2012 NFL Draft: Team Needs for the NFC South
With the 2012 NFL Draft less then three weeks away, teams are gearing up for their annual infusion of young talent.
The draft has become the highlight of the off-season, as fans wait with baited breath to find out what new pieces will be added to their team.
Here you will find a breakdown of NFC South teams' most glaring positional needs as well as some projections for how to fill those needs.
New Orleans Saints
Drew Brees will need to lead the offense with coach Sean Payton suspended for the entire season
Team Needs: LB, WR, S
The New Orleans Saints have been the most talked about team this offseason, but not for the right reasons. Greg Williams and the bounty system have occupied an offseason that should have focused on a long term extension for Drew Brees.
Free Agency also proved to be problematic as the Saints lost Pro Bowl guard Carl Nicks to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and wide receiver Robert Meachem to the San Diego Chargers.
After trading up for Mark Ingram in last year's NFL Draft and the penalties levied by Roger Goodell, the Saints will have to wait until the third round to select a player. The Saints signed Ben Grubbs to fill the Carl Nicks void, but the wide receiving core could use another addition.
With the impending suspension of Jonathan Vilma the Saints signed Curtis Loften as a stop gap. However, the Saints linebacking group has underperformed as a whole and could use an infusion of youth.
Possible Selections (3rd Round, Pick 89th Overall)
Vontaze Burfict ILB (Arizona State), Kyle Wilber OLB (Wake Forest), Brian Quick WR (Appalachian State)
The Falcons will be looking for the Roddy White/Julio Jones duo to make big strides in their second year together
Team Needs: OL, DL, LB
The Atlanta Falcons made the biggest move in last year's NFL Draft by trading up to sixth overall to draft wide receiver Julio Jones. Jones came on strong at the end of his rookie season, but the Falcons underperformed as a team.
The Falcons let starting MLB Curtis Lofton leave in free agency and failed to make any "splash" signings, leaving Atlanta in a must win situation on draft day.
As a result of the trade up for Julio Jones, the Falcons will not have a first round pick this year. They have needs on both sides of the line as well as at linebacker.
This is a surprisingly deep defensive tackle class, so don't be surprised if the Falcons select a replacement for the oft injured Peria Jerry.
Brandon Thompson DT (Clemson), Jerel Worthy DT (Michigan State), Kevin Zeitler G (Wisconsin)
The Panthers will be looking for Sir Cam "Isaac" Newton to continue his impressive rookie success
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Team Needs: DL, CB, WR
Cam Newton surprised most NFL fans last year with his early success, when he transformed the NFL's worst team into a high flying offense with superior run and passing games.
However, the Panthers were limited to only six wins because of their bottom dwelling defense. The Panthers ranked among the worst team defenses in all defensive categories last year, identifying a glaring need coming into the NFL Draft.
The Panthers' defense as a whole must improve, and picking in the top ten allows Carolina to select the best player available. The question will be whether the Panthers look to improve their terrible defense or provide Cam Newton with another weapon.
Fletcher Cox DT (Mississippi State), Quinton Coples DE (North Carolina), Michael Floyd WR (Notre Dame)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
LeGarrette Blount will need to rebound this year as he fell into the tragic "sophomore slump" this past season
Team Needs: DB, WR, RB
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were viewed as one the hottest "sleeper" teams coming into 2011 and they disappointed miserably. The offense and defense fell apart and now the Buccaneers find themselves picking in the top five of this year's NFL Draft.
Outside of Josh Freeman and the young defensive line, every position can be upgraded for the Buccaneers. With the fifth overall pick the Buccaneers will need to select a "blue chip" prospect who will be able to start for the next 5-7 years. While many feel the secondary is the biggest need on this team, do not rule out the Bucs selecting Alabama running back Trent Richardson.
Morris Claiborne CB (LSU), Trent Richardson (Alabama), Justin Blackmon WR (Oklahoma State)