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NFC South 2022 Devin White Bucs

QBs Aside, Who Has Best Roster in NFC South?

  • Ryan Fowler
  • July 1, 2022
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Headlined by Tom Brady’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers and now the Jameis Winston-led New Orleans Saints, the NFC South has become an even more front-loaded division with the departure of Matt Ryan in Atlanta and current turmoil in Carolina under Head Coach Matt Rhule. Right now, it looks to be smooth sailing for the Buccaneers as they eye another Lombardi Trophy, while choppy waters could lie ahead for the rest of the division as they attempt to dethrone the Bucs and the soon to be 45-year-old Brady. 

In this exercise, however, each roster’s projected signal-caller is deemed irrelevant, as Brady, Sam Darnold (CAR), Marcus Mariota (ATL) and Winston, are each put to the side as we evaluate the remaining 10 players on offense, starting defense, and the potential success of each unit, and how it relates to each club’s success as a whole.

From top to bottom, here is how the NFC South shakes out.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Following a 13-4 campaign, a divisional round loss to the Los Angeles Rams and Brady’s retirement oakie-doke, Tampa Bay looks primed for another run at a title in 2022. Built upon an impactful receiving corps headlined by Mike Evans and a blistering, aggressive defense with Vita Vea, Devin White, Lavonte David and Shaq Barrett, there’s no question they remain one of the NFC’s elite despite not returning all 22 of their starters like they did last fall. 

New Orleans Saints

Winston will be fun to watch all year long as a loose cannon but outside of the pocket, the Saints have one of the league’s strongest 53-man groups in the last couple of seasons, not just in the NFC South. It starts and ends with Alvin Kamara on offense, arguably the league’s top pass-catching back who’ll have an even larger chip on his shoulder following his worst year statistically due to playing in only 13 games. Who knows how the Saints’ offense will look under a full season of Winston but a defense led by Cam Jordan, Demario Davis and Marshon Lattimore surely has the ability to keep New Orleans in games, even if all goes haywire offensively.

That being said, the Saints’ Super Bowl window is closing quickly given the short-term contracts of notable defensive additions like Terron Armstead, Tyrann Mathieu and Marcus Williams this offseason. The time is now and the pieces are there for New Orleans to punch their ticket to the playoffs.

Carolina Panthers

It’s talent galore in Christian McCaffrey, Brian Burns, Jaycee Horn, Jeremy Chinn, Derrick Brown… the names go on and on. But, the Panthers have yet to figure it out. While many of their concerns stem from the quarterback position, it’s hard to look at this roster and believe that they will once again be a five win team – or worse – and finish in the basement of the NFC South for the fourth consecutive season. 

Following a 5-12 record last year, it would be an understatement to say Rhule’s seat is warming as we speak. Getting Horn back healthy in the secondary is one thing and the improvement of Terrace Marshall Jr with D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson could round out an impressive receiving corps, but the selection of Ikem Ekwonu to fortify the front five is a foundational add for both the now and for the future. It should open up gaps in the run, and allow Darnold, Matt Corral or whomever aligns under center a few extra ticks of time to scan downfield. 

Despite the lack of success over the last few seasons, the Panthers remain a team I’m highly interested in following if Rhule can quickly put things together. They’re too talented not to compete.

Atlanta Falcons

Tight end Kyle Pitts and rookie wideout Drake London will present two of football’s most dynamic athletes from a pass-catching standpoint in the NFC South. Draftees Arnold Ebiketie and Troy Andersen will offer pop on defense and A.J. Terrell will once again prove himself as one of the league’s most underrated corners. Other than that, there just isn’t much to get excited about as Atlanta enters year two of their full-blown rebuild under General Manager Terry Fontenot and Head Coach Arthur Smith. The trade of Julio Jones to the Titans prior to last year inherently ushered in a new era of Falcons football and with Matt Ryan now donning Colts blue, Atlanta is back to square one – for now. 

While the team looks to maneuver its way back to relevance following four consecutive sub .500 seasons, a respectable seven wins slotted them third in the division last fall. Who knows how the south will look this time next year if the Buccaneers fail to meet expectations and New Orleans falters? Fontenot and Smith are taking the right steps in building up the Falcons piece by piece and while jigsawing a competitive NFL roster is easier said than done, I expect Atlanta to compete sooner rather than later within a division that could look drastically different 365 days from now.