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NFC South Draft Classes Ranked

Which NFC South team had the best draft?

NFL: APR 29 Buccaneers Press Conference Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

With the 2023 draft now in the past, it is time to start looking over what not just the Buccaneers were able to accomplish, but other teams as well. Particularly, the other teams in the Bucs division.

In a division that appears to be open for the taking, a solid draft could be what separates the teams in the NFC South this fall. Let’s rank the draft hauls from the best to the worst.

1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Round 1: DL Calijah Kancey

Round 2: OL Cody Mauch

Round 3: OLB YaYa Diaby

Round 5: LB SirVocea Dennis

Round 5: TE Payne Durham

Round 6: DB Josh Hayes

Round 6: WR Trey Palmer

Round 6: OLB Jose Ramirez

The Buccaneers had a solid class that filled needs while also drafting players with high upside that can contribute now and in the future. They accomplished their goal of getting faster and more explosive on both sides of the ball. The rest of the teams in the South were unable to replicate a Bucs class that hit on all cylinders. Tampa Bay’s draft wasn’t perfect, but it was the best one out of the bunch.

2. Carolina Panthers

Round 1: QB Bryce Young

Round 2: WR Jonathan Mingo

Round 3: OLB DJ Johnson

Round 4: G Chandler Zavala

Round 5: S Jammie Robinson

Having the top pick in the draft certainly helps this ranking. Being able to land Bryce Young who has the potential to be a true franchise quarterback is huge for a team like Carolina that has playing quarterback roulette with little success the past few seasons. Mingo gives Carolina another weapon that will try and help offset the loss of D.J. Moore. The Panthers did not have many picks in this draft and that hurt their overall class ranking, but the picks of Chandler Zavala and Jammie Robinson on day three have the potential to become key contributors for Carolina as they look to finally start competing once again.

3. Atlanta Falcons

Round 1: RB Bijan Robinson

Round 2: OL Mathew Bergeron

Round 3: DL Zach Harrison

Round 4: CB Clark Phillips III

Round 7: S DeMarcco Hellams

Round 7: OL Jovaughn Gwyn

NFL: APR 27 2023 Draft Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

This may be the most controversial class of the division and mostly due to the first pick. Atlanta selected Texas running back Bijan Robinson 8th overall and while Robinson was easily the best back in the class, the positional value that a running back brings is questionable, especially in the top ten. To select Robinson, the Falcons passed on the likes of Christian Gonzales and Jalen Carter, both of whom would have been terrific fits for them. Bergeron is a solid piece that can play either guard or tackle and Harrison brings some versatility as well. They did add a real value pick in Clark Phillips III in the fourth round. Phillips III was considered a day two pick so to be able to land him at that spot was a really nice get.

The class has some good players, I just think they missed an opportunity to add a legit impact player for their defense in the first round, especially when Tyler Allgeier just had over 1,000 yards rushing in 2022. Replacing him with a back who is better, but passing on other more valuable talent is questionable.

4. New Orleans Saints

Round 1: DL Bryan Bresee

Round 2: EDGE Isaiah Foskey

Round 3: RB Kendre Miller

Round 4: OL Nick Saldiveri

Round 4: QB Jake Haener

Round 5: S Jordan Howden

Round 6: WR A.T. Perry

The Saints did address their positions of need which I will give them credit for, but the players they selected just weren’t ones that I particularly liked. Bresee is a fine defensive lineman who could develop but he just never flashed on tape to me. Foskey is another fine prospect, but they passed on a guy like B.J. Ojulari who I think would have been a better fit and make sense with the LSU connection. Alvin Kamara has been up and down recently on the field and has had problems off of it, but again, there were other backs available on the board like Tyjae Spears and Tank Bigbsy. Saldiveri could be a nice developmental lineman who is versatile and Haener is a fine developmental QB, but it just feels like this was a missed opportunity by New Orleans to add some higher level talent.

What It Means For The Buccaneers

Simply put, it means that if some things break Tampa’s way in 2023, they could very well still compete for the NFC South crown. While one could argue the Bucs were the team that lost the most talent in the division during the offseason, the other teams still have major question marks as well.

Even though it will certainly be a tougher road for Tampa Bay in 2023, winning the NFC South is not completely out of the question.