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2024 NFL Draft Grades: NFC South

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With the 2024 draft complete, theScore's NFL editors hand out their initial grades for each team's incoming rookies.


Grade: D

What in the world are the Falcons doing? Not only was Penix a major reach, but using the No. 8 on a quarterback after signing Kirk Cousins feels wildly irresponsible. A top-10 pick in a loaded draft offered them a unique opportunity to add a premium talent and upgrade the roster around their $180M man. And for anyone pointing to the "Packers model" - drafting quarterbacks of the future years in advance - consider that Penix is already 24 years old. There's no justifying this bizarre decision. Unfortunately for Falcons fans, Day 2 also got off to a rough start. Trading away a third-round pick to move up eight spots to draft Orhorhoro, our seventh-ranked interior defensive lineman, was another strange decision. Continuing to bolster the pass rush with mid-round value picks in Trice and Dorlus does salvage this draft, but it's tough to overlook Atlanta's initial choices. This was a massive misstep for the Falcons.

Grade: B+

Carolina was far more measured in its first draft under a new regime - the best example being the move to pick up a 2025 second-round pick from the Rams to drop back 13 spots in this year's second round. And it's hard not to love the team's selections. Legette is a physical, athletic receiver who could become Bryce Young's No. 1 target. Brooks, our top-ranked running back, is a do-it-all weapon and a major upgrade over Miles Sanders and Chuba Hubbard. Wallace is one of the most exciting linebackers in this class, and Sanders rounds out an impressive trio of weapons added to the offense. The Panthers could be on the rise if this class is an indication of how new leadership will do business.

Grade: B

It felt like a guarantee that the Saints would take an offensive lineman in the first round, and they got themselves a good one. Fuaga is an imposing presence who should immediately step in as a starter at either tackle spot. Given the possibility of a Marshon Lattimore trade, New Orleans needed a cornerback - and McKinstry was a steal with the ninth pick of the second round. Trades left the Saints short on mid-round selections, so the talent in this group lacks some depth. But taking Rattler in the fifth round is one of the most interesting picks of the entire draft. The South Carolina product, who ranked as our No. 7 quarterback, has all the skills to become a starting signal-caller at the next level.

Grade: B

The Bucs quietly had a strong weekend. Barton is an impressive offensive line prospect who, after finishing his Duke career as a left tackle, figures to play center in the NFL. It's a unique transition, to be sure, but his combination of athleticism, processing skills, and physicality gives him Pro Bowl potential on the inside. Braswell, our sixth-ranked edge rusher, is a nice addition to Tampa Bay's pass-rush group. McMillan could be a productive slot receiver alongside Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, and Irving's pass-catching skill set could make him a great complement for Rachaad White. This group could help the Bucs take another step forward.

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