Grading every NFC South team’s haul from the 2023 NFL draft

How do you grade the New Orleans Saints’ 2023 draft class? What about the other teams around the NFC South? The Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers made some big moves in this year’s draft, as did the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and it’s going to result in a more competitive race for the division title than Saints fans may have first expected. Here’s our take on each team’s haul:

Atlanta Falcons

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI – APRIL 27: (L-R) Bijan Robinson poses with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected eighth overall by the Atlanta Falcons during the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft at Union Station on April 27, 2023 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images)

  • Round 1, Pick 8 – RB Bijan Robinson, Texas

  • Round 2, Pick 38 – OL Matthew Bergeron, Syracuse

  • Round 3, Pick 75 – DE Zach Harrison, Ohio State

  • Round 4, Pick 113 – CB Clark Phillips III, Utah

  • Round 7, Pick 224 – S DeMarcco Hellams, Alabama

  • Round 7, Pick 225 – OL Jovaughn Gwyn, South Carolina

The Atlanta Falcons will have a entertaining offense next season, but it still doesn’t seem as though they’re ready to compete for the division with this draft. Zach Harrison as their top defensive pick doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence, though they did address a lot in free agency. Phillips in the fourth round was good value for who will likely be a starting nickel sooner rather than later. Robinson at eighth overall was shocking but still an okay pick as they’ll get a very good player to fill multiple roles. They had larger needs to address than they did.

Grade: C+

Carolina Panthers

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  • Round 1, Pick 1 – QB Bryce Young, Alabama

  • Round 2, Pick 39 – WR Jonathan Mingo, Ole Miss

  • Round 3, Pick 80 – OLB D.J. Johnson, Oregon

  • Round 4, Pick 114 – OL Chandler Zavala, N.C. State

  • Round 5, Pick 145 – S Jammie Robinson, Florida State

This was almost a fantastic draft class for Carolina, close to an A+, but the D.J. Johnson trade was puzzling enough to drop it a bit. I think Johnson has the potential to become a good player in the NFL, but it’s just that for now. Potential. It’s a luxury pick to trade up and draft an experiment at pass rusher. Carolina can’t do that right now. Better draft capital could’ve been used to get more weapons for their new young QB Bryce Young. I like the rest of the picks a lot, if Johnson works out this’ll be a draft class to remember.

Grade: A-

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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  • Round 1, Pick 19 – DL Calijah Kancey, Pittsburgh

  • Round 2, Pick 48 – OL Cody Mauch, North Dakota State

  • Round 3, Pick 82 – DE YaYa Diaby, Louisville

  • Round 5, Pick 171 – TE Payne Durham, Purdue

  • Round 6, Pick 181 – CB Josh Hayes, Kansas State

  • Round 6, Pick 191 – WR Trey Palmer, Nebraska

  • Round 6, Pick 196 – LB Jose Ramirez, Eastern Michigan

We’ll they drafted a lot of players, but how many of them really help make the team better immediately. They went potential over all else in this class, really hoping to strike gold in the second half the class as this rebuild begins. I do really like the Kancey pick and Diaby is a perfect third-round pass rusher, but there’s not much more to get excited about here. A bit confusing to go so defense heavy when an offense losing Tom Brady needs as much help as they can get.

Grade: C

New Orleans Saints

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  • Round 1, Pick 29 – DL Bryan Bresee, Clemson

  • Round 2, Pick 40 – DE Isaiah Foskey, Notre Dame

  • Round 3, Pick 71 – RB Kendre Miller, TCU

  • Round 4, Pick 127 – QB Jake Haener, Fresno State

  • Round 5, Pick 146 – S Jordan Howden, Minnesota

  • Round 6, Pick 195 – WR A.T. Perry, Wake Forest

The Saints didn’t grab every single need on the roster in this draft, but what they did do is knock out the biggest ones. The horrid pass rush of last season has no excuse to return after their first two picks of Bresee and Foskey. Bresee might be a bit of a risk in the first round to some, but the reward outweighs that risk as he can contribute right away while also have the potential to be an all-timer. Foskey is about as safe of a defensive lineman pick that the team has ever made. Haener is a stellar backup option. Miller should be ready to play immediately as the team awaits what happens with Kamara. Perry in the sixth round is great value. This is one of the better Saints drafts in recent memory.

Grade: A-

Story originally appeared on Saints Wire