Five random thoughts

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

Lots of random thoughts running through my head as the draft approaches. Here are five of them.

1. Once the Buccaneers signed quarterback Byron Leftwich, I thought they were out of the market for Josh Freeman. Now, I'm hearing strong rumblings that's not necessarily the case. It looks like Freeman remains at least a possibility for the Bucs.

2. If the Bucs draft Freeman, there will be a trickle-down effect on the other quarterbacks. Leftwich and Luke McCown would stay. Veteran backup Brian Griese probably already is on the market for a trade and there's no way he'd stay if Freeman joins the club. I'm also having a tough time seeing how the Bucs could keep Josh Johnson, a fifth-round pick last year, if Freeman comes to Tampa Bay. Could the Bucs turn around and trade Johnson? It's possible, but I can't see them getting more than a seventh-round pick in return.

3. I've been fielding a lot of questions about NFC South teams trading down in the first round. I think that's a very viable option for the Saints, Bucs and Falcons. They really won't know what scenarios are available until they're on the clock, but the Saints and Bucs are short on draft picks because of previous trades and it makes sense to reload their cupboards. Sitting at No. 24, the Falcons are in prime territory to get some offers to trade down. They probably still could get a player they like if they drop down to late in the first or early in the second round.

4. I know the Panthers have needs on defense and there's no telling what will happen with Julius Peppers. But let's say they stay put at No. 59 and North Carolina receiver Hakeem Nicks still is sitting there. Would the Panthers, who have a history of success with players with ties to the Carolinas, be able to pass up a guy who could be a nice successor to Muhsin Muhammad?

5. Is it too early to call Atlanta general manager Thomas Dimitroff the best drafter in the NFC South? Maybe so. But, then again, Dimitroff got Matt Ryan, Sam Baker, Curtis Lofton, Harry Douglas and Chevis Jackson in last year's draft and they all have made significant contributions. Dimitroff hasn't had a swing and a miss -- yet.