The BEST NFL draft picks since 1980, for the NFC South teams – Part I

Wicks and I decided to work on an article together, to bring you both of our insights and humor (hopefully).  After much discussion, we decided to pick what we thought was the best draft pick, since 1980, for each NFL team.  This turned out to be a YUGE article so we decided to release a division each day for the next 8 days.  Today we bring you:

NFC South

Atlanta Falcons:

Catt:

For me, there is a clear choice…. The Falcons’ first-round pick in 1989, Deion Sanders.  With a nickname like “Showtime”, how can you go wrong? In the early 90’s, He was the reason to watch the Falcons games.  During his time in Atlanta, he had 24 Ints, 3 defensive TDs, 3 kick return TDs, 2 punt return TDs, and 2 receiving TDs. He is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame along with the College Football Hall of Fame. Runners Up: Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, and Brett Favre (since he only made 4 pass attempts for them).

Wicks:

Tony Gonzalez (TE) – Drafted 13th overall in the 1997 draft out of Cal, Gonzalez also known for his skills as a basketball player quickly became one of the greatest tight ends in football.  He finished his career in Kansas City and holds over 20 single season and all-time NFL records to include; career receptions, career yards, and career touchdowns for a tight end.

Carolina Panthers:

Catt:

One name… Luke Kuechly.  Kuechly is a prototypical linebacker.  He was drafted in the 1st round of the 2012 draft.  Luke was the Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2012, where he led the NFL in tackles (164).  In 2013, he also won the Defensive Player of the Year and his first Pro Bowl selection.  He has played in 4 Pro Bowls and won the Butkus Award (twice) Runner Up: Cam Newton.

Wicks:

Luke Kuechly (MLB) – Drafted 9th overall in 2012 out of Boston College, Kuechly has quickly become one of the best linebackers in football.  He has been to 4 Pro Bowl’s, selected to 3 First-Team All-Pro teams, twice awarded the Butkus Award and collected an NFL Defensive Rookie and Defensive Player of the year honors.  Can’t get much better than that considering the Carolina Panthers joined the league in 1995 (Kuechly was only 4 years old).

New Orleans Saints:

Catt:

It’s strange when your best draft pick since 1980, is a kicker.  Morten Anderson was taken in the 4th round of the 1982 draft.  Anderson played 25 seasons in the NFL and holds the following NFL records: 2,544 points scored, 565 field goals made, 709 field goals attempted, and 382 games played. He also was a 7× Pro Bowler (1985–1988, 1990, 1992, 1995), and named to both the 1980s and 1990s All-Decade Teams. Runners Up: Willie Roaf and Jimmy Graham.

Wicks:

Willie Roaf (OT) – Nicknamed “Nasty”, Willie was drafted with the 8th overall selection in 1993 out of Louisiana Tech University.  He spent 9 seasons the Saints and his remaining 4 seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs.  Roaf has been selected to 11 Pro Bowls, 6-time First-Team All-Pro, and 1990’s and 2000’s All-Decade Team.  He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in February 2012.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers:

Catt:

Out of the two players that I’m deciding between here, Derrick Brooks was selected 10 picks behind Warren Sapp.  Brooks became the anchor at outside linebacker for Tampa Bay and would play there for 14 seasons.  Super Bowl champion (XXXVII), 11× Pro Bowl (1997–2006, 2008), 9× All-Pro (1997–2005), Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year (2000), NFL Defensive Player of the Year (2002), NFL 2000s All-Decade Team, Tampa Bay Buccaneers Ring of Honor, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers No. 55 retired. Runners Up: Warren Sapp and Mike Alstott (just because he is a favorite of mine).

Wicks:

Warren Sapp (DT/DE) – Selected 12th overall in 1995 out of Miami, Sapp played 9 seasons with the Buccaneers acquiring a Super Bowl ring during that time and finished his remaining 4 seasons with the Oakland Raiders.  Sapp collected 573 tackles, 96.5 sacks, and 19 forced fumbles while compiling 7 Pro Bowls, 4 AP First-Team All-Pro, AP NFL Defensive Player of the year and 1990’s and 2000’s All-Decade Team.  Warren also had his #99 jersey retired out of Tampa Bay and in 2013 was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

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