1 Breakout Player From Each NFC South Team For 2024 NFL Season

Bijan Robinson, Atlanta Falcons
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The NFC South is probably the weakest division in football, as evidenced by the fact that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won the division with a 9-8 record last season.

However, that does not mean the division won’t be competitive in 2024.

Any of three teams can win the NFC South this coming season. The only club that probably doesn’t have a shot is the Carolina Panthers, but hey; stranger things have happened.

This division is also probably the least exciting of the bunch, but it should be noted that the Buccaneers did win a playoff game last winter and actually gave the Detroit Lions a good run in the Divisional Round.

Let’s break down one player from each NFC South squad that has the best chance of breaking out next season.

Atlanta Falcons: Bijan Robinson, RB.

I think just about everyone saw this pick coming.

Bijan Robinson was one of the most intriguing rookies in the NFL last season, rushing for 976 yards and four touchdowns while also hauling in 58 receptions for 487 yards and four scores.

The 22-year-old even drew comparisons to Barry Sanders due to his shiftiness and agility.

Robinson stands a chance to stamp his name among the best running backs in football in 2024, and now, he actually has a legitimate quarterback in Kirk Cousins to help him do that.

The Falcons also have a pretty good offensive line, so Robinson should be able to find some consistent holes to run through throughout the season.

Barring injuries, Robinson should absolutely eclipse 1,000 yards rushing in 2024, and it would not be surprising to see him lead the NFL in yards from scrimmage. He is that good.

Carolina Panthers: Jonathan Mingo, WR.

Bryce Young is probably the obvious choice here after a rather subpar rookie campaign, but I think if anyone on the Panthers is going to have a breakthrough season in 2024, it’s Jonathan Mingo.

Carolina selected Mingo in the second round of the NFL Draft last spring. He caught 43 passes for 418 yards during his rookie year, so he wasn’t exactly very impactful in 2023.

Of course, that wasn’t all his fault, as Young wasn’t exactly efficient under center, and the Panthers’ offensive line was absolutely horrific.

The front office attempted to address its offensive line in free agency, making a couple of signings to provide more protection for Young. It also swung a trade to acquire wide receiver Diontae Johnson, suddenly giving Carolina a rather talented quartet of Johnson, Adam Thielen, Mingo and incoming rookie Xavier Legette.

Mingo will certainly have to work hard in training camp to carve out a significant role given all of the competition at the position, but thanks to his physical tools and good hands, he could end up becoming one of Young’s top targets come the fall.

New Orleans Saints: Jordan Howden, S.

Last season, cornerback Paulson Adebo broke out for the Saints. Now, another player in their secondary has a chance to bust through: Jordan Howden.

New Orleans took Howden in the fifth round of the 2023 NFL Draft, but he surprisingly ended up displacing Marcus Maye as the starting strong safety last season.

In 16 games and seven starts overall, the 24-year-old ended up registering 43 tackles, a sack, a forced fumble and five passes defended.

He earned a respectable 67 grade from Pro Football Focus in 2023, but it should be noted that Howden absolutely improved as his rookie campaign progressed.

Playing alongside of Tyrann Mathieu should definitely make Howden’s job easier, and having Adebo and Marshon Lattimore at cornerback will certainly help, as well.

The Saints finished a solid 10th in passing defense last season. Look for New Orleans to remain among the league’s better secondaries in 2024, and Howden will be a big part of it.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Calijah Kancey, DE.

There are a lot of ways you can go here.

Offensively, I really like wide receiver Trey Palmer and tight end Cade Otton. There is also second-year linebacker Yaya Diaby, who racked up 7.5 sacks during his rookie campaign in 2023.

However, Calijah Kancey ultimately was the player who won me over.

The Buccaneers selected Kancey with the 19th overall pick last spring, and he proceeded to log 26 tackles and four sacks in 14 contests.

It was a decent debut season for the University of Pittsburgh product, but Kancey is capable of much more.

Kancey is an athletic freak who got better every year in college, and I see very little reason to believe that he won’t continue to ascend on the NFL level.

Tampa Bay rattled off 48 sacks as a team last season, which was tied with elite defensive units like that of the San Francisco 49ers and New York Jets.

That number could very well increase in 2024 with a bump in production from Kancey.

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