NFC South Draft Needs
By: Kenneth Harrison
TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services
The NFC South was the worst division in the NFL in 2022. Tampa Bay won the division but finished the season with a losing record, 8 – 9.
They did rest Tom Brady after the first drive of their final regular season game, so they were trying to rest him and not risk injury going into the playoffs. The Bucs were beaten thoroughly in the Wild Card round by Dallas, 31 – 14.
The other three teams in the division all finished 7 – 10. Do any of these teams have something to look forward to in the offseason?
Surprisingly, they all need help at quarterback. We do not know if Brady is returning for the 2023 season. He was asked this and he seemed a bit annoyed.
“If I knew what I was going to f—ing do I would’ve already f—ing done it,” he told Jim Gray. “I’m taking it a day at a time. I appreciate you asking. Thank you.”
Let’s take a look at the team needs of each franchise.
Atlanta: The Falcons have the No. 8 pick in the 2023 draft. They also have the lowest sack percentage (3.6%) and second lowest QB pressure rate (22%) in the league one year after they finished last in both of those categories.
Someone has to find a spark for the Falcons’ pass rush.
The biggest needs are quarterback, edge rusher and wide receiver. They started Marcus Mariota most of the season before playing rookie Desmond Ridder. I think the most likely scenario will be to draft a defensive player with the first pick.
One pleasant surprise was the offensive line. The unit, led by right guard Chris Lindstrom and left tackle Jake Matthews, helped to pave the way for 159.9 rushing yards per game, which ranked third in the NFL.
Carolina: The Panthers have glaring needs at QB, corner back and tight end. They hold the 9th pick.
Jaycee Horn is a very good young corner, but they need to get someone opposite of him. They desperately need to find stability at the quarterback position but that is difficult.
They started three different quarterbacks and even dropped Baker Mayfield during the season. That was surprising since Mayfield started the season opener.
They also traded Christian McCaffrey to the 49ers before the trade deadline. It looks like they are in full rebuilding mode.
Tampa Bay: The Buccaneers are picking 19th overall. With Brady’s future unknown they need to consider quarterback, defensive back and offensive line.
They had several starting offensive linemen go down with injuries and I think that’s a key reason to why they struggled.
They also fired offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich so we do not know who will replace him yet. If Brady does retire, they will have a very tough 2023 season.
New Orleans: The Saints traded their first-round pick to Philadelphia last April. The Eagles have the No. 10 pick thanks to that deal.
Now the first pick is No. 41 in the second round. They need a quarterback, safety, defensive tackle, guard and wide receiver.
Jameis Winston has been injury prone the last two seasons and he has not played as well as expected.
The division could be wide open next season. We will get a clearer picture after free agency and the draft.