The NFC South has some high flying offenses, but what will determine who comes out on top will he their defense, especially along the defensive line.
With the quarterbacks and running backs in this division, being able to impact the QB and stop the run will be paramount in being a contender. The Atlanta Falcons retooled their DL by acquiring Dante Fowler and Charles Harris via free agency and selecting Marlon Davison through the draft. They certainly added some nastiness to their DL to complement Jarrett, but how do they rank amongst the rest of the division?
1. New Orleans Saints
I know what you’re thinking. It pains me to do this again, but with the likes of Cam Jordan, Marcus Davenport and Sheldon Rankins, the Saints have one of the best Defensive Lines in the league. This is a pretty well rounded, pretty deep group of players that can pressure the QB consistently and stop the run. It took the Saints a little time to build the unit, but they certainly did so the right way, with most of those players coming aboard via the draft. We still hope the price they paid for Davenport comes back to bite them, though.
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
This is another group chock full of talent, unfortunateyl. With the likes of Vita Vea, Ndamukong Suh, William Gholston, and Jason Pierre-Paul, this is a big and powerful group that’s very stout against the run. This group is also talented enough the rush the passer and collapse the pocket, and especially dangerous in the middle.
Also, even though Shaquil Barrett is considered an OLB with this odd front, he was a monster off the edge in 2019. This is a strong group that will give any team fits, especially with Coach Todd Bowles at the helm.
3. Atlanta Falcons
I rank the Falcons 3rd because there are lots of unknowns in regards to their defensive front. Outside of Grady Jarrett, there are wild cards upfront. Dimitroff and company were active in adding Dante Fowler, Jr. in free agency, but he has to prove that last year wasn’t a fluke. Takk McKinley has great potential, but he simply hasn’t put it all together yet. The Falcons also drafted Marlon Davison to help with the pass rush, but he’s sure to have some growing pains as a rookie. This is a unit that has the potential to be good, but they have to put it all together. It’s too early to be sure they’ll do that.
4. Carolina Panthers
I have the Panthers ranked last, but I have a feeling they won’t be there very long. This is a very young group. but there’s a massive amount of young talent on the defensive line. They drafted Brian Burns in 2019, and to go along with him, they snag Derrick Brown and Yetur Gross-Matos in the 2020 draft to complement Burns. Now this unit will indeed struggle coming out of the gate, but as the season progresses they’ll look better in regards to run defense as well as pass rush.
How would you rank these groups?