NFC South: Dewayne White
But 2007 also was a memorable draft for the Buccaneers and Falcons -- for all the wrong reasons. In fact, I had to have a lengthy debate with myself on if Atlanta or Tampa Bay had the worst class in division history that year.
1. 2007 by Tampa Bay. As I debated the demerits of what Atlanta and Tampa Bay did in this draft, it really came down to the fact that the Bucs hit the trifecta with their first three picks. They took Gaines Adams, Arron Sears and Sabby Piscitelli. You can’t really argue with that. Adams was a non-factor before the Bucs traded him to Chicago, Sears couldn’t play last year because of personal issues and Piscitelli showed last year that he can’t play. Safety Tanard Jackson, a fourth-round pick, has been a bright spot, but not enough to pull the Bucs out of the top spot.
2. 2007 by Atlanta. When the Bucs took Adams, they passed over Jamaal Anderson and the Falcons pounced on him with the No. 8 overall pick. If you don’t hit on a top-10 pick, you’ve got a problem. The Falcons have gotten nothing out of Anderson. They did get a solid starter in guard Justin Blalock in the second round and fourth-round pick Stephen Nicholas became a starter at linebacker last year. But Bobby Petrino and Rich McKay also gave the Falcons cornerback Chris Houston in the second round and receiver Laurent Robinson in the third. Houston started a lot of games for the Falcons, but the current Atlanta regime was thrilled to trade him to Detroit this year. Robinson never came close to being a factor.
3. 2003 by Tampa Bay. Speaking of Petrino, he played a major role in building what almost was the third-worst draft class in NFC South history. I gave very strong consideration to Carolina’s class of 2005. Louisville products Eric Shelton and Stefan LeFors were tremendous busts. Atiyyah Ellison and Jovan Haye showed they can play in the league, but only after they left the Panthers. But I couldn’t quite put Carolina in this slot because first-round pick Thomas Davis has worked out. If you want to see a class that truly flopped from top to bottom look back at the 2003 Bucs. They were without a first-round pick because it was used to help get coach Jon Gruden out of Oakland. But the Bucs jumped in after that and gave you this collection of draft picks -- Dewayne White, Chris Simms, Lance Nimmo, Austin King, Sean Mahan and Torrie Cox. Sad part is Cox, the last pick of the bunch, probably did the most of this group.
Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas
Carolina Panthers vs. San Diego Chargers, 4:15 p.m. ET
In the Wofford College cafeteria this summer, Mike Trgovac saw me wearing a red baseball hat with "LT" on it and said, "Man, I used to like you. But now you're rubbing it in, too''.
The "LT'' on my hat was for Lackawanna Trail, my old high school in Pennsylvania, and a gift from my old baseball coach shortly before he died. I explained it to Trgovac, who smiled and said it was nice I still cared about my school.
"But I still think it's a sign or something,'' Trgovac said with a laugh. "Everywhere I look this summer, I see LT.''
That's the task facing Trgovac, Carolina's defensive coordinator. He's got plenty of tools with middle linebacker Jon Beason on the verge of becoming a star, defensive end Julius Peppers trying to become one again and a good group of complementary players.
But Tomlinson has tested many a defensive coordinator through the years. If Trgovac's summer of searching for the perfect scheme gave him an answer, he might stop seeing "LT'' everywhere he looks.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. New Orleans Saints, 1 p.m. ET
If I'd actually seen the real Tampa Bay Buccaneers in training camp or the preseason, it might be easier to have a gauge on this team. I spent about six days at camp and went to two preseason games and I still have no idea what the defending NFC South champions are going to look like.
That's largely because the Bucs haven't had a chance to be the Bucs. With Joey Galloway, Jeff Garcia, Jovan Haye and Cadillac Williams out just about the entire preseason and a bunch of other injured players in and out, it was hard to get a read on this team. I'm sure it was the same for coach Jon Gruden.
He's got Garcia, Haye and Galloway back now and all three should play Sunday. But you have to at least be concerned about rust on Galloway and Garcia. Sure, they're veterans, but they didn't play together at all in a preseason game.
Galloway has a long history of lighting up the Saints, who have made improvements to a horrendous secondary. But it's impossible to know if Galloway and Garcia are ready.Detroit Lions vs. Atlanta Falcons, 1 p.m. ET
If you never have heard of Dewayne White, you very well may before Sunday afternoon is over. He's the right defensive end for the Detroit Lions. He's a pretty ordinary guy, coming off a season in which he recorded a career-best 6.5 sacks.
But, with the retirement of Michael Strahan, White could become the next great pass rusher -- for one day, anyway. White is looking at what could be the luckiest draw of Week One. He'll be out there trying to sack rookie quarterback Matt Ryan in his debut.
More importantly, the only thing between White and Ryan will be rookie left tackle Sam Baker. After an up-and-down preseason, the Falcons are throwing in Baker to sink or swim. Baker is a massive tackle, but he's not known for his footwork and his technique is a little raw. Think Detroit coach Rod Marinelli, an old defensive line coach, might have spent a little extra time schooling White up for this matchup?
The Falcons had better give Baker lots of help from the tight ends and running backs or else the new face of the franchise (Ryan) could have a long day.