NFC South Notes: Bucs, Saints, Panthers

Former Buccaneers GM Mark Dominik may prefer Marcus Mariota to Jameis Winston with the first overall pick in this year’s draft, but Dominik won’t be involved in that decision. On the other hand, head coach Lovie Smith will have significant input in making that call, and according to Pat Yasinskas of, early indications are that Smith likes Winston more than Mariota.

Yasinskas writes that, from what he has gathered, Tampa Bay chose Dirk Koetter over Marc Trestman as the team’s new offensive coordinator in part because Trestman preferred Mariota to Winston. Of course, there’s still plenty of time for Smith to change his mind on the draft’s top two quarterbacks, with the combine, pro days, and individual interviews still on tap, and he won’t be the only person making the decision on that No. 1 pick. But for now, it looks like Winston could be the early favorite.

Here’s more on the Bucs and a couple of their division rivals:

  • Mel Kiper of agrees with Yasinskas’ assessment, and has Winston going first overall to the Buccaneers in his latest mock draft (Insider link). As Kiper explains, he expects the Bucs to take a close look at Mariota, but he believes Tampa Bay will ultimately opt for Winston if their questions about his past off-field behavior are answered to the team’s satisfaction.
  • The Saints have officially announced their complete 2015 coaching staff, including new additions like senior defensive assistant Dennis Allen and wide receivers coach John Morton. Larry Holder of the New Orleans Times-Picayune takes a closer look at the new additions, and at Allen in particular — he expects the former Raiders head coach will “undoubtedly place his mark” on Rob Ryan’s defense.
  • The Panthers confirmed a previously-reported hiring today, announcing in a press release that Cameron Turner has joined the club’s staff, and will assist Ricky Proehl in working with Carolina’s receivers.
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