NFC South roundtable: Second-year breakout candidates in 2023

We sat down with the managing editors at Falcons Wire (Matt Urben), Panthers Wire (Anthony Rizzuti), and Bucs Wire (River Wells) to make our preseason picks for second-year breakout candidates in 2023, and it’s an interesting array of responses from each team. The New Orleans Saints are hoping their 2022 rookie class can build on some late-season momentum, while other teams like the Atlanta Falcons are just hoping their players can perform well enough to justify the investments made in them.

And that doesn’t even get into what’s going on with the Carolina Panthers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Let’s break it all down in detail:

Atlanta Falcons

Chris Graythen/Getty Images
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Desmond Ridder wasn’t great last season when he stepped in for Marcus Mariota, however, he kept his head above water and improved during each of his four starts. Playing in a quarterback-friendly system with a dominant running game to lean on, Ridder could surprise a lot of people this season. The former Cincinnati standout showed good chemistry with rookie wide receiver Drake London, and let’s not sleep on the return of tight end Kyle Pitts. — Matt Urben, Falcons Wire

Carolina Panthers

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Left tackle Ikem Ekwonu was solid in his rookie campaign. He played in every single one of Carolina’s 1,016 offensive snaps and allowed just six sacks. He should be even better with that year of experience under his belt. — Anthony Rizzuti, Panthers Wire

New Orleans Saints

We saw some good things out of cornerback Alontae Taylor in a part-time role last year, but he’s gearing up to win a starting job from cornerback Paulson Adebo and develop into one of the game’s better defensive backs. He broke up 8 passes without allowing a touchdown pass last year and should only improve with more experience. — John Sigler, Saints Wire

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Bucs will be waiting to see if defensive tackle Logan Hall can show some big progress in year two. Hall has gained playing weight and will likely serve as the 3-4 defensive end across from new Bucs rookie Calijah Kancey, and Todd Bowles and his defensive staff will hope to see him take a jump in 2023 and be a big contributor on the defensive side of the ball. — River Wells, Bucs Wire

Story originally appeared on Saints Wire