- Pat Yasinskas, ESPN Staff Writer
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The second round of the draft is shaping up to be a very quiet one for the NFC South.
But that’s only at the moment. As we saw in Thursday night’s wild first round, trades can shake things up in a hurry. The Buccaneers and Saints could find ways to trade into the second round, and there are no guarantees the Panthers and Falcons stay where they are.
If they do, Carolina has some decent options at No. 40.
Let’s take a look at the Insider list of Mel Kiper Jr.’s 10 best-available players. North Alabama cornerback Janoris Jenkins might be the most exciting name on there, and the Panthers could use some depth at cornerback. But this will only happen if the Panthers are comfortable with what they’ve seen from their homework on the issues Jenkins has off the field. There’s a perception the Panthers suddenly stopped caring about off-field matters in last year’s draft. That’s not the case at all. They were willing to draft Brandon Hogan in the fourth round, but that only happened after they did extensive homework and decided his off-field problems didn’t bring a big risk.
A lot of people thought the Panthers would go with a defensive tackle in the first round. They instead chose Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly. But I think there’s a chance the Panthers take another big body up front to allow Kuechly and the other linebackers to run free, and help cut down on the rash of linebacker injuries the Panthers have had recently. Michigan State’s Jerel Worthy and Cincinnati’s Derek Wolfe are on Kiper’s list. So is Penn State defensive tackle Devon Still, who many saw as a potential first-round pick.
I’m also looking at Kiper’s list and wondering if a couple of guys could still be around for Atlanta’s pick. Mississippi Bobby Massie and Stanford’s Jonathan Martin didn’t go in the first round. That means they’re not blue-chip prospects at left tackle. But they’re only a notch below that, and the Falcons need to get a left tackle to at least compete with Sam Baker in the short term, and possibly to replace him in the long term. Defensive line also seems to be a possibility for the Falcons.
The NFC South is a little short on third-round picks right now. The Bucs have the fifth pick in the third round. The Falcons have the 21st pick in the round, and the Saints finally join the draft with the 26th pick.