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NFL Draft Review: Bucs skip QB, add offence in NFC South

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The Sports Network
5/13/2014 1:08:09 PM
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Atlanta Falcons

1 (6) - Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M; 2 (37) - Ra'Shede Hageman DT, Minnesota; 3 (68) - Dezmen Southward, FS, Wisconsin; 4 (103) - Devonta Freeman, RB, Florida State; 4 (139) - Prince Shembo, OLB, Notre Dame; 5 (147) - Ricardo Allen, CB, Purdue; 5 (168) - Marquis Spruill, ILB, Syracuse; 7 (253) - Yawin Smallwood, OLB, UConn; 7 (255) - Tyler Starr, OLB, South Dakota

Top Picks Analysis: The Falcons had visions of trading up for the No. 1 pick in the draft, South Carolina star pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney, but that was cost prohibitive so they stayed put at No. 6 and went with offensive tackle Jake Matthews, a safe pick at a need position.

Minnesota defensive tackle Ra'Shede Hageman is a boom-or-bust prospect with a very high ceiling as a player, while Wisconsin safety Dezmen Southward was another need pick and will be given every opportunity to replace the departed Thomas DeCoud as William Moore's running mate.

Best Value Pick: Fourth-round selection Prince Shembo of Notre Dame lacks the length to be an every down difference maker on the edge but he has the instincts and toughness to be a solid situational pass rusher for a team that is desperate for one.

Questionable Calls: Hageman flashes but has always lacked consistency on the college level. A move to the five-technique at the professional level could either accentuate his natural physical skills or turn him into a tweener with no real position.

Summary: Matthews is as safe as it gets at No. 6 overall and will certainly be a welcome addition for Matt Ryan but general manager Thomas Dimitroff really rolled the dice after the Texas A&M legacy.

FINAL GRADE: B

Undrafted rookie free agent signings: DT/FB Roosevelt Nix, Kent State; RB Jerome Smith, Syracuse; CB Tay Glover-Wright, Utah State; OL James Stone, Tennessee; WR Geraldo Boldewijn, Boise State; QB Jeff Matthews, Cornell; WR Bernard Reedy, Toledo; DE Jacques Smith, Tennessee; P Matt Yoklic, Pittsburgh; DL Nosa Eguae, Auburn; WR Freddie Martino, North Greenville; LB Brenden Daley, Hawaii; TE Jacob Pederson, Wisconsin; S Kimario McFadden, South Carolina; DE Walker May, Vanderbilt; DT Donte Rumph, Kentucky; S Javon Marshall, Vanderbilt; S Jestin Love, Central Arkansas; K Drew Basil, Ohio State FB Maurice Hagens, Miami; CB Devonta Glover-Wright, Utah State

Carolina Panthers

1 (28) - Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State; 2 (60) - Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri; 3 (92) Trai Turner, OG, LSU; 4 (128) - Tre Boston, SS, North Carolins; 5 (148) - Bene Benwikere, CB, San Jose State; 6 (204) - Tyler Gaffney, RB, Stanford

Top Picks Analysis: It's difficult to argue with David Gettleman's plan. The Panthers' GM needed help at wide receiver and jumped at the 6-foot-5 Kelvin Benjamin, a nice option at No. 28 overall. It remains to be seen if Benjamin has the suddenness to be anything more than an outside the numbers, ball-aware threat but either way the Florida State product filled a big need.

Mizzou defensive end Kony Ealy came in with a late-first-round grade by many so snaring in at No. 60 overall was great value. Meanwhile, LSU guard Trai Turner could compete for a starting job on a thin offensive line.

Best Value Pick: The Panthers have two superlative rushers on the edge in Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy but you don't pass up a talent like Ealy late in the second round.

Questionable Calls: Waiting until the third round to address the issues on the offensive line probably isn't going to make Cam Newton thrilled.

Summary: Benjamin should have no problem earning a starting spot in a revamped Panthers' receiving corps which now includes veterans Jerricho Cotchery and Jason Avant. Meanwhile, Ealy adds to the impressive depth Carolina possesses in the front four and safety Tre Boston could help replace the departed Mike Mitchell. Gettleman, however, probably should have carpet- bombed the O-Line on Day 3 and he ignored it.

FINAL GRADE: B-

Undrafted rookie free agent signings: CB Carrington Byndom, Texas; WR Corey Brown, Ohio State; WR Marcus Lucas, Missouri; OL Jared Wheeler, Miami; DL Shaq Rowell, South Carolina; OL Andrew Norwell, Ohio State; RB Darrin Reaves, UAB; LB Denicos Allen, Michigan State

New Orleans Saints

1 (20) - Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State; 2 (58) Stanley Jean-Baptiste, CB, Nebraska; 4 (126) Khairi Fortt, ILB, California; 5 (167) - Vinny Sunseri, SS, Alabama; 5 (169) - Ronald Powell, OLB, Florida; 6 (202) - Tavon Rooks, OT, Kansas State

Top Picks Analysis: You gotta keep the franchise happy and the New Orleans Saints did exactly that by trading up to draft dynamic Oregon State wide receiver Brandin Cooks, who some have compared to ex-Carolina star Steve Smith, in the first round.

Cooks is undersized but he's got explosive speed and should fit in nicely as the replacement for the departed Lance Moore.

Lengthy cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste was the Saints' other premium pick and he should push the aging Champ Bailey pretty quickly as the potential starter opposite Keenan Lewis.

Best Value Pick: Fourth-round linebacker Khairi Fortt transferred to Cal from Penn State after the Jerry Sandusky-scandal so he might have been off-the- radar for some but he's a speedy, athletic player, who could be a solid fit for a Rob Ryan defense.

Questionable Calls: Fifth-round safety Vinny Sunseri didn't have great speed to begin with and he tore his ACL late last season so he might not have the baseline skills you need to play safety in this league.

Summary: Working with Drew Brees should only help Cooks hit the ground running in the NFL while Jean-Baptiste is the type of big cornerback en vogue right now. The depth, though, just wasn't there for NOLA in this draft.

FINAL GRADE: B-

Undrafted rookie free agent signings: S Ty Zimmerman, Kansas State; S Pierre Warren, Jacksonville State; RB Tim Flanders, Sam Houston State; WR JeRon Hamm, Louisiana Monroe; QB Logan Kilgore, Middle Tennessee State; DL George Uko, New Orleans; LB Spencer Hadley, BYU; WR Brandon Coleman, Rutgers; CB Brian Dixon, Northwest Missouri State; C Matt Armstrong, Grand Valley State; WR Sentavius Jones, Valdosta State; DT Micajah Reynolds, Michigan State; LB Trashaun Nixon, New Mexico State; DE Chidera Uzo-Diribe, Colorado; K Sergio Castillo, West Texas A&M; DE Kasim Edebali, Boston College; DE Lawrence Virgil, Valdosta State

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

1 (7) - Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M; 2 (38) - Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington; 3 (69) - Charles Sims, RB, West Virginia; 5 (143) - Kadeem Edwards, OG, Tennessee State; 5 (149) - Kevin Pamphile, OT, Purdue; 6 (185) - Robert Herron, WR, Wyoming

Top Picks Analysis: Pre-draft hype centering on the Bucs' interest in Johnny Manziel proved to be just that as Tampa Bay stayed home at No. 7 overall and took Manziel's teammate at Texas A&M, lengthy wide receiver Mike Evans.

The 6-foot-5 Evans has elite ball skills but must improve his route running and versatility (he only lined up on the right side in College Station) to become an all-around player.

"He's what today's wide receiver is all about, with the advent of back- shoulder fade, and with big wide receivers playing outside the numbers and in the red zone," NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said when discussing Evans. "The buzz word is catching radius. When paired with Vincent Jackson it's going to be like basketball on grass (in Tampa)."

Evans certainly could team with Jackson to give new Bucs QB Josh McCown a similar set-up to what he had in Chicago last season (Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery).

Tampa Bay got more help for McCown by selecting Washington tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins in the second round, and West Virginia running back Charles Sims in the third.

Best Value Pick: Seferian-Jenkins is a bit of a dinosaur, a true two-way tight end with terrific movement skills and receiving ability for a big man, along with the ability be an effective in-line blocker thanks to his size and strength.

"He has big hands. He's a big target, and can run all the routes you want," NFL Network draft analyst Charles Davis said. "(He) is also a terror in the red zone."

Questionable Calls: Sims projects as a third-down back because he has pretty impressive natural receiving skills but his blocking is a big question mark and that's pretty important if you want to be on the field in obvious passing situations.

Summary: Tampa Bay passed on a chance to upgrade the long-term quarterback position but managed to select the draft's second-best receiver, Evans, as well as the second or third best tight end in Seferian-Jenkins.

FINAL GRADE: B

Undrafted rookie free agent signings: WR Solomon Patton, Florida; QB Brett Smith, Wyoming; CB Keith Lewis, Virginia-Lynchburg; DE Chaz Sutton, South Carolina; WR Aaron Burks, Boise State; WR Tony Hurd Jr., Texas A&M; OL Matt Patchan, Boston College; S Mycal Swaim, Eastern Michigan; OG Chris Burnette, Georgia

Evans, Licht and Smith (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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