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Wednesday, May 1, 2013
NFC South under-the-radar rookies

By Pat Yasinskas

Let’s have a little fun and look back at the latter stages of the NFL draft.

I’m going to pick one player from each team who was drafted after the third round that might end up getting significant playing time as a rookie.

ATLANTA FALCONS

Defensive end Malliciah Goodman was drafted in the fourth round out of Clemson. Goodman has a shot at working his way into the rotation with Osi Umenyiora and Kroy Biermann. Jonathan Massaquoi and Cliff Matthews also could be in the mix for that spot, but the Falcons wouldn’t have drafted Goodman if they were completely sold on Massaquoi and Matthews. Goodman has decent quickness and the Falcons are looking for additional help in the pass rush.

CAROLINA PANTHERS

Iowa State linebacker A.J. Klein was drafted in the fifth round. Klein played inside linebacker in college, but the Panthers are set at that spot with Luke Kuechly as the starter and Chase Blackburn as the backup. It seems likely Klein will move to the outside. The Panthers have quality starters there in Jon Beason and Thomas Davis, but both have a history of injuries. Klein could be a nice backup on the outside and the Panthers want him to be a core special-teams player.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

The Saints drafted Oklahoma receiver Kenny Stills in the fifth round and I think he has a chance at immediate playing time. Marques Colston and Lance Moore are the only sure things in the receiving corps and we all know the Saints like to use a lot of multi-receiver sets. Stills is a smooth route-runner with decent speed and he’ll compete for playing time with Nick Toon and Joe Morgan.

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

Defensive end William Gholston was drafted in the fourth round out of Michigan State. Gholston wasn’t all that productive in college, but he has all the measurables and lots of potential. The Bucs have Adrian Clayborn and Da'Quan Bowers as their starters, but Gholston will have a shot at earning a spot in the rotation.