2012 NFL Draft: NFC South Team Needs
John Tuvey
April 18, 2012

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TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (5th overall pick)

Six picks: 1.5; 2.4; 3.5; 5.5; 6.4; 7.5

The free-agency signings of Vincent Jackson, Carl Nicks, and Eric Wright address several of the Bucs’ areas of needs, though those moves wouldn’t necessarily prevent them from taking a cornerback or wide receiver early. After LeGarrette Blount regressed in 2011 running back is also a major need, one that could be addressed with a replacement pick early or a complementary back later on. The linebacking corps will receive attention during the draft, as will the wafer-thin safety position.

Possible options: RB Trent Richardson, Alabama; CB Morris Claiborne, LSU; RB Doug Martin, Boise State; LB Lavonte David, Nebraska; LB Zach Brown, North Carolina; DT Josh Chapman, Alabama

CAROLINA PANTHERS (9th overall pick)

Six picks plus one compensatory pick: 1.9; 2.8; 4.9; 5.8; 6.10; 6.37 (compensatory pick); 7.9

Basking in the glow of last year’s top pick, the Panthers will look to give Cam Newton at least one more weapon to work with. Carolina’s other needs are primarily on the defensive side of the ball; look for them to add a lineman early—a pass rusher to pair with Charles Johnson or a run-stuffer after neither of last year’s third-round DTs panned out—and address the linebacking corps and secondary later in the draft.

Possible options: DT Fletcher Cox, Mississippi State; DE Quinton Coples, North Carolina; DT Dontari Poe, Memphis; DT Michael Brockers, LSU; WR Rueben Randle, LSU; DT Devon Still, Penn State; WR Stephen Hill, Georgia Tech

ATLANTA FALCONS (22nd overall pick, traded to Cleveland)

Five picks plus one compensatory pick: 2.23; 3.21; 5.22; 6.22; 7.22; 7.42 (compensatory pick)

This year’s first-rounder was part of last year’s draft-day trade to move up and take Julio Jones, so with no picks until 54 names have been called it’s a good thing the Falcons have no glaring needs. The offensive line requires depth and some upgrades, and Atlanta has another opportunity to pick a quality successor to ageless tight end Tony Gonzalez. Defensively the Falcons could use depth in the secondary after losing two defensive backs to free agency and linebacking help after watching Curtis Lofton sign with division rival New Orleans.

Possible options: TE Dwayne Allen, Clemson; OT Mitchell Schwartz, California; OT Jeff Allen, Illinois; OC David Molk, Michigan; CB Brandon Boykin, Georgia; CB Dwight Bentley, Louisiana-Lafayette

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (27th overall pick, traded to New Orleans)

Five picks: 3.26; 4.27; 5.27; 6.9 (from MIA); 7.27

Last year’s trade for Mark Ingram and the Bountygate scandal and cover-up will have the Saints on the sidelines until late into Day Two of the draft. New Orleans already used free agency to address needs on the offensive and defensive line and at linebacker, and they have plenty of wide receivers to offset the departure of Robert Meachem. The Saints could still look at depth at those positions but will likely target a cornerback early after losing Tracy Porter in free agency.

Possible options: CB Brandon Boykin, Georgia; CB Jamell Fleming, Oklahoma; WR Chris Givens, Wake Forest; LB Keenan Robinson, Texas; LB Sean Spence, Miami (FL)

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