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2011 NFL Draft - NFC South Team Needs
John Tuvey
April 14, 2011
 

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CAROLINA PANTHERS (1st PICK)

Five picks plus three compensatory picks: 1.1; 3.1, 3.33 (comp); 4.1; 5.1; 6.1, 6.38 (comp); 7.43 (comp)

For a two-win team the Panthers don’t have a multitude of needs—but the ones they do have are huge. Quarterback is most certainly an option despite spending a second-rounder on Jimmy Claussen last year, and with no second-round selection in their arsenal they may need to pull that trigger in Round One. The defensive line also needs help, both at tackle and end, and Steve Smith could use some serious help at wide receiver.

Possible options: QB Cam Newton, Auburn; QB Blaine Gabbert, Missouri; DT Marcel Dareus, Alabama; WR A.J. Green, Georgia; Leonard Hankerson, Miami

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (20th PICK)

Seven picks plus one compensatory pick: 1.20; 2.19; 3.20; 4.19; 5.20; 6.22; 7.20, 7.37 (comp)

With Josh Freeman, LeGarrette Blount, and Mike Williams on the roster Tampa Bay has their offensive weapons; their defense, on the other hand, could use help just about everywhere. The primary need is a pass-rushing defensive end to complement last year’s defensive tackle haul, but there are also needs in the secondary—especially if Aqib Talib will be taking a league-mandated vacation due to the charges he’s facing. The Bucs could also be looking at linebackers, with two-thirds of their starters headed for free agency.

Possible options: DE Aldon Smith, Missouri; DE Jabaal Sheard, Pittsburgh; DE Adrian Clayborn, Iowa; LB Quan Sturdivant, North Carolina; LB Greg Jones, Michigan State    

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (24th PICK)

Five picks plus one compensatory pick: 1.24; 2.24; 3.8 (f/WAS), 3.24; 7.24, 7.42 (comp)

The Saints gutted their Day Three picks in pursuit of a repeat, but they have four picks in the first three rounds to address the deficiencies that kept them from a return to the NFC title game. While the offense is in good shape they’ve had myriad injuries at running back and may not want to overpay Reggie Bush again. Their offensive line also needs depth and may have to replace a starter or two depending on what free agency brings. However, most of the Saints’ focus will be on the defensive side of the ball: a pass-rushing defensive end, a safety, and help at outside linebacker.

Possible options: DE Jabaal Sheard, Pittsburgh; DE Adrian Clayborn, Iowa; Derek Sherrod, OT Mississippi State; OG Rodney Hudson, Florida State; OG/OT Clint Boling, Georgia 

ATLANTA FALCONS (27th PICK)

Nine picks: 1.27; 2.27; 3.27; 4.27; 5.27; 6.27; 7.7 (f/DET), 7.27, 7.28 (f/NEP)

A roster that produced the best record in the NFC last year doesn’t need overhaul, but there are areas Atlanta has to address. Three-fifths of their offensive line could hit free agency, but the Falcons’ most pressing need on offense is a running mate for Roddy White. Moreover, if Tony Gonzalez is serious about retirement Atlanta may want to bring in his successor for some mentoring. Defensively, the Falcons are still looking for pass-rushing help; of course, the last time they tried that route Jamaal Anderson didn’t exactly pan out.

Possible options: DE Jabaal Sheard, Pittsburgh; DE Adrian Clayborn, Iowa; OG Mike Pouncey, Florida; OG Danny Watkins, Baylor; WR Torrey Smith, Maryland; TE Kyle Rudolph, Notre Dame

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