Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NFC South [Print without images]

Saturday, April 16, 2011
Hitting the NFC South hot spots

By Pat Yasinskas
ESPN.com

Time for a plunge into the NFC South mailbag to see what readers around the division are wondering about.

Adam in Morgantown, W. Va., asks whether the Panthers might trade first-round picks with the Eagles in a deal that would include Kevin Kolb.

Pat Yasinskas: That was the scenario I would have liked to see a few months ago, but I think it’s an extreme long shot now. Unless the lockout suddenly ends before the draft, there can be no trades involving current players, so there’s no way the Panthers can trade for Kolb. Besides, I think they’re pretty close to making the final decision to go ahead and draft a quarterback.


Santos in Anchorage, Alaska, wrote to ask if it’s possible the Saints draft somebody that’s not even being connected to them by the media or fans.

Pat Yasinskas: Yes, in the case of the Saints, that’s entirely possible. They have a history of not necessarily drafting for immediate need. As a general rule, they believe in taking the best player available. A lot of teams claim to do that but give in to needs in the end. The Saints have a history of actually following through and taking the guy they think is the best player available. Just look at last year, when they took cornerback Patrick Robinson. Cornerback wasn’t their biggest need. But Robinson was the best player on their board, so they took him.


Scott in Tampa asks if Aqib Talib was even considered when we did the Power Rankings on the cornerbacks.

Pat Yasinskas: Our Power Rankings on cornerbacks come out Tuesday. I’ll give you a little hint and tell you Talib wasn’t on my ballot. We’ll see what the other voters have to say, but I don’t think you’re going to see a lot of votes for him. He has great talent but has only been in the league for three seasons. His flashes of brilliance have been overshadowed by off-field incidents. If he didn’t have those incidents and wasn’t suspended or injured, he might have had a shot. But I can’t in good conscience say he’s been on the field enough and been consistent enough when he has played to be considered a top 10 cornerback. He can get there in the future, but he's not there yet.


Corey in Port Richey, Fla., asks what I meant when I said a lot of young Tampa Bay players might have played over the heads last year.

Pat Yasinskas: I wasn’t talking about receiver Mike Williams or running back LeGarrette Blount. I think it’s pretty obvious they had great rookie seasons and should continue to produce at high levels, as long as they don’t run into the same issues they had in college. This was more a reference to guys like safety Cody Grimm and some of the young offensive linemen. They played very well, but can they sustain it? Maybe, but maybe not. There were reasons they were late-round draft picks. If they sustain it, great, but nothing is guaranteed with guys like that. I think the Bucs need to continue upgrading their overall talent level.


Chris in Marietta, Ga., asks if the Falcons might trade up to draft Georgia receiver A.J. Green.

Pat Yasinskas: I’m sure that move would be a fan favorite and I’m sure the Falcons would love to land Green somehow. But I think that would be very difficult. He’s viewed as a top-five pick. The Falcons have the No. 27 overall pick, and it would be very difficult and costly to trade up to the top five. We might be talking several draft picks as the price. General manager Thomas Dimitroff can be very aggressive at times. But this is one where I think the price tag is simply too high.


Chris in North Carolina wrote to say that he noticed in the video interview with Jon Gruden that Cam Newton mentioned Josh Freeman, Drew Brees and Matt Ryan consecutively as guys he would like to compete against. Chris wonders if Newton already knows he’s going No. 1 to the Carolina Panthers.

Pat Yasinskas: I noticed the same thing when I watched the video. Does it mean Newton’s been told he’ll be the No. 1 pick? I doubt it. All indications are the Panthers have yet to make a firm decision on what they’re doing with the pick. Newton’s in the mix and he knows it, and I’m assuming he was just talking optimistically.