NFL Draft: NFC South Team Needs
After seeing three teams earn their way into the playoffs last season, it’s safe to say the NFC South is amongst the best divisions in the NFL. That being said, there’s still moves left to be made that can help one of the teams separate from the rest in the division.
New Orleans Saints
Needs: TE, QB, DT, DE, SS
The New Orleans Saints appear to have many of their roster spots addressed at this point, so the rest of the offseason will be about getting younger and adding depth to certain position. Starting on offense, don’t be surprised if New Orleans opts to go with a tight end in the first round to add to its already explosive offense. While Drew Brees is locked in as the starting quarterback, the 39-year-old could expect another counterpart to learn from him if the Saints find a young quarterback they like in the draft.
Flipping it over to the defense, the Saints could look to upgrade the defensive tackle position, which is perhaps the weakest part of the roster. Staying on the defensive line, acquiring edge rushers to allow Cameron Jordan and Sheldon Rankins to take a needed break during games will certainly create a more well-balanced pass defense. With Vonn Bell being the only notable player at strong safety, the Saints can draft another player at the position just in case Bell goes down with an injury.
Needs: OG, TE, DT, DE, CB
If the Atlanta Falcons want to maintain their solid running game, upgrading the offensive guards will be necessary because that appears to be the weakest part of the offensive line. Tight end Austin Hooper has been inconsistent to start his NFL career, so drafting a tight end to compete with him will only benefit the offense. Losing Dontari Poe leaves a massive hole to fill at defensive tackle. While Grady Jarrett is a solid player, there appears to be no player besides him that can replicate the impact Poe had against the run.
Atlanta wasn’t great at rushing the passer last season, even after drafting Takkarist McKinley in 2017, which means that the team should draft another pass rusher to play in the rotation. Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford are both starting-caliber cornerbacks in the NFL, but there’s little to no help at the position after those two players.
Needs: WR, TE, OG, S, CB
While wide receiver isn’t the biggest concern on the Panthers’ roster, it wouldn’t be a surprise if they draft a pass-catcher early in the draft if an elite talent falls to them at the No. 24 pick. Greg Olsen has only a handful of productive seasons left in the tank, which means Carolina can bring in another tight end to help make the transition smoother once Olsen is off the team. Andrew Norwell signing with the Jacksonville Jaguars means there’s an immediate need at the guard position.
New general manager Marty Hurney was clearly disappointed with how the secondary looked last season as he got rid of starters Kurt Coleman and Daryl Worley. The Panthers have no real threat at the safety position, and will almost certainly draft a player to fill the need as no effort was made to do so during free agency. Ross Cockrell is a solid player that fits in Carolina’s zone scheme, but that shouldn’t stop the Panthers from adding more help at the cornerback position.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Needs: RB, OG, DT, CB, S
With the Doug Martin experiment coming to an end, Tampa Bay may very well draft a young running back to compete for the starting job. Losing Logan Mankins is also a huge blow, and the hole at the offensive guard spot will certainly not make things easier for Jameis Winston. The Bucs are probably praying that either Saquon Barkley or Quenton Nelson fall to the No. 7 pick in the draft, as both players fill two huge needs in the offense.
Gerald McCoy could use some help next to him on the defensive line, as Tampa Bay was one of the worst blitzing teams in the NFL last season. Former first round pick Vernon Hargreaves appears to play better in the slot than on the outside, which means the Bucs can definitely find a cornerback to play on the outside and allow Hargreaves to be effective in a more natural position. Tampa Bay has had a difficult time finding an impact safety since Ronde Barber retired, which is a huge concern considering the quarterback talent present in the NFC South.
Hunter Pitcoff is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.