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Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3rd)
Nine picks plus one compensatory pick: 1.3; 2.3, 2.10 (f/CHI); 3.3; 4.3; 5.22 (f/NE); 6.3; 7.3, 7.10 (f/JAX), 7.46 (comp)
The Bucs have their franchise quarterback in place; after that, just about anything goes. They’d love to get their hands on one of the two elite defensive tackles in this draft, with help in the secondary both an early backup plan and a need to be addressed later on as well. The departure of Antonio Bryant leaves a gaping hole in the passing game, one the acquisition of Reggie Brown isn’t quite enough to fill. Tampa Bay could also tap into a draft class relatively stocked with pass rushers, and with so much invested in Josh Freeman don’t be surprised to see them look to upgrade their offensive line as well.
Possible options: DT Gerald McCoy, Oklahoma; DT Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska; WR Demaryius Thomas, Georgia Tech; WR Mardy Gilyard, Cincinnati; S Chad Jones, LSU
Carolina Panthers (17th pick, traded to San Francisco)
Five picks plus three compensatory picks: 2.16; 3.14; 4.14; 6.6 (f/OAK), 6.33 (comp), 6.35 (comp); 7.16, 7.42 (comp)
Thus far this offseason Carolina has shed two of its signature players—DE Julius Peppers and QB Jake Delhomme—and rumors abound that they’re looking into trading one of their two running backs as well. That doesn’t leave much on the team not in need of an upgrade. The Panthers don’t have a first-round pick, but when they do come on the clock expect them to address their defensive line (specifically the pass rush in light of Peppers’ departure) and dearth of passing game playmakers (from quarterback on down through wideouts and even tight end).
Possible options: DE Corey Wootton, Northwestern; DE Jason Worilds, Virginia Tech; WR Damian Williams, USC; WR Dezmon Briscoe, Kansas; TE Dennis Pitta, BYU
Atlanta Falcons (19th pick)
Six picks plus two compensatory picks: 1.19; 3.19, 3.34 (comp); 4.19; 5.18, 5.34 (comp); 6.2 (f/DET), 6.20
With the free-agency signing of Dunta Robinson the Falcons addressed one of their two most pressing offseason needs; that should free them up to use their lone selection among the first 80 picks to add a pass rusher. Later picks will likely be focused on giving Matt Ryan a wider array of weapons, specifically wide receiver help for Roddy White and an heir to tight end Tony Gonzalez.
Possible options: DE Brandon Graham, Michigan; DE Everson Griffen, USC; LB Sean Lee, Penn State; WR Jordan Shipley, Texas; WR Andre Roberts, The Citadel
New Orleans Saints (32nd pick)
Six picks: 1.32; 2.32; 3.31; 4.32; 6.32; 7.32
The defending champs have plenty of in-house work to do retaining the likes of Darren Sharper, Jammal Brown, Jahri Evans and Pierre Thomas before they start worrying about holes to fill. That said, the departure of LB Scott Fujita pushes linebacker to the fore of their draft-day concerns. They’ll also be looking at upgrading their defensive line, and if Sharper doesn’t come back the Saints will need safety help as well. Offensively, assuming everything works out with Reggie Bush and RFAs Thomas, Lance Moore and o-linemen Brown and Evans, there’s little to do except reload.
Possible options: DT Jared Odrick, Penn State; DT Arthur Jones, Syracuse; LB Navarro Bowman, Penn State; LB Eric Norwood, South Carolina; S Nate Allen, South Florida