Around the NFC South

Let’s take an afternoon trip through some headlines around the NFC South.

Ira Kaufman, who long ago mastered the art of stirring the pot, grabs onto the speculation about Steve Smith’s future in Carolina and wonders if the receiver could be a fit in Tampa Bay. Kaufman does a good job of hitting the pros and cons of such a trade. I wouldn’t totally rule it out, but I think, even if Smith is traded, it’s a real long shot the Panthers would send him to someone within the NFC South.

In this radio interview, Carolina quarterback Jimmy Clausen reflected on his rough rookie year. Hey, at least it looks like Clausen learned one thing from former coach John Fox. The quarterback did a fine job of not really saying much.

Speaking of Carolina and quarterbacks, Mel Kiper’s got rankings on some of the quarterbacks who could be available for trade. Carolina fans, I’d pay close attention to this one because I think your next quarterback comes from a trade or free agency, not the draft.

General manager Mark Dominik doesn’t like it when people say the Buccaneers took shortcuts on character issues last year to get receiver Mike Williams and running back LeGarrette Blount. I think he’s got a point. If the Bucs were taking shortcuts on character, they wouldn’t have done so much homework and they would have drafted Williams long before the fourth round and would have taken Blount so that he didn’t have to enter the league as an undrafted free agent. If you get a guy who has some stuff in his background and he produces on the field and behaves off it, you’ve done your job well. If Williams and Blount start causing problems, then the Bucs are open to criticism.

D. Orlando Ledbetter writes the Falcons are showing interest in Fort Valley State wide receiver Ricardo Lockette. I usually caution not to read too much into who teams interview at the Senior Bowl and combine and bring in for private visits because every team does homework on a lot of guys. But it light of general manager Thomas Dimitroff’s comments about the Falcons needing to be more explosive, I think this one could have some legs. Lockette’s got legs. He’s one of the fastest players in this draft.