Grading the NFC South offseason

Check out this Insider postInsider in which Matt Williamson grades the offseason for every NFC team. The NFC South didn’t fare very well in Williamson’s eyes.

The exception is the New Orleans Saints, who got a B-plus. A lot of people are concerned about the pass rush, but Williamson thinks the Saints will be fine in that area with outside linebackers Victor Butler, Junior Galette and Martez Wilson possessing the ability to get after the passer. That’s a bit of a leap of faith because none of those guys are proven pass-rushers. But all three do have some potential. Williamson also acknowledges left tackle is a concern. But he thinks the strong interior of the line will help compensate for that.

The grades drop significantly after the Saints.

Although the Tampa Bay Buccaneers made a huge trade for cornerback Darrelle Revis and signed safety Dashon Goldson to a big free-agent contract, Williamson only gave the Bucs a C. His major concern is the pass rush. But the Bucs seem to be fairly convinced that defensive end Da’Quan Bowers is ready for a breakout season. Williamson was also critical of the Bucs for not doing more on the offensive side of the ball. I see his point. The Bucs have plenty of salary-cap room and they could have done more to surround quarterback Josh Freeman with talent.

Williamson gave the Atlanta Falcons a C-minus, which I think is a little harsh. I think the Falcons upgraded significantly at running back by replacing Michael Turner with Steven Jackson and they got a little younger at defensive end by bringing in Osi Umenyiora to take John Abraham’s place. Williamson seems to think the Falcons will have problems getting a pass rush from anyone beside Umenyiora, but I think the Falcons are confident at least one of their young defensive ends will step up. Williamson also has doubts about the offensive line. I won’t dispute that one because it remains to be seen if Lamar Holmes is ready to be the starting right tackle.

Williamson also gave the Carolina Panthers a C-minus. His major complaint is that the Panthers didn’t do enough to improve their secondary. It’s hard to argue with that. But I do think the Panthers have assembled what could be one of the league’s best front sevens and that could take some heat off the secondary.