NFL Draft Needs in the NFC South: Free Agency Update
Throughout NFL free agency we’ve been taking a look at team draft needs following their initial roster moves.
Here, we look at the last division remaining in the series and identify what the NFC South teams still need in the upcoming NFL Draft.
Within this division resides the NFC’s last two Super Bowl representatives.
Granted, neither was able to pull off the win, but this group is filled with talent from top to bottom.
The Saints have a future Hall of Famer at quarterback and perhaps the biggest wide receiver steal in last year’s draft class.
Meanwhile, the Falcons will try and build off an impressive post-season where their young roster really came together late.
Let’s look at each of them, starting with the defending NFC champs!
ATLANTA FALCONS (2016 Results: 11-5 — 1st in NFC South)
Atlanta’s defense performed admirably, but there’s still room to find more talent in the draft for this young group.
The Falcons have added mostly depth pieces this off-season. However, Dontari Poe is the crown jewel of their free agency haul to this point.
He’ll look to bring some real damage up front for a defense which was less than a game away from getting their team’s first title.
Another presence could certainly be used up front on either side of the ball.
Looking at defense, the edges could use an infusion of talent.
Keanu Neal was an impressive secondary player as a rookie in 2016. Bringing in another player who can play with him would benefit the team as a whole.
Considering Teez Tabor’s disappointing draft buildup there’s a good chance he’s sitting on the board when the team makes their second selection.
He may have let down some expectations, but the Gator cornerback is still a strong talent, and one the team should definitely consider.
CAROLINA PANTHERS (2016 Results: 6-10 — 4th in NFC South)
With a top-10 pick in the first round of this year’s draft, the Panthers are in a great position to add elite talent.
They’ll need it after free agency departures and injuries really hurt this squad in 2016.
Following up a Super Bowl loss is never an easy chore, but Carolina really took their lumps on the way to the bottom.
Cam Newton unceremoniously fell from the shelf some had put him on as league MVP, and the defense certainly felt the departure of cornerback Josh Norman.
To capture the winning feeling of year’s past, Carolina brought back pieces of their past.
Despite also signing Matt Kalil to join his brother Ryan, the offensive line still needs work.
They’ll likely look to Day 2 in order to bring someone in up front, but they’ve been tied to running backs early just about all offseason.
Jonathan Stewart is coming back, but he’s not quite the dominant runner championship teams look for.
Another Jonathan could be the guy to bring in. Jonathan Allen from Alabama could still be waiting for his name to be called when the Panthers pick 8th overall.
He’s a young man who could immediately play on the defensive line and has the potential to become a long-term fixture for the group.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (2016 Results: 7-9 — 3rd in NFC South)
The Saints’ first Super Bowl win may become Drew Brees’ only title if the team can’t draft more impact players.
Bringing back Nick Fairley was a good move. Linebacker has to be a position of focus early, though.
If Alabama’s Reuben Foster is still on the board when this team goes on the clock at 11th overall, then he should be headed to the “Big Easy”.
Another name who has been steadily climbing draft boards is Temple’s Haason Reddick.
Trading speedster Brandin Cooks certainly had its precursors as turmoil within the team was being rumored during the regular season as well.
When it all came to a head, the player headed to New England and the Patriots’ first-round pick went south.
I’m not sold on this being the best for Brees and company to repeat their offensive output from a year ago, but drafting a guy like Corey Davis could help bring back impressive performances every week.
This pick should allow Ginn to move inside to the slot where he would probably work better in this system.
With their second draft pick in the first round, the team needs to essentially look opposite of where they go earlier.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (2016 Results: 9-7 — 2nd in NFC South)
After some impressive draft classes as of late, the Buccaneers will look to get over the playoff hump by adding some more young talent.
Safety J.J. Wilcox should help bring some thump to the secondary, but he’s not going to keep the team from looking for secondary help in the first round.
With so much excitement, this team really could go any number of ways with their top selection.
David Njoku has seen an uptick in his draft stock and some mocks have him going to the Tampa Bay in the first round as well.
All of these would be good selections for a team on the verge of becoming a real threat out of the NFC South.
2016 will be loaded with excitement, and the draft picks they bring in will definitely have something to say about it.
Looking at the talent in the NFC South, it’s easy to see why this draft will be one of the biggest for the group in some years.
It seems every season a different team rises in the division to make a run at the title, and while the Buccaneers and Saints are the only ones currently with a Lombardi Trophy, there may be another coming to the south soon enough.
The draft is less than a month away, and teams are feverishly putting together their boards and strategies.
Who do you want to see your favorite team take this year? Where are their biggest holes?
Find me on Twitter to discuss anytime, and let me know what you think!