Below we discuss the projected first-round selections for teams residing in the NFC South and how those picks will impact their respective seasons.
Carolina Panthers: #7 Overall Pick
The Panthers were defensively porous last season, allowing a whopping 29.4 points per game, better only than the Dolphins. Therefore, their biggest area of concern is bolstering their shoddy defensive unit through the draft, although, Carolina did add a few relatively inexpensive spare parts in free agency with the signings of defensive end Stephen Weatherly, safety Juston Burris, and linebacker Tahir Whitehead. However, with the retirement of Luke Kuechly, the Cats will need an impact player and they can get their wish with the No. 7 overall pick.
- #7 Derrick Brown (DT, Auburn) – One could make a case that the Panthers have so many holes that picking the best available defensive player is their best bet. Fortunately, there are three immediate impact players in this year’s draft at all three levels of the defense. However, chances are that Ohio State cornerback Jeff Okudah and Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons will both be off the board before the Panthers get their pick. But that’s okay because they will be shoring up their most glaring defensive weakness when Carolina selects a chaos-maker in the trenches named Derrick Brown.
Tampa Bay Bucs: #14 Overall Pick
Despite the fact that the Bucs were woeful defensively, their draft plans changed the moment they won the Tom Brady Sweepstakes. When your team’s best offensive linemen, Ali Marpet, hails from a D-3 school (Hobart) then things need fixin’. And to that end, it would be stunning if the Bucs didn’t select one of the several elite offensive tackles in this year’s draft to protect the GOAT. As an aside, the NFL odds on the Bucs dropped rapidly when Brady signed and they are now +200 to win the NFC South, trailing only the Saints at -125 according to the oddsmakers at BetOnline.
- #14 Mekhi Becton (OT, Louisville) – The massive Mekhi Becton has been rising up the draft boards, leapfrogging some of his talented contemporaries at his position. And although one could make a case that Becton will be long gone by the time the Bucs make their pick, the same could be said of at least three other talented tackles. The NFL prop odds on the first offensive tackle taken in the draft is Tristan Wirfs (+100), Jedrick Wills (+230), Mekhi Becton (+240), Andrew Thomas (+1400), and the Field (+3300) at BetOnline.
Atlanta Falcons: #16 Overall Pick
The Falcons’ fall from grace has been precipitous since their ignominious Super Bowl loss to the Patriots just a few years ago. In 2019, Atlanta ended its season with a 7-9 mark and must work first, and foremost, on rebuilding its defense. An edge rusher, ala LSU’s K’Lavon Chaisson, would make sense as would South Carolina’s defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw. However, the Falcons could see a top-tier cornerback hanging around at this spot who could fill the void left by Detroit-bound Desmond Trufant. And it just so happens that such a player could very well be there for the taking.
- #16 CJ Henderson (CB, Florida) – The 6’1, 202 pound Henderson is the consolation prize to Ohio State’s Jeff Okudah but everyone is equal once training camp begins and Henderson projects as an immediate starter and one who could toughen up the Falcons’ secondary the moment he steps foot onto the field. He was a shutdown corner for the Gators who faced stiff opposition in the SEC and appears game ready when September rolls around.
New Orleans Saints: #24 Overall Pick
The Saints marched to a 13-3 record last year but if you decided they were worthy to be included in your NFL picks as seven-point home favorites in the opening round of the playoffs then their 26-20 overtime loss to the Vikings had you cursing at your television. Offensively, the Saints resigned Drew Brees and added Emmanuel Sanders to their receiving corps led by the sublime Michael Thomas. Therefore, the defense should be the team’s priority on draft day and if the chips fall just right they could wind up with…
- #24 Kenneth Murray (LB, Oklahoma) – Although some of the pundits have the Saints picking one of the many elite wide receivers in this year’s draft, that doesn’t seem to make much sense considering they could use their second-rounder to snag one of them or even trade up in that round if they so choose. There could be two impact linebackers available at No. 24 but I don’t believe LSU’s Patrick Queen will still be here so they will opt for Oklahoma’s Kenneth Murray. The 6’2” Murray is an explosive tackler and has a great range. He will be a boon for the Saints this season.
We also discussed the projected first-round selections for teams residing in the AFC North, AFC East, AFC South, NFC East, NFC North and NFC West, and how their picks will impact their respective seasons. If you would like to talk more about football with other bettors, we invite you to visit SBR’s NFL Betting Forum.