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The mid and late rounds of the NFL draft are just as critical to a team’s success as the first and second rounds. Every year there are late round grabs that become starters, and even all-pros. Let’s take a look at some day two and three projections that will be perfect fits for the NFC South teams.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Offense: Zach Smith – QB, Tulsa
When you pop on the tape of Smith, there is a quarterback that plays with a ton of confidence. He has more than enough arm strength to push the ball downfield, and drill deep outs/comebacks to both sidelines. He seems to be a quick processor in order to get the ball out quick. Having Tom Brady as a mentor could really help Smith evolve and create that diamond in the rough effect.
Defense: Isaiah McDuffie – LB, Boston College
The Bucs could benefit from adding some depth behind their two great inside linebackers of Devin White and Lavonte David. McDuffie projects well to a 3-4 inside spot, and is a tackle machine who racked up 107 last year. Going back to Luke Kuechly in 2012, there seems to be a Boston College linebacker selected almost every other year. McDuffie is capable and deserves to add his name to this trend.
Offense: Kylin Hill – RB, Mississippi State
With running back Todd Gurley gone after a one and done season in Atlanta, the Falcons are left with newly acquired Mike Davis as the starter and no depth. Hill runs angry and constantly drags defenders. He gets north and south in a hurry and also can pose a receiving threat out of the backfield. The Falcons would benefit from having a dynamic back like Hill who really possesses the talent to become a starter.
Defense: Tre Brown – CB, Oklahoma
The Falcons’ new head coach Arthur Smith was able to lure defensive coordinator Dean Pees out of retirement to join him in Atlanta. Pees already made it known that his defense will display multiple looks and not settle on a scheme. Regardless of scheme, Tre Brown is an absolute burner and Pees can find a place to utilize his speed. Brown could easily fill a nickel back role and even become a blitzer on occasion for the notably deceptive coordinator.
Offense: Kenneth Gainwell – RB, Memphis
It is very possible that Gainwell may be snatched up by the end of round two, but most big boards have him slated right inside the top 100. The Panthers should grab him with their third round choice (Pick #73) because they have some serious production to replace. With Curtis Samuel and Mike Davis gone, they return barely 100 yards rushing behind Christian McCaffrey, and are missing 136 receptions and over 1,000 receiving yards.
Obviously a healthy McCaffrey will alleviate some of the damage but having Gainwell as his partner in crime will make a deadly combo. He’s electric in the open field and is so shifty to create missed tackles. He’s such a great route runner out of the backfield who can create easy completions for Sam Darnold or Teddy Bridgewater.
Defense: James Wiggins – Safety, Cincinnati
Wiggins is a complete safety prospect who is instinctive when diagnosing the play. He’s a sure tackler who flies to the ball and can force incompletions in the passing game. If it wasn’t for injury concerns, he would be a much higher pick, but since the Panthers could use some star power at safety, Wiggins is the choice.
New Orleans Saints
Offense: Chuba Hubbard – RB, Oklahoma State
With Taysom Hill taking the reins at quarterback for the Saints, there should be a lot of read option implementation. Hubbard has serious speed and needs just a little space to bust one free, which becomes easier as the option can remove one defender from the play. Pairing him and Alvin Kamara will create a dynamic threat of speed in the backfield.
Defense: Tony Fields II – LB, West Virginia
The Saints need to add depth to an inexperienced linebacker room. Fields may not be overwhelming in size but his speed and reaction skills will help him be at the right place at the right time. He could be a situational third down linebacker and try to help the Saints continue to cause interceptions.