Jared Kirksey

NFC South Notes: Saints, Panthers, Bucs

After trading down twice in Round 2, the Panthers planned to select BYU tackle Brady Christensen at No. 60 and add LSU wideout Terrace Marshall Jr. with a subsequent trade-up shortly after. However, the Saints eyed Marshall at No. 60, Darin Gantt of Panthers.com notes, prompting the Panthers to change course and select Marshall earlier than initially planned. Carolina drafted Marshall at No. 59, reuniting him with offensive coordinator Joe Brady. The Saints then took Ohio State linebacker Pete Werner at 60. Marshall, who now joins Panthers vets D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson, played a key role for LSU’s national championship team alongside Justin Jefferson and Ja’Marr Chase and last season after those future first-rounders left. He totaled 23 touchdown grabs from 2019-20. New Orleans cut No. 2 receiver Emmanuel Sanders this offseason and has been unable to find a steady complement for Michael Thomas for a few years. The team still has Tre’Quan Smith, who is entering a contract year, and used a seventh-round pick on a wideout (South Alabama’s Kawann Baker). The Panthers ended up getting Christensen at No. 70, trading up three spots to land him.

Here is the latest from the NFC South:

  • Prior to the Bears trading up to No. 11 and selecting Justin Fields, they called the Panthers about the No. 8 choice, Gantt adds. While the Panthers discussed trading down with a few teams before the draft, the Bears called during Round 1. Carolina ultimately decided moving down 12 spots, to Chicago’s No. 20 slot, was too much. The Panthers selected cornerback Jaycee Horn in Round 1. The Broncos aided the Bears’ quarterback quest a pick later, taking Patrick Surtain II over Fields.
  • This draft profiled as one of the weakest for defensive tackles in recent memory, and the class ended up influencing the Buccaneers to retain veterans at the position. While the Super Bowl champions completed a stunning effort of keeping their team together, GM Jason Licht said (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Jenna Laine) the thin D-tackle class moved the team to re-sign Ndamukong Suh, Steve McLendon and Rakeem Nunez-Roches earlier this offseason. The Bucs did not draft a defensive tackle this year.
  • The Saints are reuniting with C.J. Leak, a staffer who once worked as their Combine scout. The Texans dismissed Leak as their assistant director of pro personnel in February, but veteran NFL reporter Aaron Wilson tweets Leak will return to the Saints. Houston hired Leak in 2018. Leak previously spent two years with New Orleans.
  • Staying on the scouting subject, the Panthers are adding Jared Kirksey to their scouting staff, Neil Stratton of InsideTheLeague.com tweets. Kirksey was previously on the Jaguars’ staff and has previously worked as a Bucs and Texans scout.