In college football, fans oftentimes cheer for the conference their favorite team belongs to once it comes to bowl season.
For Tampa Bay Buccaneers – and most NFL – fans, that type of group loyalty does not exist.
As an example, when the Bucs were eliminated from the 2021-22 NFL Playoffs, fans of the New Orleans Saints, Carolina Panthers, and Atlanta Falcons were suddenly joined in a celebration of not witnessing another Super Bowl win by their division rival.
Still, the NFC South as a group will play a major role in how the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft unfolds, and fans of all four teams will have plenty to talk about when their favorite teams and division rivals come on the clock.
READ MORE: New Seven Round Mock Draft Lands Key Pieces for Buccaneers
In NFL.com Rhett Lewis’ evaluation of the pivotal picks in the first round of next week’s selection meeting, three of the four NFC South teams are listed.
Of course, picking 27th, it’s hard for Tampa Bay itself to be on the list, and instead will have to wait and see how the Panthers, Falcons, and Saints spend their capital – or trade-up and really shake things up.
For Carolina, it’s the quarterback decision they have to make with the sixth pick, Atlanta’s eighth overall selection is another quarterback spot with several teams inside the Top 15 hoping to see position players continue to fall towards their selections.
Then there’s New Orleans, who has two picks in the teens and has needs similar to those of the Buccaneers.
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Will they move, won’t they, do they take a quarterback, or go with offensive and defensive position players with picks 16 and 19?
Two good players are coming off the board there. Who are they, and what it means for teams drafting behind them, could lead to some bold moves being made in the middle of the first round.
READ MORE: ‘The Match’ Returns
Of course, while the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ current first-round pick won’t have as profound an impact on the night as a whole, if the 26 spots ahead of them work out to allow Jason Licht to add another impact player to the roster , we may see that selection make more noise in February than in April.
Football is often compared to chess, and in the draft game, every move rearranges the board.
Who will win? We don’t know.
But we know the NFC South is going to be a major player in the outcome.