Ranking the NFC South position groups rolls on, this time diving into the cornerback rankings around the division. Arguably the weakest starting cornerback rooms in the NFL reside in the South, as just one standout player at the position exists in the entire division. The Bucs have more promise in their group than any other team in the South, but there are still question marks for their inexperienced trio.

Here’s the other rankings of the divisional position groups that have been completed so far:

Quarterbacks
Wide Receivers
Running Backs
Offensive Lines
Edge Defenders
Interior Defensive Linemen
Linebackers


4. Carolina Panthers

Eli Apple
Donte Jackson
Troy Pride
Corn Elder
Stanley Thomas-Oliver

The Panthers have one of the worst cornerback rooms in the entire league, including two players that appear headed toward bust status in Apple and Jackson. Already on his third NFL team entering his fifth season, Apple has been a massive disappointment since being the 10th overall pick in 2016, surrendering catches constantly while making very few splash plays and committing a host of penalties.

Panthers CB Donte Jackson - Photo by: Mary Holt/PR

Panthers CB Donte Jackson – Photo by: Mary Holt/PR

Jackson admittedly holds more promise entering just his third season, but it has been more downs than ups for the LSU product over his first two years in the NFL. The Panthers hope Pride, their fourth-round pick, is able to beat out one of Apple or Jackson for a starting spot, but he’d have to really struggle not to at least see the field in nickel packages. Carolina simply doesn’t have anyone else they can rely on for snaps. This unit is going to get shredded in the NFC South this season.

3. Atlanta Falcons

Isaiah Oliver
A.J. Terrell
Kendall Sheffield
Blidi Wreh-Wilson
Jordan Miller

If you put the Falcons fourth place instead of the Panthers I wouldn’t bat an eye, as they also field one of the worst secondaries in the entire NFL. Oliver enters a make-or-break season after struggling through most of his first two campaigns, while Terrell might be handed a starting spot despite being a rookie, replacing Robert Alford.

Falcons CB A.J. Terrell

Falcons CB A.J. Terrell – Photo courtesy of Clemson

I have high hopes for Terrell however, and Sheffield has always possessed good upside even if his rookie year was ugly. The Falcons’ cornerback group has a little more room for growth and hope than the Panthers’ room, but these might be the bottom two corner depth charts in the NFL. In a division that is absolutely loaded with talent at wide receiver, that’s bad news for Carolina.

2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Carlton Davis
Jamel Dean
Sean Murphy-Bunting
M.J. Stewart
Ryan Smith
Parnell Motley
Mazzi Wilkins

The Bucs could seize the top spot after this upcoming season, but we need to see more of Dean and Murphy-Bunting before we give them first place. Still, the team has to feel more excited about their top three cornerbacks than any team in the division, as Davis took a step forward last year and Dean closed out the final stretch of the season playing out of his mind.

Bucs CB Sean Murphy-Bunting

Bucs CB Sean Murphy-Bunting – Photo by: Getty Images

If those three can keep growing together in 2020, they will provide the Bucs with a huge advantage in a division with elite wide receiver play and below-average cornerback play. After that trio, it gets ugly fast though. Stewart hasn’t looked like a roster-able player through two seasons, and Smith is just a special teamer. The Bucs haven’t went to the veteran well for cornerback help at all this offseason, which suggests they are confident in their three young guns becoming quality starters in time.

1. New Orleans Saints

Marshon Lattimore
Janoris Jenkins
P.J. Williams
Patrick Robinson
Johnson Bademosi

Bucs WR Mike Evans and Saints CB Marshon Lattimore

Bucs WR Mike Evans and Saints CB Marshon Lattimore – Photo by: Getty Images

Lattimore has been a lockdown starter for the team since entering the league, but like all No. 1 cornerbacks, there are ups and downs with consistently facing top-tier wide receivers. Still, Lattimore has the on-field resume of a top five corner in the NFL, which is the only thing saving the Saints cornerback group from a much worse ranking.

Jenkins has always been up and down, but it appears his best days are solidly behind him at 31 years old. Williams and Robinson are average on their best days, and they didn’t have many of those last season. The Saints cornerback room as a whole is just okay, but if they lose Lattimore things could get ugly fast.

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About the Author: Jon Ledyard

Jon Ledyard is PewterReport.com's newest Bucs beat writer and has experience covering the Pittsburgh Steelers as a beat writer and analyzing the NFL Draft for several draft websites, including The Draft Network. Follow Ledyard on Twitter at @LedyardNFLDraft
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BigSombrero
1 year ago

I think Dean has the potential to be the best corner on the team. I really like how he bounced back last season after a tough first game. Davis looks the part and doesn’t miss many assignments, he just needs to get interceptions. Murphy-Bunting has a seriousness about him and I think he has great potential in the slot cb role.

I really think this unit has the chance to be the best in the division and maybe the conference. They just need to keep working at it.

Captain Sly
1 year ago

I agree however I’m going to one up you. I think the Bucs have the best CB room as a whole in our Division… Lattimore is a far more accomplished CB than Davis but after that J Dean over Janoris Jenkins and SMB over Patrick Robinson easily….
The Bucs have a lot of raw talent in the secondary and they’re only going to get better. Bucs All Day!!

Last edited 1 year ago by Captain Sly
Dave
1 year ago

This is definitely one of the easiest position groups in the division to rank. I think the rankings are fairly clear. Although between us and the Saints, if our corners pick up where they left off last year, this could be flipped going into next season. To me, the X factor is Janoris Jenkins. I think he’s way more talented than his stats and grades over the last few years suggest. It just flat out wasn’t working for him in NY. A change of scenery and a new defensive scheme should do him a lot of good. Plus, now he’s… Read more »

Spitfire
Reply to  Dave
1 year ago

The real X-Factor is all 3 of our starting Corners. Davis has put in the work to at worst become one of the best #2 Corners in the league if Dean ends up killing it like
He did last year, and if Bunting grows in the right direction he could be the best Slot Corner. There’s a solid chance our biggest worries with our Corners is how many of them we can afford to keep years from now.

Dave
Reply to  Spitfire
1 year ago

Yeah I agree. SMB to me is the other X factor in that. Because he was more down than up last year. The talent is there. If he can make a big stride, that’ll also close the gap a little quicker. It’ll be interesting to see

IDGABuc
Reply to  Dave
1 year ago

SMB also led all rookies with 3 INT’s. Possibly in a tie.. And Dean was in 2nd or tied for rookie INT’s w/ plus one of the best in PBU’s with little playing time or starts compared to the rest. SMB may be more of an outside guy too from some of what we saw but he is a smart guy and pretty athletic and may be able to make it work either way! SMB had one clutch GW INT and I think at least one of the others definitely helped secure the win. That was SMB in Detroit, helping… Read more »

seat26
1 year ago

We have a strong group in the first 3. If they stay healthy, this will be a bright spot for the team, assuming there is a season.