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NFC South Draft Predictions

Tampa Bay has the best assortment of young talent in the league and look to add more. Here are some predictions for the NFC South’s 2011 draft class:

1. The Bucs will take at least two defensive ends and the first one will get at least 9 sacks this season. I am not saying this because they took twos of DT and WR last year, but more because this is a position of need and the Bucs will probably trade down and get more picks. Raheem is an expert in the cover-2 and the McCoy-Price combo will be much better in their second year, giving big sack totals to the first end they take.

2. The Saints will do what they did just once last draft: add a skill position player on offense. Colston, Thomas and Ivory are proof that Sean Payton can find talent anywhere in the draft. The Saints may seem like a stacked team on offense – and they are -, but they did take a serious step backwards in big plays (though you could argue Drew Brees’ 58 pass plays of 20+ yards two seasons ago – only 47 last year – was anomalous given his lack of arm strength). Additionally, all of their top three running backs (including Bush, who probably won’t be back) missed games with injury.

3. The Bucs will add one running back in later rounds, possibly sooner. This is similar to New Orleans’ issue. Given LaGarrette Blount’s running style and the injury issues past (Cadillac) and present (Kareem Huggins), they may be looking to add another to the fold. The Bucs brought in Kendall Hunter for a workout because he is a fantastic playmaker that – given his non-prototypical measurables – would be a steal in the second or could even slip to the third.

4. The Panthers will draft a quarterback in the first two rounds. This is actually one of the most promising 1-15 teams I’ve seen in awhile. They need help in the pass rush and they need the O-line to improve but they are definitely stacked enough at linebacker, running back (Stewart-Goodson), corner, safety and even wide receiver if Smith comes back (I like the upside of Clowney and Gettis) to take the best QB available in the second (think Ponder) if they don’t take one in the first.

5. The Falcons will take at least two defensive backs. They got pleasant returns on Brent Grimes (who I still think is going to be beat a lot by Mike Williams) and second-year player William Moore but the entire secondary was ransacked by Aaron Rodgers and the Dirty Birds recently cut veteran safety Erik Coleman who backed up Moore.



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