- Pat Yasinskas, ESPN Staff Writer
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In this Insider post, Mel Kiper grades the draft classes for the NFC South teams and the entire league.
I won’t reveal the grades here, since we’re not supposed to give away everything in Insider posts. However, I will tell you Kiper gave the Buccaneers the highest grade in the division. Tough to argue with that one, since Tampa Bay did a very nice job of filling needs. The Bucs also got what might turn out to be great value when they took defensive end Da'Quan Bowers, who tumbled into the second round.
The Saints were next in the division in Kiper’s grading system.
He likes that they got defensive end Cameron Jordan and running back Mark Ingram in the first round and thinks linebacker Martez Wilson should have been drafted long before the Saints took him in the third round.
Kiper gave the Falcons mixed-reviews. He says their draft was all about wide receiver Julio Jones and he’s right because the Falcons gave up a lot to move up to No. 6 to get him. Kiper also says that means the Falcons expect Jones to be very good right away. He’s probably right and that might not be fair to Jones. As a general rule, rookie receivers take a little time to develop. Atlanta’s draft can’t really be graded fairly for a couple of years. But Kiper gets paid to do his grades very quickly.
Although they had the No. 1 overall pick, Kiper gave the Panthers the lowest grade in the division. Like a lot of people, Kiper is torn on quarterback Cam Newton. He acknowledged the tremendous upside, but said the Panthers might be wise to let Newton sit for a season. That might be true, but I think the plan is to play him pretty quickly.