One Bust for Each NFC South Team in 2022

One Bust for Each NFC South Team in 2022

by July 9, 2022 1 comment

While the NFL season is a fair distance away, it is never too early to predict the next wave of stars and superstars across the NFL. However, every team has one piece that fails to live up to the hype entering the new season. The NFC South teams are no different. “Bust” is a relative term. Not all of these players will be bad in 2022, but they could underachieve based on the expectations they have for the season. Rookies are ineligible and will not be included.

Check out the NFC South’s potential breakout stars here.

Previous Entries: AFC EastAFC NorthAFC SouthAFC WestNFC East, NFC North

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Cameron Brate

Brate has been a solid tight end for eight seasons now. He has two seasons with over 500 yards and three seasons with at least six touchdowns. Including playoffs, he has not had a season with under 250 yards or three touchdowns since 2014. With both O.J. Howard and Rob Gronkowski out of the picture, one might expect a breakout for the 31-year-old. Brate’s issue here is named Cade Otton, and Gronkowski could always return from retirement.

The Buccaneers drafted Otton in the fourth round of the 2022 NFL Draft. While he was ineligible for the NFC South booms list because he was a rookie, he is an honorary selection as he is forcing Brate into the bust category. Rookie tight ends have a notoriously difficult transition to the NFL, a learning curve further heightened in this case by Tom Brady, but even if Brate is ahead of Otton on the depth chart, Gronkowski also looms.

New Orleans Saints – Tyrann Mathieu

Mathieu is a great player, and he has been for some time. It seems that sometimes he can be more of a “name” than an elite safety. In his three seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs, Mathieu made a pair of Pro Bowls and a pair of All-Pro teams. He likely only deserved one of these honors, instead robbing the likes of Justin Simmons and Jessie Bates in recent years. It is a testament to Mathieu’s versatility and excellence that he has been a good safety for many seasons, but he has not been elite since 2015.

The expectation is that Mathieu will become elite again for his fourth different team in 2022. He is returning home to New Orleans, and expectations are high. Careful management of expectations (such as expecting the newly-minted 30-year-old to be solid rather than elite) will yield a better viewing experience. It is difficult to describe Mathieu as a bust, but he is likely to underperform his gaudy expectations.

Atlanta Falcons – Cordarrelle Patterson

Patterson falls into the same camp as Brate, as his placement is not quite indicative of the player. The difference is that Patterson’s situation remains a bit strange. On one hand, he will be the lead back for the Falcons in 2022. On the other hand, the Falcons have added players such as Bryan Edwards, Drake London, Anthony Firkser, Damien Williams, and Tyler Allgeier who will compete for precious touches. In 2021, Patterson had 205 touches, 120 more than he had had in any previous season. In turn, he nearly doubled his career bests in scrimmage yards and offensive touchdowns.

It remains to be seen, however, whether the Falcons will give Patterson 153 carries and 69 targets again. In 2021, the likes of Mike Davis and Calvin Ridley opened up huge swathes of opportunities for Patterson, but the Falcons have patched those holes. Patterson will likely bring value as a gadget player and a kick returner, but seasons with 500 rushing yards and 500 receiving yards are likely a distant memory.

Carolina Panthers – C.J. Henderson

The early returns on Henderson’s career have been less than stellar. In his rookie season, the former Gator played in eight games. He allowed a 111.7 passer rating with six pass breakups and an interception. He earned a 57.9 overall grade with a 58.3 coverage grade. In 2021, Henderson played 12 games, two with the Jacksonville Jaguars and 10 with the Panthers. He struggled to the tune of a 130.1 rating allowed with just one pass breakup in 218 coverage snaps. He earned a 50.7 overall grade with a rough 46.8 coverage grade.

Moving into 2022, Miami native Henderson has a year of experience in the defense. The problem is that he might just have been over-drafted. The former No. 9 pick is likely being pushed too quickly along the developmental track, and he has much higher expectations than his play should warrant. Many Panthers rejoiced when they traded for Henderson in 2021, but he has done little on the field to earn even mediocre expectations in 2022.


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I’m Ryan Potts. Some people affectionately call me Splash. I am renowned for being a misplaced Ravens, Cavs, Wings & Braves fan. Twitter: MrSplashMan19

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  1. hoops
    #1 hoops 9 July, 2022, 23:30

    Totally wrong on Brate. He’s gonna finally get his chance to shine.

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