- Pat Yasinskas, ESPN Staff Writer
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We’ve been talking about needs for the four NFC South teams this offseason and we’re about to do it again. Let’s turn to this Insider post by Gary Horton.
He lists three needs for each team and I’m picking one of those for each team to discuss here.
— For the Falcons, Horton lists the offensive line as the top need. No argument here. The Falcons have to get better up front if they’re going to truly have the kind of explosive offense they like to talk about. Horton speculates the Falcons could go after guard Carl Nicks as a free agent or sign tackle Marcus McNeill if he is released, as expected by the Chargers. I’m not totally ruling out the Falcons pursuing Nicks. He’s the best guard in the game and taking him away from New Orleans would weaken a division opponent. But I don’t know if the Falcons can afford to spend so much money on a guard when their biggest weakness is at left tackle.
— Horton lists wide receiver as Carolina’s top need. I’d put defensive tackle and outside linebacker ahead of receiver, but I see his point. There’s a school of thought the Panthers should go get another top receiver to pair with Steve Smith. I can see the Panthers adding a receiver, but not in the early rounds of the draft and not an expensive free agent. All indications I’ve been getting are that the Panthers are happy with the progress of Brandon LaFell and are expecting David Gettis back from an injury.
— For the Saints, Horton has outside linebacker at the top of the list and I couldn’t agree more. Scott Shanle is aging and the Saints never found a solid replacement for Scott Fujita. They have high hopes for Martez Wilson, but I think they’ll add another linebacker in the draft or free agency.
— Horton also has outside linebacker on Tampa Bay’s list. That’s a definite area of need. Geno Hayes and Quincy Black didn’t step up last season. The team played rookie Mason Foster in the middle and that could have had a negative impact on the outside linebackers. But the Bucs have to upgrade this position.