Anyone who doesn't think the NFC South is one of or the most competitive division in football needs to have his or her head checked with calipers. If you want to cultivate a healthy rivalry, this is a good place to do it.
That said, we've been so busy soaking in the spoils of our own draft that perhaps we've forgotten about our
dumb ugly erstwhile rivals! I guess I'd better remedy that with my own irresponsible, incredibly inaccurate thoughts on what the Bucs, Panthers and Saints did this draft day. Read on!
Tampa Bay Bucs
Just so we're clear, I'm probably the biggest Josh Freeman fan in any room that isn't filled with his immediate family. I think he's going to produce for them sooner than anyone expects, and I'd give him a better than 70% chance to be a solid franchise quarterback for the Bucs. Plus, given enough time, I'm going to be able to make some Half-Life jokes about him. So there's upside there.
The rest of the draft is underwhelming, in my mind. Their second round pick went toward Kellen Winslow, which was a very good move, but I can't really count it as a draft pick. DT Roy Miller is rock solid, but I'm not all that impressed with DE Kyle Moore or CB E.J. Biggers. OT Xavier Fulton may end up having injury problems, but I do like WR Sammie Stroughter as the last pick of their draft.
It's not a terrible series of picks by any measure, but nothing other than Freeman jumps off the board at me. The Bucs are a team that I think will cause trouble in the NFC South sooner than we're ready for, but they didn't get appreciatively better due to this draft.
Check out what Bucs fans--who, you know, actually know what they're talking about--are saying at Buc 'Em.
Feel free to joke about how boneheaded it was to throw a huge contract at Jake Delhomme, because I sure have. After you're done laughing, you've got to acknowledge what an amazing job the Panthers' front office did with this draft.
First of all, getting DE Everette Brown in the second round is just staggering value. As a terrific pass rusher, Brown is going to give us fits every time we have to play the Teal Cats, and that means I automatically detest him. You suck, Everette Brown! CB Sherrod Martin and DT Corey Irvin are both a little bit raw, but there's a ton of potential there and they fill positions of need for the Panthers. Like us, the team went defense early and often, and it looks like it will pay off for them.
RB Mike Goodson would be a great choice for most teams, but the Panthers already have one of the league's better back tandems, so he's likely to get buried. FB Tony Fiammetta was widely considered the best in the draft as his position, and you all know I like OG Duke Robinson a lot. Top off the draft with CB Captain Munnerlyn, who has a fantastic name, and it's pretty clear that the Panthers got a ton of value on paper despite not even having a first round pick. I thought they'd be the worst in the division this year, but I'm not so sure at this point.
For more on the Panthers, check out Cat Scratch Reader.
New Orleans Saints
This is a tough draft to grade, especially since the Saints only wound up with four draft picks. In the end, I'm probably going to get lambasted for going too high or too low based on a single pick. When it's 25% of your bounty, though, I think it's justified.
CB Malcolm Jenkins was probably the safest pick New Orleans could make, and his selection upgrades easily the team's biggest weakness: its patchwork/makeshift/ugly as sin secondary. Jenkins is the real deal, and he'll make life a little tougher for Roddy White once he works his way up the ladder. S Chip Vaughn is a solid player who will likely be a starter, but aside from his fit in the secondary, I don't see him becoming anything fantastic.
LB Stanley Arnoux is very underrated, I think. The team will have to move him outside to get true value, thanks for Jonathan Vilma clogging up the inside like some sort of talented clog, but he'll do just fine out there. I see him as a potential starter, as well, which brings out total count to three. Not at all bad, and that would probably get the Saints a B or even a B+.
But wait! The Saints then decided a wise decision would be to swap next year's fifth rounder and this year's seventh rounder for P Thomas Morstead. That's not a typo, mind you. They actually traded those two picks for a punter. A punter, mind you, who is probably not the second coming of Ray Guy. When they still arguably had needs at other positions. He may very well turn out to be a good punter, but in a draft with so few picks to begin with, I find it hard to puzzle out the logic for this move.
For all things Saints and whatever else they do in New Orleans for fun, check out Canal Street Chronicles.
So that's that. What are your thoughts on our hated rivals and their drafting prowess?