NFC South Notes: Buccaneers, Falcons, Panthers, Saints


  • Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer writes that while TE Rob Gronkowski retired because his body was feeling beat up, the chance to play with Tom Brady again might have helped propel him back. An AFC executive added 18 months away from football might help rejuvenate Gronkowski: “His body was just beat to hell and he couldn’t run. But who knows what 18 months off will do? He’s still only 30.”
  • Breer mentions Gronkowski retired in part because he narrowly avoided a fourth back surgery, so that will be something Tampa Bay will need to monitor. 
  • Breer thinks the Buccaneers should have a strong market for TE O.J. Howard, particularly if this draft class is as weak as is widely perceived. 
  • CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones believes the Buccaneers could get a third or a fourth-round pick from a team for Howard, whose value was hurt by the trade for Gronkowski.
  • Pro Football Network’s Tony Pauline writes the Buccaneers are hoping to come away with an offensive tackle, specifically Louisville OT Mekhi Becton, in the first round. Otherwise, the goal is to trade down from the No. 14 pick. 


  • CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones reports the Falcons are still trying to get into the top-10 after being rebuffed by Washington.
  • Atlanta is eyeing Arizona’s pick at No. 8 but a trade with the Browns at No. 10 might be more likely, with Florida CB C.J. Henderson and LSU DE K’Lavon Chaisson possible targets. 
  • However, a Falcons source tells ESPN’s Dianna Russini “Don’t believe the hype” about a big Falcons move to the draft’s top tier. 


  • Yahoo Sports’ Charles Robinson mentions the Panthers at No. 7 overall are seen as a target pick for teams trading up for offensive tackle help. 
  • He adds the team is seen as a bit of a mystery, as the way the team has operated this offseason has been puzzling to some and no one knows who is making the final pick — GM Marty Hurney or HC Matt Rhule.
  • CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones says if the Panthers manage to trade down out of the top-10, Oklahoma WR CeeDee Lamb would be one of their targets. 
  • However, Jones adds the pick will be a defensive player if Carolina stays in the top-ten range — with options including Ohio State CB Jeffrey Okudah, Auburn DT Derrick Brown, Clemson LB Isaiah Simmons and Florida CB C.J. Henderson.


The Saints head into the 2020 season with Drew Brees back for another year and his heir-apparent — if you believe the constant praise from the organization — waiting in the wings with Taysom Hill. Still, New Orleans has done its homework on some of the quarterbacks in the draft this year like Utah State QB Jordan Love, and Saints GM Mickey Loomis says that’s because they’re always keeping an eye in case a quarterback they like falls to their pick. 

“I think that any time you have a chance to get a quality quarterback prospect, regardless of your quarterback situation, you’d like to take advantage of that,” Loomis said via John DeShazier of the team’s website. “For us, it hasn’t come. There hasn’t been the match where we’re picking with a prospect that we really like. Our approach is exactly the same this year: If there’s someone there that we really like and have a vision for at the time we’re picking, then we’re not afraid to pull that trigger.”

  • Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer has heard Love be connected to the Saints. 
  • ESPN’s Dianna Russini reports the Saints have called every team ahead of their pick at No. 24 to lay groundwork for a potential move up in the draft.
  • While New Orleans is content waiting until their pick, there are a few players they would consider moving up for, even if just a few picks. 
  • The Athletic’s Katherine Terrell thinks Alabama WR Henry Ruggs III is one of those players the Saints would move up for. 
  • At 24, the Saints aren’t thinking receiver or quarterback, but are instead considering a lineman, cornerback or even running back, as they love Wisconsin RB Jonathan Taylor. (Russini)

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