2018 NFL Mock Draft – First Round: The NFC South Division [Opinion]

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The Carolina Panthers made it back to the playoffs in 2017, however, they fell short of their offseason goal. The Atlanta Falcons made another trip to the playoffs but their offense stalled at the Eagles goal line. The Saints used a great rushing attack to win the NFC South but fell short in the playoffs on a miracle play against the Vikings. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were one of the most disappointing teams in 2017 and will look to rebound next season. What will these teams do in the 2018 NFL Draft?

Here Is The 2018 NFL Round 1 Mock Draft For The NFC South

#24 Carolina Panthers – Christian Kirk (WR) Texas A&M: It’s no secret that Cam Newton needs help. This is where the Panthers might reach for a player with a tremendous upside like Kirk. With Newton not as accurate as most quarterbacks, the shorter routes could benefit both the offense and Newton’s confidence. Kirk is listed at 5-11 and has the speed and hands to remind everyone of Steve Smith. According to Walter Football, in 2017, Kirk caught 71 passes for 919 yards and 10 touchdowns. While some scouts are down on Kirk, a reason for that has been the play of the Texas A&M quarterbacks and Kirk being double-teamed often. Pairing Kirk with Newton, Stewart, and McCaffrey could make for one dangerous offense.

#26 Atlanta Falcons – Vita Vea (DT) Washington: The Falcons were not weak against the run in 2017, however, with the possibility of the team losing Adrian Clayborn in free agency, the Falcons will need to plug another hole. By adding the huge Vea (332 lbs), he should be just enough to keep the Panthers’ and Saints’ ground games from gaining yards up the middle. In 2017, Vea registered 44 tackles, 3.5 sacks, and four passes batted. A great addition to the Falcons defense.

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#27 New Orleans Saints – Christian Wilkins (DT) Clemson: The Saints are in the same boat as the Falcons. They need someone to plug the run gaps. With the Falcons possibly snagging Vea, the Saints could luck out and have Wilkins fall into their laps. Clemson is a tough defensive-minded program and Wilkins should fit in well with Cameron Jordan and Alex Okafor. In 2017, Wilkins registered 60 tackles, four sacks, and 8.5 tackles for loss.

#7 Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Arden Key (DE) LSU: Ideally, this would be Clelin Ferrell in this spot but he’s heading back to school for another season. The issue with the Bucs taking Key here is the off-the-field issues. If Key can get his act together, then the Bucs will have a solid foundation to build their defense on. With the Bucs being ineffective at rushing the quarterback, it will be wise to go with a player who registered 18.5 sacks over the last two years.