NFC South: Justin Pugh

For the past month or so, the universal opinion in mock drafts seemed to be that the Carolina Panthers would take defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson in the first round, the New Orleans Saints would take a defensive player and the Atlanta Falcons would get a cornerback or a pass-rusher.

But it seems like those opinions have shifted a bit in some of the mock drafts I’ve been seeing in recent days. The latest example of that comes in this seven-round mock draftInsider from our friends at Scouts Inc.

You have to have an Insider subscription to see the whole thing, but I’ll share the NFC South picks for the first two rounds.

Carolina Panthers

First round: Star Lotulelei, defensive tackle, Utah

Second round: Blidi Wreh-Wilson, cornerback, Connecticut

My take: This would be a coup for the Panthers because they would get two plug-in starters. But the key to this scenario is whether or not Lotulelei still is available at No. 14.

New Orleans Saints

First round: D.J. Fluker, offensive tackle, Alabama

Second round: Pick was forfeited as part of the bounty punishment

My take: I think Fluker’s more of a right tackle and the Saints need help at left tackle. I’d be shocked if the Saints go this route. After putting a horrible defense on the field last season, I think they need to use their top pick on that side of the ball.

Atlanta Falcons

First round: Justin Pugh, offensive lineman, Syracuse

Second round: Gavin Escobar, tight end, San Diego State

My take: I like the Escobar pick a lot. Escobar could spend his rookie season taking lessons from Tony Gonzalez and then replace him. I’m not sold on the Pugh pick. The Falcons have some young offensive linemen that can compete for the right tackle spot. They have a much bigger need at cornerback.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

First round: Pick was dealt as part of the trade for Darrelle Revis

Second round: Kawann Short, defensive tackle, Purdue

My take: The Bucs firmed up their secondary by adding Revis. Adding Short to a defensive line with a lot of young talent could make the Bucs special in this area.

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