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NFL Scouts Talk Anonymously About NFC South Teams

Sean Payton, Taysom Hill and Jameis Winston, New Orleans Saints

With Brees Brees retired, New Orleans head coach Sean Payton will turn the offense over to quarterbacks Taysom Hill and Jameis Winston as the Saints look to stay competitive in the NFC South

The NFC South is home to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the defending Super Bowl champions. And while Tom Brady is still going strong at 44 years old and Atlanta still has Matt Ryan (36) under center, the rest of the division is hitting the reset button at quarterback. New Orleans enters the post-Drew Brees era with some combination of Taysom Hill and Jameis Winston expected to run the offense while Carolina is hoping that a change of scenery will help Sam Darnold, the third overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft, fully unlock his potential after acquiring him in a trade with the Jets. But it's not just the stability under center that makes the Buccaneers a strong candidate to win back-to-back Super Bowls.

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In order to get an accurate assessment of the NFC South heading into 2021, Athlon asked NFL scouts to talk anonymously about the Falcons, Panthers, Saints and Buccaneers.

Note: These scouting reports come directly from NFL scouts and do not necessarily reflect the views of Athlon's editorial staff.

Atlanta Falcons

"I like this team, actually. I’m a little nervous about the offensive line. Jake Matthews is still a good left tackle."

"Matt Ryan is still an awfully good quarterback, even if he’s not a true superstar anymore."

"Calvin Ridley is a legit young receiver."

"Kyle Pitts is one of the best offensive players I’ve ever evaluated."

"Mike Davis may not be a flashy guy, but he’s capable of getting a lot of yards and catching the ball out of the backfield."

"I think this offense is going to score a lot of points. They’ll be OK even if they do trade Julio Jones, but it would be a hit. For some reason, I think they’re going to find a way to keep him. I think they should keep Julio."

Note: Scouting report was filed before Atlanta traded Julio Jones to Tennessee on June 6.

Related: Atlanta Falcons Depth Chart

"Defensively, I love Grady Jarrett. He’s an undersized interior force, but he’s getting up there in years. Undersized guys like him tend to wear out. Tyeler Davison is tough, competitive, a perfect match to play next to Jarrett. Their defensive line has potential, but they need more talent. It’s going in the right direction."

"I like some of their guys at linebacker and in the secondary. A.J. Terrell has some traits of a shutdown corner, but he needs to keep maturing and learning."

"I want to see Richie Grant. I think he’s a starter this year."

"Their defense is a work in progress. It’s a good thing they have one of the top-scoring offenses."

Carolina Panthers

"If Sam Darnold turns it around, this will be the second quarterback that Adam Gase coached as a rookie who becomes a really good quarterback with another franchise."

"I like P.J. Walker as a backup. He killed it in the XFL."

"Will Grier, for a third-stringer, is a smart, accurate kid, but doesn’t have a big arm."

"DJ Moore and Robby Anderson are a really good receiver tandem."

"I have some real questions about their offensive line. They have a lot of young, unproven guys. If they can put together enough bodies and cohesion to provide protection for Darnold, having a weapon like Christian McCaffrey makes them better. He can avoid guys. He can catch a ton of passes out of the backfield."

Related: Carolina Panthers Depth Chart

"I like their defense, I really do. Brian Burns is an undersized guy, but he’s twitchy, and he comes off the corner hard and fast."

"Bravvion Roy has the potential to be a good quality starter. Derrick Brown, he’s just a beast."

"Shaq Thompson is a really good all-around linebacker."

"Denzel Perryman is not a great athlete, but he is a physical, violent interior guy who plays with a chip on his shoulder."

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"Haason Reddick is a very intriguing guy who can go get the quarterback. He’s the X-factor. The way he can impact the defense, the way he flashed, he could take the defense from a good, solid unit to an elite unit."

"I like them in the back end. Jeremy Chinn had a great rookie year. Donte Jackson is developing. Jaycee Horn should be able to shut down guys. He’s going to be hard to beat."

New Orleans Saints

"I think they want Taysom Hill to win the job. I don’t know what’s going to happen. Taysom is the better athlete compared to Jameis Winston, but he’s never been a proven, consistent thrower. Jameis makes so many mistakes it’s a tough call. Ian Book is a very athletic kid. I could see him being the guy who takes over in two years."

"They’ve got a ton of talent at receiver. Michael Thomas is a special receiver."

"That offensive line, that’s a very good five across the line. Especially Terron Armstead."

"They have a loaded backfield with Alvin Kamara and Latavius Murray."

"Payton Turner was an interesting draft pick. He’s sort of what Marcus Davenport is like, an athlete who’s never put it all together on the field."

Related: New Orleans Saints Depth Chart

"Cameron Jordan is the real deal."

"I like their linebackers. Demario Davis is what you want at the position. Zach Baun is a really good linebacker. I could see Pete Werner starting or playing a lot right away."

"Their secondary is loaded. They have so many good players, especially Marshon Lattimore. He can stop anyone."

"If Davenport and Turner step up, this goes from a good to potentially an elite defense."

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

"Elite team, and it’s amazing the difference a great coach can make on a team. This is a team that wasn’t particularly good two or three years ago, but head coach Bruce Arians and defensive coordinator Todd Bowles have made this a special team."

"Tom Brady is obviously a great quarterback. And the supporting cast around him enables him to be great. He has outstanding receivers in Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown and a tight end he can count on in Rob Gronkowski along with O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate."

"Tristan Wirfs was the best rookie offensive lineman last year. Ali Marpet is a really good left guard, and Donovan Smith is above average at left tackle."

"I thought Kyle Trask was a great value where they got him."

"I love their backfield with Ronald Jones II and Leonard Fournette. That’s a great 1-2 combo. That offense will be very hard to slow down."

Related: Tampa Bay Buccaneers Depth Chart

"Defensively, it’s really good. They have so many different guys in terms of style of play. Ndamukong Suh and Vita Vea are physically powerful athletes. They just dominate."

"Jason Pierre-Paul is twitchy. He beats people with his athleticism."

"Devin White is a rare athlete."

"Lavonte David is a warrior."

"Shaquil Barrett is an undersized pass rusher with a real feel for pass rushing."

"Their secondary has a lot of guys who know how to play the game. Their whole defense plays with an attitude. They’re not intimidated."

"Joe Tryon, the rookie linebacker out of Washington, I could see him taking a starting job."