The NFC South gave us one of the most exciting division races in 2017 and a lot of incredibly exciting rookies. From Rookie(s) of the Year Alvin Kamara and Marshon Lattimore with the Saints to Christian McCaffrey with the Panthers, there were a lot of exciting rookies in the division. Chris Godwin and O.J Howard with the Buccaneers showed flashes in their rookie season as well. Who might be this year’s Lattimore or Kamara?
New Orleans Saints
If you haven’t read any other installments of this series, we’re trying to stay away from most of the first round draft picks, but Davenport is too important to the Saints in the present and the future. The Saints traded up for the edge rusher out UTSA and gave up their first-round pick in 2019 to get him. That being said, the trade immediately makes him more important than almost any other rookie. The Saints are gambling their future on Davenport. Pairing him with Cam Jordan has the potential to be a lethal combination. Davenport had a minor thumb surgery, but the Saints expect him to be ready for training camp.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The second round running back out of USC is going to come into the year with high expectations. Some scouts put a first round grade on him coming out of college, and he’ll most likely come into the year as the team’s number one running back. With Jameis Winston now serving a three-game suspension, the Bucs might lean heavily on their run game over the first three games. Winston has also thrown 44 career interceptions in just three seasons, so a running game might be a huge help for him and the rest of the offense, no matter how talented the receivers are. Jones is also a great option to catch the ball out of the backfield, which will give him added value not only for Winston but for fantasy owners too.
Thomas was a sleeper name before the draft before Daniel Jeremiah picked him as a sleeper to be picked at the end of the first round. Clearly, that didn’t happen but the Panthers might end up relying on him a lot this season. Greg Olsen might be nearing the end of his career, after fracturing his foot last season. If Olsen can’t stay healthy again this year, Thomas might see the field a lot sooner than expected after backup tight end Ed Dickson moved on to the Seattle Seahawks. The Panthers used a lot of two tight end sets in 2017, and that could continue in 2018.
Oliver’s stock was one of many that were hurt by the run on quarterbacks in the first round. He’s the best man coverage corner in the draft, and on the other side of Desmond Trufant, one of the best corners in the NFL, he’ll be tested early and often by opposing quarterbacks. He has an insanely long wingspan that will help him defend some of the bigger receivers in his division like Mike Evans and Devin Funchess. Oliver is the perfect fit for Dan Quinn’s defense. He could be a sleeper pick for Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2018.