NFC South team needs

John Murphy

Yahoo! Sports has broken down the needs for each team heading into the NFL draft on April 28-29 in New York City.

NFC East | NFC North | NFC West


Atlanta Falcons
Team needs:
Overall pick/round: 8 (1), 39 (2), 44 (2), 75 (3), 109 (4), 121 (4), 133 (4), 149 (5), 185 (6), 244 (7)

DB: The Falcons' dealing away of quarterback Matt Schaub, resulting in them moving two spots up in the first round, should give them a better shot at getting LSU safety LaRon Landry. Other options would be for them to take the highest-rated cornerback on their board and move second-year defender Jimmy Williams from corner to free safety.

DE: The recurring groin issues of pass-rushing specialist John Abraham and the departure of Patrick Kerney could result in Atlanta drafting two ends. Jay Moore, Daniel Bazuin, LaMarr Woodley and Brian Robison are possible targets in the first two rounds.

OL: New head coach Bobby Petrino informed the team's scouts that he preferred larger, more physical blockers who also still had enough footwork to move in space. They could select tackle Levi Brown at No. 8. If not, look for them to address this area with one of their two second-rounders and then again later in the draft.

LB: They need depth and finding a versatile guy like they had a few years ago in Chris Draft, who was able to back up at both middle and weak-side linebacker, would be ideal. A two-down run stuffer would be able to find some situational downs as a rookie. Names of interest could include Quincy Black, Michael Okwo, Zak DeOssie and Rory Johnson.

K: If they believe that kicker Mason Crosby is the equal of guys like Nate Kaeding or Josh Scobee, they could easily utilize their third-round choice to finally get a younger solution for their kicking woes. This should be about the range for Crosby since Kaeding was taken with the 65th overall pick in 2004.

Carolina Panthers
Team needs:
Overall pick/round: 14 (1), 45 (2), 83 (3), 118 (4), 155 (5), 191 (6), 226 (7)

S: The Panthers were already in search of a strong safety, but are now looking to address this position twice with free safety Mike Minter announcing his intentions to retire after the '07 season. They've opted to pursue veterans like Shaun Williams rather than invest in a high draft pick the past couple of years. However, you should expect them to look at a safety early on day one and then come back with a mid-to-late round choice.

LB: The season-ending concussion suffered by Dan Morgan was the start to the defense's downward spiral last year. He expects to return, but the team seems convinced it needs a better long-term solution in case he remains sidelined. The Panthers need to spend one of their first two picks at this position to obtain a playmaker, and potentially would need to deal up in round 2 for the likes of Justin Durant or David Harris.

OT: The team has announced that it will open training camp with Travelle Wharton at left tackle and former first-round pick Jordan Gross on the right side. Wharton did a very good job against most pass rushers two years ago, but is now coming off a season-ending knee injury. The staff also likes the upside and athleticism of last year's third-round pick Rashad Butler, but the overall depth at this position is still up-in-the-air, so expect Carolina to target a reserve left tackle on day one.

WR/TE: The Panthers are looking for someone to double as a slot receiver and return man. Additionally, they're in search of a pass-catching tight end as they've gotten little production from that position in recent years. They could make a serious run at Greg Olsen at pick No. 14. If not, they would likely hold off on the tight end spot until the middle of the draft.

QB: They have spent a lot of time reviewing potential street free agents to audition for their backup role, but equally important would be finding the long-term replacement for Jake Delhomme. He has begun to fall out of favor with some people as his turnover-rate has increased the past two seasons. Unless someone drops into their lap, it is unlikely they will draft a signal caller before the early part of day two.

New Orleans Saints
Team needs:
Overall pick/round: 27 (1), 58 (2), 88 (3), 123 (4), 125 (4), 126 (4), 163 (5), 199 (6), 220 (7)

CB: They are armed with six picks in the first four rounds, so making a deal up in the first is exceedingly possible. Chances are, they would need to trade from pick No. 27 to the middle of the first round in order to have a shot at someone like Darrelle Revis or Chris Houston.

TE: While making a similar trade up in the first round to select Greg Olsen would clearly solve another of the team's biggest needs, it is unlikely that they would part with multiple picks for another offensive player. Instead, the Saints are likely to pull from a decent group of second-tier prospects like Clark Harris, Scott Chandler or Martrez Milner – all possibilities between the third and fourth rounds.

WR: The Saints lucked out with the immediate impact of last year's seventh-round pick Marques Colston. He enters next season as their go-to guy, but they are looking for depth and contributions beyond Devery Henderson and Terrance Copper. The staff likes former undrafted free agent Jamal Jones, but the team could use a fourth-round pick on a development flanker as a replacement for the departed Joe Horn.

DL: This is still one of the strongest positions on the Saints' roster. However, they are likely to lose right end Charles Grant to free agency a year from now unless a new long-term deal can be agreed upon this summer. They re-signed veteran defensive tackle Hollis Thomas, but it would be wise to draft his eventual replacement. Tackles that fit their style would include Brandon Mebane, Trey Lewis or late-rounders like Brent Curvey or Joe Anoai.

QB: Veteran Drew Brees was obviously a tremendous pickup for the Saints last offseason. Now, they should turn their attention to developing a young quarterback behind Brees and veteran backup Jamie Martin. They have four selections within a 40- pick range (Nos. 123-163) between rounds 4-5, so prospects that could fit their scheme include Jeff Rowe, Zac Taylor and even Florida's Chris Leak.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Team needs:
Overall pick/round: 4 (1), 35 (2), 64 (2), 68 (3), 102 (4), 141 (5), 214 (7), 244 (7), 245 (7)

DE: They shopped former All-Pro defensive end Simeon Rice before last year's trade deadline, but opted to keep him when the right offer did not come along. Both Rice and Greg Spires are getting older and they lost Dewayne White in free agency. Veteran Kevin Carter was signed, but the Bucs have a pair of second-rounders, so they should come away with a talented front-four defender with one of those choices. Charles Johnson, Victor Abiamiri and Daniel Bazuin are some of the names to keep in mind.

WR: Michael Clayton has been slowed by an assortment of injuries, and while vet Joey Galloway still has the wheels to stretch the field, the Bucs were unable to keep teams from playing eight in the box against running back Cadillac Williams last year. They need to spread things out more and possibly even occasionally line up in the shot-gun formation. Adding a bona-fide playmaker like Calvin Johnson would be a terrific grab for this team, but they might look to deal down from No. 4 to grab a top-rated defensive lineman. If so, they would then take a receiver with one of their other first-day picks.

DT: The Bucs kept close tabs on defensive tackle Amobi Okoye and defensive lineman Adam Carriker during Senior Bowl week. Both players are expected to come off the board within the first 15 picks and each figures to be the type of physical defender that can attack the line of scrimmage and give them pressure up the middle. If they bypass Okoye in the first round, the Bucs could focus their attention on Tank Tyler, Marcus Thomas or Ray McDonald with one of their two second-round choices.

S: The team has failed to produce adequate replacements for Dexter Jackson and Dwight Smith through the draft as both Will Allen and Jermaine Phillips have failed to produce enough plays to support their corners over the top. Phillips was not a strong enough tackler in the open field and Allen, who is a pretty good athlete, has not yet been able to provide the ball skills necessary to create turnovers. They could look at defenders such as Aaron Rouse, Eric Weddle, Dashon Goldson or Brandon McDonald between rounds 3-5.

CB: If former first-round pick Phillip Buchanon is listed as a starter on the offseason depth chart, then there's reason for concern entering the draft. They are hopeful that second-year corner Alan Zemaitis, a fourth-round pick last year, will challenge for playing time. However, they are weak outside of Ronde Barber as guys like Juran Bolden and Sammy Davis currently fill out their depth chart. In a division that features the Saints' speedy receivers and the new spread offense Atlanta plans to use, it would be wise for the Bucs to address this area at some point of the draft.