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2023 NFL Draft Wish List: NFC South

NFL Fantasy



Even with Tom Brady in Tampa Bay last year, the NFC South was up for grabs. Now with Brady retired, the division crown is even more obtainable. Holding the first overall selection, Carolina is the talk of the draft right now, but let’s break down this entire division. 


By the time the NFL Draft starts April 27, we’ll have touched on every team around the league. Here’s the schedule for our Draft Wish List series:

2023 NFL Draft Wish List: NFC South

Carolina Panthers

  • First pick: 1st round, 1st overall
  • Total first-rounders: 1
  • Total selections: 6

After an exciting trade with the Chicago Bears last month, the Panthers are now on the clock, and it really just comes down to which quarterback they will select. Apparently quarterback coach Josh McCown loves CJ Stroud and it sounds like he could be the favorite to go first overall, but it is truly still up in the air. Stroud is incredibly accurate with the football and possesses tremendous touch, though his arm strength takes a noticeable hit when he is on the move, which he hesitates to do. Bryce Young, meanwhile, obviously has size concerns but makes a ton of plays, can escape the pocket and is also incredibly accurate. And unlike in years past, Alabama’s skill position players really weren’t anything to write home about, making his production even more impressive. Regardless, Carolina will have a new franchise signal caller starting this season and it will be fun to watch, especially in Frank Reich’s system. 

Outside of the obvious need at quarterback, the Panthers could use some more talent on the defensive line. Brian Burns is a borderline elite pass-rushing player when on the field, but the Panthers were still below average in terms of pressure rate last season. In the second round at 39th overall, Carolina should be looking at B.J. Ojulari, who recorded over 100 pressures and 17 sacks over the last two seasons at LSU. He won’t win very often with power, but rather speed, bend and a quick get-off. If Ojulari is off the board, Carolina can shift their attention towards the ultra-athletic Adetomiwa Adebawore, who has 4.49 speed at 6-foot-2 and 280 pounds. 

Finally, wide receiver has to be addressed at some point for the Panthers. Of course, DJ Moore was sent to the Bears as part of the massive trade — Carolina did sign Adam Thielen and DJ Chark, they still should be looking at the wideout position. Chark signed to just a one-year deal and while Thielen agreed to a three-year deal, he’s 32 years old, his play is on the decline and the Panthers have a potential out after the 2024 campaign. At this point, I doubt he is there but if he is, Cedric Tillman has to be the selection. Tillman is my WR5 in this class and while his 2022 production wasn’t there, he was dealing with a high-ankle sprain. In 2021, Tillman was elite, as he absolutely torched Alabama and Georgia during that season to the tune of 7-152-1 and 10-200-1. He finished that 2021 campaign with 64 catches for 1,081 yards. Tillman plays with incredible physicality, often attacking the football. When I watch him play, I notice that he doesn’t let the football come to him, but rather goes after the football. He is very different from many of the receivers in this class, as Tillman wins with physicality, size, catch radius and ball skills, rather than suddenness, release and quickness. He is very good at positioning himself to get the best opportunity to come down with the football and while it is cliche, 50/50 balls feel more like 60/40 when it comes to Tillman. 

If Tillman is off the board, I like the idea of pivoting to Michigan State’s Jayden Reed, a versatile wideout with an impressive release and plus route-running ability. Reed reminds me a lot of Emmanuel Sanders.


Atlanta Falcons

  • First pick: 1st round, 8th overall
  • Total first-rounders: 1
  • Total selections: 8

The Falcons could go multiple directions at eighth overall. Defensive back made sense for a while, but the team just traded for Jeff Okudah, who is a perfect fit in Ryan Nielsen’s man-heavy defensive scheme. It is entirely possible that the Falcons, even after selecting Drake London eighth overall a season ago, could still be the first team to select a wideout this year. Jaxon Smith-Njigba would be an absolutely perfect complement to both London and tight end Kyle Pitts. JSN could just dominate in the middle, intermediate areas of the field, while London and Pitts stretch the defense and make contested catches. 

I also think this is the earliest we could see Bijan Robinson come off the board. It is tough because I absolutely love what Tyler Allgeier did for this team last year, as the Falcons were actually one of the most efficient rushing offenses in all of football. However, I cannot get over how fun Robinson could be in this zone rushing scheme that has an offensive line that absolutely mauls opposing defenses. Only the Bears sported a higher neutral script rush rate than the Falcons last year (55.6%), so you know Arthur Smith wants to continue running the football. Having Robinson and Allgeier could be really, really fun.

Of course, if the Falcons do what they have done all offseason and continue to address defense, edge has to be the move. Atlanta has been a popular landing spot for Texas Tech’s Tyree Wilson, who has a massive frame at 6-foot-6, 271 pounds. His hurries increased every season, while posting an impressive 10 sacks this past season. No team in football sported a worse pressure rate than the Falcons last season (14.6%), which would make Wilson the ideal first-round selection for this franchise.

Assuming Atlanta doesn’t draft a wideout in the first round, they will have to add more talent there at some point. After London on the depth chart, the Falcons have Mack Hollins, Scott Miller and Frank Darby at the position. While I am lower on him than others, I’d love Jalin Hyatt if he falls to 44th overall. His ability to run tremendous vertical routes would fit well in an offense that uses the run to set up deep play-action shots. If Hyatt isn’t available, Rashee Rice, Marvin Mims and Tank Dell should be on Atlanta’s radar. 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • First pick: 1st round, 19th overall
  • Total first-rounders: 1
  • Total selections: 9

Early on in the draft process, it seemed likely that Will Levis would come off the board within the first 10 selections. However, it is starting to feel like he could be there for the Bucs at 19th overall — if that is the case, I feel like that has to be the selection. In case you are living under a rock, Tom Brady retired (again), leaving Baker Mayfield and Kyle Trask to compete for the starting quarterback job. Levis has video game arm strength and can make impressive plays when under pressure. However, he is inconsistent when going through progressions, while his footwork is unbelievably spotty, which has a lot to do with his accuracy issues. Still, this should be the selection for Tampa Bay if he is there and his ability and willingness to throw the football down the field could be good for Mike Evans. If it isn’t Levis at 19th overall, I like Anton Harrison, who would immediately give this team an upgrade at left tackle over Brandon Walton, who has just 231 career snaps on the offensive line.

I also think the Bucs should add to their backfield in this draft. They don’t have a selection in the fourth round, so it would likely come in Round 3 at 82nd overall or with one of their 5th round selections. Leonard Fournette is gone, leaving Tampa Bay with sophomore Rachaad White and Chase Edmonds atop the depth chart. White is a borderline elite pass-catching running back but, like Fournette, was wildly inefficient running the football. Roschon Johnson visited with Tampa Bay and would be an ideal player to add to this roster. He has plenty of experience playing in an offense that used two running backs, while his strengths in pass protection will be very, very enticing for coaching staffs and quarterbacks. 


New Orleans Saints

  • First pick: 1st round, 29th overall
  • Total first-rounders: 1
  • Total selections: 8

The Saints are one of the more difficult teams to project ahead of the draft. To me, the most pressing need is interior defensive line and at 29th overall, that could put the Saints in position to select Mazi Smith, who is an unbelievably strong player who also managed to play a lot of snaps each week for the Michigan Wolverines. New Orleans should also look to the center position in the later rounds, as the lone center listed on the depth chart right now is Erik McCoy. John Michael Schmitz, Luke Wypler and Joe Tippmann should all be available for the Saints at 40th overall in Round 2, though it is also possible one of the centers falls to early Round 3. 

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