Time for a plunge into the NFC South mailbag.
Rock in Slidell, LA writes: Since you are quarantined (joke) to the NFC South, thought you might like a little trivia. In 2002, when NFL realigned, it created a division, not on purpose, that housed the 4 teams with the worst all time winning percentage. (This is excluding the newly formed Texans). At the time the Bucs had the worst winning percentage, at .384, followed by the Falcons at .400, Saints at .401 and Panthers at .415. Since that time the NFC South has held its own going +6 over .500 over those last 8 years. The other divisions are as follows with a slight margin of error due to 2 ties. NFC East = 20, NFC North = -20, NFC West = -40, AFC South = 26, AFC East = 13, AFC West = -6 and AFC North is Even. You can see the discrepancy in that the AFC is 33 over the NFC during that span.
Pat Yasinskas: Great note, Rock. Thanks very much for sharing. Yes, the long-ago histories of the NFC South teams sure weren’t pretty. But that’s changed for the better in recent years. The Saints just won a Super Bowl. The Falcons had back-to-back winning seasons for the first time in franchise history. The Panthers have been to two NFC title games since the division started. Although the Bucs are struggling now, they won the Super Bowl in the first year of the NFC South. It’s a fun division and I’m thrilled I get to cover it.
Ed in Cape Coral, FL writes: You said again that Byron Leftwich has no trade value, but if Charlie Whitehurst (never even thrown a meaningful NFL pass) can garner a 3rd rd pick and Kevin Kolb (only 2 starts) is shopped for two first-round picks why can't Leftwich or even Josh Johnson get something in between?
Pat Yasinskas: At absolute best, the Bucs might be able to get a sixth- or seventh-round pick for Leftwich. But I think even that might be tough to pull off. Your points on Kolb and Whitehurst are taken, but the reason they have value is because they are younger and teams view them as quarterbacks who might ascend. Leftwich is 30 and has flopped as a starter several times. There’s no upside with him. Also, every team around the league knows the Bucs probably will cut Leftwich if they can’t trade him. So why give up a draft pick if you might be able to sign him as a free agent? Also, you mentioned Josh Johnson. If I were the Bucs, I’d hang onto him. Not saying he lit it up by any means, but I saw some positives when he played last year. I think he can be a decent backup to Josh Freeman.
Carlos in Panama City writes: Would the Bucs consider taking an offensive tackle early in the draft? I have grown weary of Jeremy Trueblood's false starts and mediocre production.
Pat Yasinskas: I don’t think you’ll see that happen in the first round. The Bucs have glaring needs at other spots and need to work on those. But I wouldn’t be totally surprised if the Bucs take a tackle sometime after the first round. Their offensive line was supposed to be an area of strength last year, but it underachieved. Could be time for some changes.
Jeff in Atlanta writes: Do you see Harry Douglas coming back and having a breakout season? I know he's anxious to come back and produce, especially because he sat out all year in 09. Do you think that his year off will help or hurt his development?
Pat Yasinskas: Thomas Dimitroff told me the other day at the owners meeting that Douglas is doing well in his rehab and is expected to be at full health in time for the start of the season. I see no reason why he can’t have a big impact this year. The Falcons were really excited about him after he showed so much promise as a rookie and had big plans for him before he got hurt in training camp last year. I know Douglas a little bit and he’s a very competitive and positive guy. I’m sure he’s working hard to get healthy and I think you’ll see a good amount of him in the upcoming season.
Ryan in LaCross, WI writes: There is a lot of talk about Carolina and Tim Tebow, but it’s always focused around him coming in as a QB. What if Carolina is looking at him as a TE/H-back roll?
Pat Yasinskas: I’d be in favor of Tebow in that situation. But I think he’s made it pretty obvious he is intent on giving it a try at quarterback and I think there are some teams out there that will give him a chance. I know a lot of Carolina fans think the Panthers may take Tebow in the second round as a quarterback. I really don’t think that’s going to happen.