NFC South Draft: What do the Bucs, Falcons, Panthers and Saints need?

NFC South Draft: What do the Bucs, Falcons, Panthers and Saints need?

Credit: Getty Images

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 25: Kenny Vaccaro of the Texas Longhorns, stands with 13-year-old Markell Gregoire (L) and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell (R) as they hold up a jersey on stage after he was picked #15 overall by the New Orleans Saints in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 25, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

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wwltv.com

Posted on May 6, 2014 at 2:36 PM

Updated Wednesday, May 7 at 5:58 AM

Maggie Hendricks / USA Today

New Orleans Saints

2014 Draft Picks: 1st (27), 2nd (58), 3rd (91), 4th (126), 5th (167), 5th (169 via trade), 6th (202)

* The Saints’ seventh-round pick was traded to the 49ers.

Top priority

With the Saints’ secondary taken care of in free agency, the Saints have to focus on their front seven. Cameron Jordan and Junior Gallette could use help in the pass rush.

Free agency impact


Signing Jairus Byrd transformed the Saints’ secondary.  Now, they can focus on strengthening other parts of the defense.

Best fit


Boise State defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence is versatile and athletic. His flexibility means Rob Ryan can utilize him in different spots.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

2014 Draft Picks: 1st (7), 2nd (38), 3rd (69), 5th  (143), 7th (221)

*Tampa Bay’s fourth-round pick was traded to Dallas and sixth-round pick was traded to Chicago.

Top priority

With the Mike Williams’ trade, the Buccaneers have just one returning starter at wide receiver. They need someone to complement Vincent Jackson.

Free agency impact

Picking up Alterraun Verner strengthened the Bucs’ defensive backfield and erased one of their biggest needs. With that out of the way, the Bucs can focus on fixing their offense.

Best fit

Though he’s young and raw, Texas A&M wide receiver Mike Evans is the best fit for the Buccaneers for the coming season and for the future. His size, strength and ability to make catches happen out of nowhere will work for Tampa Bay as they come up with a solution to their quarterback conundrum. He has the ability to continue to develop beyond this season.


Atlanta Falcons

2014 Draft Picks: 1st (6), 2nd (37), 3rd (68), 4th (103), 4th (139 – compensatory), 5th (147), 6th (182), 7th (220), 7th (253 – compensatory), 7th (255 – compensatory)

Top priority

Matt Ryan was sacked 44 times in 2013 – quite a jump from the 28 times he was sacked in 2012. The Falcons’ overhaul of their line started with a new position coach in Mike Tice. Next, they need a tackle.

Free agency impact

The Falcons also need help on the defensive line, but addressed this problem by adding Paul Soliai. This allows Atlanta to focus on their offensive line in the early rounds of the draft.

Best fit

The Falcons need someone who can help the line immediately, and Michigan tackle Taylor Lewan fits the bill. He started for four years at Michigan, and though he could stand to add size, he’s NFL-ready.

Carolina Panthers

2014 Draft Picks: 1st (28), 2nd (60), 3rd (92), 4th (128), 5th (168), 6th (204), 7th (225 via trade)

* The Panthers’ seventh-round pick was traded to the 49ers.

Top priority

Carolina is in desperate need for a wide receiver. The Panthers were already thin on wide receivers, and then they cut Steve Smith. Carolina should pick up a receiver who Cam Newton can rely on in different situations.

Free agency impact

The Panthers picked up Jason Avant in free agency and moved on from Steve Smith. Avant is not a no. 1 receiver, so he plugs the hole created by Smith’s departure, but still doesn’t change the Panthers’ need for a receiver.

Best fit

Marqise Lee, WR, USC: With a 4.52 40-yard dash, Lee will bring the Panthers the speed they so desperately need. He has shown an ability to run routes well and speed up at key moments, making him a good match for Carolina’s offense.

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