2013 NFL Draft grades: Falcons, Saints top NFC South classes

USA TODAY Sports

Draftniks grade the draft classes in the NFC South.

The balance of power in the NFC South shifted last season, with the Falcons running away with the division en route to the No. 1 overall seed in the playoffs. The Saints, Buccaneers and Panthers all made moves in the offseason trying to catch up with the Falcons -- but only time will tell if it's enough.

Mel Kiper Jr., Chris Burke and Rob Rang all posted their grades for the 2013 draft class. Here's how they view what transpired in the NFC South over the weekend.

Carolina Panthers

Kiper: C+
Burke: C
Rang: B

The Panthers were fortunate to have Star Lotulelei fall to them with the No. 14 overall pick, but after that, the Panthers only made four more selections -- missing their third and seventh-round picks. Carolina did well to address its defensive needs with Lotuelei and Kawaan Short, but the consensus appears to be that the Panthers should have addressed the secondary as well -- and that fourth-round selection Edmund Kugbila, a guard from Valdosta State, is a head-scratcher.

New Orleans Saints

Kiper: B
Burke: C
Rang: B-

New Orleans drafted former Texas Longhorns safety Kenny Vaccaro, widely regarded as the top safety in the draft class, with the No. 15 overall pick, helping bolster its paltry defense. While the selection of Vaccaro earns universal praise, the rest of the draft is somewhat divisive. New Orleans did not have a second-round pick because of the bounty scandal, hurting its draft class. Both Kiper and Rang praise New Orleans' second third-round pick, Jon Jenkins, believing he can be a difference-maker immediately.

Atlanta Falcons

Kiper: B
Burke:B
Rang: B

It's safe to say the Falcons had an above-average, but not spectacular draft class, as all three analysts give the Falcons a B. Atlanta moved up in the first round to draft Desmond Trufant, and added another cornerback, Robert Alford, in the second round. Six of Atlanta's eight picks were defensive, as the Falcons also selected two defensive ends and two safeties in the draft as well. The Falcons entered the draft needing to improve their defense -- and did just that.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Kiper: B
Burke: C
Rang: C+

Tampa Bay traded its first-round pick to the New York Jets in exchange for All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis -- a move that isn't reflected in Tampa Bay's draft class. The Buccaneers continued to boost their secondary in the second round, selecting former Mississippi State cornerback Johnthan Banks with the No. 43 overall pick. The Bucs used their third-rounder on Mike Glennon, before focusing on defense again with Akeem Spence, William Gholston and Steven Means.

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