Draft Needs: NFC South
Neil Hornsby offers a team-by-team display of positional draft needs for the NFC South.
Draft Needs: NFC South
At PFF we’re not big on telling you things we don’t know about first hand, so saying who a team should draft is not something you’ll see here. However, giving you our view on areas of need, is another matter. With free agency essentially in the books, we thought this might be a good opportunity to give you a pre-draft look at the areas they should look to address either via the draft or otherwise .
You know how much we like colour-coding everything and this set of articles (one for each division) is no exception. Before you dig in we’d highly recommend you check out the legend – these are not player grades as in our projected line-ups series, we are grading need. Obviously, to some degree, they are related but not always. Let’s be clear, the fact that in the AFC East Review we have the Patriots QB situation as a slightly higher need than that of the Jets does not mean we are saying Geno Smith is a better QB than Tom Brady; just that Smith has shown enough to say he deserves a decent shot and with Michael Vick backing him up there is no immediate need to draft another QB while in New England it may be time for them to consider a successor to the great man particularly given Ryan Mallett is a free agent next year and shown very little in recent preseasons.
In some of the grades we are also considering the depth behind the player listed so, for example, with Buffalo’s slot corner position the fact they have Nickell Robey as well as Corey Graham ensures this is a straight dark green. However, where this is the case, I’ll mention it in the text below relating to each team.
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The need is so blindingly clear it’s difficult to think beyond edge rushers (and lots of them). This is the team with the worst pass rush in football and it is still is remarkable to me they felt John Abraham was so expendable. However, that issue masks a roster devoid of depth in multiple areas. It continues with an offensive line that was such an unmitigated disaster last year it necessitated a complete change in offensive game-planning and then, when you remove Tony Gonzalez as well, it’s apparent the problems go well beyond a pair of outside linebackers.
The Panthers will struggle to come close to their performance levels last year and in no way shape or form am I blaming the front-office for that. The salary cap bomb that was laid by the previous incumbents went off and ripped the heart out of a team that was incredibly close to winning it all. Did Dave Gettleman want to let Captain Munnerlyn (among others) go? Of course not but his hands were tied and now they need to draft as well as they did last year. They have to address wide receiver, offensive tackle and the entire secondary so the order in which they do is almost irrelevant. Each of those areas is a high priority and they don’t have enough picks to do it all this year.
This is a very interesting team where a few great picks could instantly have them very close to the Seahawks in terms of talent. Nothing is particularly pressing but some thought to the future (at corner for example) could pay dividends immediately and also provide the foundation for future dominance. If they can give Drew Brees enough weapons (another trustworthy receiver to replace Lance Moore) and Rob Ryan a few more pieces for his defensive jigsaw (particularly at linebacker) they are set fair for not just another great year but many after that.
It’s hard not to like the changes made in West Florida. Lovie Smith may be a little “old school” but I’m not sure many coaches have a better track record of wringing every available ounce of production out of what they have. And what he has here is a mixed bunch.
They have at least one excellent player at nearly every position group except quarterback and tight end and at least a serviceable player in Josh McCown at the former for at least this year. Clearly though more is required especially opposite the excellence of Vincent Jackson at WR and Lavonte David at linebacker. Michael Johnson was a great start in supplementing Gerald McCoy on the defensive line but as with all great teams the line needs more than two quality players.
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Neil Hornsby | PFF Founder
Neil founded PFF in 2006 and is currently responsible for the service to the company's 22 NFL team customers. He is constantly developing new insights into the game and player performance.