2018 NFL Draft: The First-Round Picks from the NFC South


Each team of the NFC South filled roster holes during the 2018 NFL Draft. Let’s grade the rest of the NFC South

The Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers all had picks in the first-round draft in the 2018 NFL Draft. Both the Saints and Bucs traded up and down the board to take players they felt were franchise altering talent.

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Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons used their 26th overall pick on Alabama’s Calvin Ridley. 

The Atlanta Falcons have seriously bolstered their offense. While many may argue that the Falcons should have bolstered their interior offensive line or defensive secondary, the impact that Ridley will have on an already potent offensive attack cannot be understated.

The Falcons’ offense possesses one of the strongest receiver-quarterback connections in NFL history with Matt Ryan and Julio Jones. Also, the rest of that receiving core consists of Mohammad Sanu and Greg Hardy. Couple that with a running back duo of Devonte Freeman and Tevin Coleman, the Falcons’ offensive attack was already one of the most potent in the NFL. The addition of Ridley will make the Falcons’ offense nearly indefensible.

Consider the lack of depth at the cornerback position in the NFC South. The Falcons have just drafted to make a run at winning the NFC South.

New Orleans Saints

The New Orleans Saints traded their 2018 first-round pick (27th overall), their 2018 fifth-round pick (147th overall), and their 2019 first-round pick to the Green Bay Packers for their 2018 first-round pick (14th overall). The Saints used their 14th overall pick on UTSA’s Marcus Davenport. 

With the offense held down by quarterback Drew Brees, wideout Michael Thomas, and the running back duo of Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram II, the Saints continue their defensive overhaul. The Saints gave up a bounty of picks to move up to take Davenport, and with good reason. Defensive end Cameron Jordan has been a consistent threat off of the left edge, but the Saints failed to pair him with a competent defensive end that can come off of the right side. Now, the Saints have completely changed the make-up of their defensive line.

A defensive secondary anchored by the young talent of Marshon Lattimore and Marcus Williams just got paired with a legit pass rushing duo. If Davenport is everything analysts say he is, the Saints are seriously going all in during the twilight of Brees’ career.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers traded their 2018 first-round pick (7th overall) and their 2018 seventh-round pick (255th overall) to the Buffalo Bills for their 2018 first-round pick (12th overall), two second-round picks (53th overall and 56th overall). The Buccaneers used their 14th overall pick on University of Washington’s Vita Vea. 

Fun fact, Vita Vea’s full name is Tevita Tuliʻakiʻono Tuipulotu Mosese Vaʻhae Fehoko Faletau Vea. Jeez, that’s a difficult name to pronounce.

Another thing that will be difficult to hand is the Buccaneers’ new-look defensive line. After a flurry of trades, free agent signings, and the draft, the Buccaneer’s front office has created a monster. The edges are locked down by the rushing duo of Jason Pierre-Paul and Vinny Curry; one brought in via trade and the other brought in via free agency. Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy has already been a force in the league, and he was just paired with the top defensive tackle prospect in the draft: Vita Vea.

Next: Panthers: NFL Draft needs moving forward – Updated

Tampa’s front office recognized the problem of the defensive line and (no pun intended) tackled the issue. This defensive line is going to be a serious issue in the NFC South.