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Monday, April 18, 2011
You Called It: NFC South draft needs

By Pat Yasinskas
ESPN.com

The polls just closed (at 5 p.m. ET) on our Call It votes for the draft needs of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints. Time for a look at and an analysis of what you had to say.

Let’s start with the Buccaneers because they had the most lopsided vote.

Defensive end was the overwhelming choice with 72 percent of the voters saying that’s Tampa Bay’s biggest need. No argument here, but the big question will be if there’s actually a true pass-rushing tight end available when the Bucs choose at No. 20. Guys like Purdue’s Ryan Kerrigan, Clemson’s Da’Quan Bowers and Georgia’s Justin Houston may or may not be on the board.

If they’re not, linebacker seems to be a possibility. The Bucs have had several linebackers, including UCLA’s Akeem Ayers, in for visits and 12 percent of voters said this was the top need for the Bucs. Offensive line drew nine percent of the vote and running back got seven percent.

Defensive end also was the big winner in the Atlanta precincts with 54 percent of the voters saying that’s the biggest position of need for the Falcons. I have no argument with that vote because John Abraham isn’t getting any younger and the Falcons don’t have another true pass rusher.

But there’s no guarantee the Falcons are going to see a defensive end they like at No. 27. The second choice among voters was wide receiver with that position drawing 27 percent of the vote. I could see the Falcons going with a receiver like Jerrel Jernigan in the first round. Fans also can see the possibility of Atlanta going with an offensive lineman or outside linebacker. Offensive line drew 11 percent of the vote and outside linebacker got eight percent.

The Saints had, by far, the closest race in this contest. With over 2,100 votes cast, defensive end (41 percent) nudged outside linebacker (39 percent). I can see the Saints going either way. But this is a team that doesn’t always draft its biggest need. That’s why running back (18 percent) also remains a decent possibility. The Saints are a veteran team without a lot of different needs and I put wide receiver as the fourth – and final – choice on the ballot. Doesn’t sound like New Orleans fans think Marques Colston, Devery Henderson, Robert Meachem and company need much help. Wide receiver only earned two percent of the vote.