NFC South

This the seventh part of our series breaking down each team’s needs (by division)  headed into the draft tomorrow evening. In case you missed our previous posts, feel free to take a look here.

As always, we want to hear what you think, so don’t hesitate to leave us your thoughts in the comment thread.

Atlanta Falcons (9-7)

Analysis: Last season was definitely a big letdown for the Falcons, who were expecting big things after a strong season in 2008. The acquisition of future Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez definitely helped the offense, but mediocre performances and injuries at other key positions caused Atlanta to falter at all the wrong times last year. That said, winning nine games gave them back-to-back winning seasons for the first time in their history, which is definitely something to be proud of. Look for more of the same this year, with essentially the same cast of characters back to push for a Super Bowl run.

  • Players added: CB Dunta Robinson, CB Brent Grimes, S Matt Giordano
  • Players lost: CB Chris Houston, CB Tye Hill, FB Verron Haynes, WR Marty Booker, CB Antoine Harris, S Jamaal Fudge, LB Tony Gilbert

Major Needs:

  • Defensive End – Finding a player that can generate a pass rush on a consistent basis has to be priority number one in this draft, with Jamaal Anderson underachieving in a big way last year. Expect the Falcons to use their top pick in fixing this issue as there should be several solid choices to work with at #19 overall.
  • Kicker – Atlanta struggled in a big way last season in converting field goal opportunities, converting just 19 of 29 chances (65%). Obviously, taking a kicker near the top of the draft isn’t a realistic scenario, but don’t be surprised if the Falcons go after a player at this spot in round four or five to solidify things here.
  • Linebacker – Outside of Curtis Lofton and Curtis Nicholas, the Falcons really don’t have anyone worth mentioning in their linebacker corps. If their preferred defensive end is gone when they pick in round one, they’ll be looking to address this spot for sure.

2010 Draft Picks:

  • 1st (19)
  • 3rd (83, 98)
  • 4th (117)
  • 5th (149, 165)
  • 6th (171)
  • 7th (189)

Carolina Panthers (8-8)

Analysis: Last year was a transition season of sorts for the Panthers, who moved on from veteran quarterback Jake Delhomme to Matt Moore, who gave the team a much better shot at winning down the stretch with his ability to protect the football. Carolina also said goodbye to longtime defensive end Julius Peppers, as he signed a lucrative deal in the off-season with Chicago. Headed into this draft, the Panthers have multiple needs to address, but unfortunately they don’t have much in the way of ammunition to work with and it’s going to be difficult to fix everything this weekend.

  • Players added: QB A.J. Feeley, DT Ed Johnson, WR Wallace Wright, CB Marcus Hudson, S Aaron Francisco, CB Brian Witherspoon
  • Players lost: DE Julius Peppers, QB Jake Delhomme, DT Ma’ake Kemoeatu, TE Brad Hoover, LB Na’il Diggs, DT Damione Lewis

Major Needs:

  • Wide Receiver – There’s no way that Steve Smith can continue to carry the load by himself. The Panthers have to use a high round pick to address this spot if they want to give Matt Moore anything to work with next fall.
  • Defensive Tackle – Finding a player capable of penetrating into the backfield and disrupting opposing passers has to be a priority in this draft, especially now that they don’t have Julius Peppers coming off the end.
  • Defensive End – The Panthers have used several picks on this position in recent years, but none of them have really stepped up to be a game changing pass rusher, making it a need once again in this draft class.

2010 Draft Picks:

  • 2nd (48)
  • 3rd (78)
  • 4th (112)
  • 6th (175, 202, 204)
  • 7th (223, 249)

New Orleans Saints (13-3) *Super Bowl Champions

Analysis: The Saints finally brought home a championship to the Big Easy last season, earning every bit of the Lombardi Trophy with their hard fought win against the Colts in January. The best part about their amazing run though is that they’re primed to make a repeat bid at the title this year, and should have little difficulty handling their rivals in the NFC South.

  • Players added: DE Alex Brown, DE Jimmy Wilkerson
  • Players lost: LB Mark Simoneau, OG Jamar Nesbit, DE Charles Grant, LB Scott Fujita, RB Mike Bell

Major Needs:

  • Defensive End – The additions of Alex Brown and Jimmy Wilkerson will help in solidifying the Saints pass rush next fall, but neither player is the answer long term, and as such, finding a capable player to develop here will be a major priority in this draft.
  • Linebacker – With overachiever Scott Fujita gone to Cleveland, adding a quality player to the depth chart in the linebacker corps may end up taking precedence in round one for the Saints. If they go in a different direction, they should be able to find someone in round two or three.
  • Defensive Tackle – Stopping the run definitely isn’t the strong suit for New Orleans’ defense, and while it won’t be a spot they’ll address early on this weekend, look for the Saints to try and find a capable player in round four or five.

2010 Draft Picks:

  • 1st (32)
  • 2nd (64)
  • 3rd (95)
  • 4th (130)
  • 6th (201)
  • 7th (239)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-13)

Analysis: Last season was a complete disaster for Tampa Bay, and almost cost head coach Raheem Morris his job after just one year. Firing both of his coordinators by the middle of the season definitely didn’t help matters, but the Bucs seemed to pull through nonetheless, and finished off the season with wins in two of their last three games. If they can utilize their picks correctly, Tampa Bay should be able to double their win total this year and get back to respectability.

  • Players added: WR Reggie Brown, LB Jon Alston, S Sean Jones
  • Players lost: WR Antonio Bryant, P Dirk Johnson, P Josh Bidwell, CB Torrie Cox, S Will Allen, LB Matt McCoy, DE Jimmy Wilkerson, QB Byron Leftwich

Major Needs:

  • Defensive Tackle – The Bucs literally have zero talent at this position and will almost certainly use the #3 overall pick to rectify that situation by taking either Ndamukong Suh or Gerald McCoy.
  • Wide Receiver – Losing their best receiver in Antonio Bryant will hurt Tampa Bay’s offense big time, unless they use one of their second round picks to address the position.
  • Safety – Signing Sean Jones will help in solidifying their secondary next year, but the Bucs would still be wise to take advantage of an incredibly deep draft at the safety position by selecting one in round two or three.

2010 Draft Picks:

  • 1st (3)
  • 2nd (35, 42)
  • 3rd (67)
  • 4th (101)
  • 5th (153)
  • 6th (172)
  • 7th (210, 217, 225, 232, 253)

Back to Team Needs: NFC North


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