Ranking NFC South defensive players post-Free Agency

Where do the Buccaneers rank among NFC South defenses?

New Orleans Saints v Tampa Bay Buccaneers
New Orleans Saints v Tampa Bay Buccaneers / Julio Aguilar/GettyImages
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Safeties

1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Antoine Winfield Jr., Jordan Whitehead, Kaevon Merriweather
2. Atlanta Falcons - Jessie Bates III, DeMarco Hellams, Richie Grant, Micah Abernathy
3. New Orleans Saints - Tryann Mathieu, Jordan Howden, Jonathan Abram, J.T. Gray
4. Carolina Panthers - Jordan Fuller, Xavier Woods, Nick Scott, Jammie Robinson

Winfield is one of the two best safeties in the NFL. He is a gamewreaker that does everything on the football field. The Bucs bringing Whitehead back into the fold gives them a very strong 1-2 punch at the back of the defense.

Bates III was very good in his first season in Atlanta in 2023 as he lived up to his contract. He is one of the Falcons leaders on defense. Hellams is an oft overlooked player that can make a big play on occasion.

The Honey Badger is slowing down as he ages, but he is still very effective on his day in New Orleans. Howden and Abram are nice complementary pieces but they do not wow anyone.

Carolina could look at the draft for some upside talent at FS or SS because their current group leaves a little to be desired.

Cornerbacks

1. New Orleans Saints - Marshon Lattimore, Paulson Adebo, Alontae Taylor, Faion Hicks
2. Atlanta Falcons - AJ Terrell, Clark Phillips III, Mike Hughes, Natrone Brooks
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Jamel Dean, Zyon McCollum, Bryce Hall, Tavierre Thomas, Christian Izien
4. Carolina Panthers - Dane Jackson, Jaycee Horn, Troy Hill, AJ Parker

Latimore has had the NFC on lockdown for the majority of his career. He can still shut any top wideout down. Adebo really came on and proved he could be the Robin to Lattimore.

The Falcons group might have the most balance to it from top to bottom. Terrell is an outstanding cover corner that could be coming for Lattimore's throne as the best CB in the NFC South.

The Bucs losing Carlton Davis dropped them down in these rankings. However, Hall was a nice pickup and Dean is in his prime as an underrated stud on the outside. Lot of youth here that can grow.

The Panthers group has a lot of upside to it, however there are still too many valleys at this point in their careers.

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