicker makes no sense for a 5 win team.