Posted: Tuesday April 19, 2005 4:08PM; Updated: Tuesday April 19, 2005 4:43PM
NFC South Draft Needs
Defensive tackle, safety, offensive tackle
The Falcons love the reason they're picking so late in the first round this year, but it kind of hurts on draft day. Atlanta lost defensive tackle Ed Jasper and need someone to line up beside DT Rod Coleman inside. They could use some starting material at safety, an offensive-tackle prospect to compete with Kevin Shaffer on the left side, and while we're at it, that receiving corps still doesn't inspire confidence. That sounds like a lot for a team that played in the NFC title game, but if the Falcons come out of the first day with the right replacement for Jasper, they'll be satisfied.
Receiver, offensive line/tackle, running back
The Panthers aren't desperate to fill any particular hole, which means it's tough to predict their draft board. Having lost Muhsin Muhammad, they could use another receiver to go with Steve Smith and Keary Colbert. Their offensive line, which was in shambles due to injuries and departures from the get-go last year, needs a tackle or a guard, depending on where free-agent Mike Wahle lines up. And with their running-back depth chart wiped out by injuries in 2004, picking up some insurance for the hobbled Stephen Davis and DeShaun Foster is another viable option.
New Orleans Saints
Linebacker, offensive tackle, cornerback
The consensus is that the Saints will use their first- and second-round picks to land an impact linebacker and right offensive tackle, their two most obvious needs. But some also feel New Orleans is the most likely team to trade up into the top 10, and the Saints likely would be doing so in order to have a shot at a highly rated cornerback like Antrel Rolle or Adam Jones. If the Saints stay put at No. 16, Georgia safety Thomas Davis is a good candidate to play outside linebacker in the NFL.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Running back, receiver, quarterback
The Bucs will be like the kid in the candy store on draft day. Do they take the starting running back they crave, with three good ones lumped in the draft's top eight picks or so? Do they take the impact receiver that might be available, such as USC's Mike Williams? Or do they swap places with Miami at No. 2 -- as has been rumored in recent days ? and go get their franchise quarterback to loom over current starter Brian Griese? All those offensive choices to make, even though the Bucs also have needs to fill at outside linebacker, safety and defensive tackle.