NFC South: Brandon Mebane

Looking at NFC South top needs

July, 18, 2011
7/18/11
4:39
PM ET
Scouts Inc.’s Matt Williamson takes a look at the top three needs for every team in the league as we get ready for the start of free agency (we hope).

Williamson surprised me a bit when he listed Atlanta’s needs. I don’t disagree with the needs he cites -- offensive line, defensive end and tight end. But I am surprised that he went in that order. I firmly believe defensive end is Atlanta’s No. 1 need and I’m convinced they’re going to address it by signing someone like Minnesota’s Ray Edwards or Carolina’s Charles Johnson. As far as the offensive line goes, yes, it is a need. Tyson Clabo, Harvey Dahl and Justin Blalock are all potential free agents, center Todd McClure is aging and the jury is still out on left tackle Sam Baker. I think the Falcons will keep one or two of their free agents and they’ve drafted offensive linemen the past few years to prepare for this situation. But I still wouldn’t be surprised if they go out and sign one strong offensive lineman.

When it came to Carolina, Williamson had defensive tackle at the top of the list. No argument here. Yes, Carolina used two third-round picks on defensive tackles, but we don’t know if they’ll have much impact right away. This position has been a glaring weakness for the Panthers the last few years and I think it would be a good idea to go out and sign someone like Seattle’s Brandon Mebane.

Williamson lists outside linebacker, strong safety and offensive tackle as New Orleans’ biggest needs. I’m totally with him on outside linebacker. The team just drafted Martez Wilson and has high hopes for Jonathan Casillas. But they’re both question marks. A veteran team with Super Bowl aspirations might be wise to pick up a proven linebacker.

For Tampa Bay, Williamson lists offensive line, cornerback and running back as the biggest needs. Offensive line could be a huge need if guard Davin Joseph leaves via free agency. Even if he stays, the Bucs could use some help in this area. Cornerback is a bit of an uncertainty because we don’t know if Aqib Talib will be disciplined or if the team will part ways with him. But I do like young corners Elbert Mack, Myron Lewis and E.J. Biggers and think they could combine with veteran Ronde Barber to give the Bucs decent play at cornerback, especially if Tampa Bay can generate any type of a pass rush. I also like the fact Williamson lists running back as a need. A lot of people tend to assume that the Bucs are fine with LeGarrette Blount. He’s very good, but there’s very little depth behind him, especially if Cadillac Williams leaves through free agency.
We started speculating a bit the other day about possible post-lockout moves by throwing out a scenario in which Green Bay linebacker Nick Barnett could fit with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Let’s build off that and hit another team and another player. Although the Carolina Panthers drafted South Florida defensive tackle Terrell McClain and Stanford defensive tackle Sione Fua in the third round this year, I’m not sure they’re done at that position.

Defensive tackle, a strong point for Carolina in the days of Kris Jenkins and Maake Kemoeatu, has been a glaring weakness the past couple of seasons. McClain and Fua should help, but I see one guy I believe could be a nice fit in Carolina.

That’s Brandon Mebane, who has spent the past four seasons with Seattle. If reports that players with four accrued seasons -- and without a contract for this year -- will become unrestricted free agents, Mebane will be on the market.

Other than McClain and Fua, the Panthers have guys like Nick Hayden, Ed Johnson, Corvey Irvin and Derek Landri. Mebane would be an instant upgrade on any of those guys. Carolina’s in a youth movement, but Mebane could fit the profile. He’s only 26.

He’s been a starter throughout most of his career. At 311 pounds, he plays the run well and he also has shown some ability as a pass-rusher in the past. Mebane had 5.5 sacks in 2008.
We already have talked quite a bit about players from the NFC South who are expected to become unrestricted free agents. We’re going on the assumption that players not under contract who have at least four accrued seasons can become unrestricted free agents.

With that in mind, and with some help from ESPN Stats & Information, let’s take a look at some of the more prominent potential free agents from the rest of the league.

QUARTERBACKS: Marc Bulger, Kerry Collins, Rex Grossman, Matt Hasselbeck, Patrick Ramsey, Alex Smith, Billy Volek, Kellen Clemens, Brodie Croyle, Trent Edwards, Bruce Gradkowski, Tarvaris Jackson, Matt Leinart, Troy Smith and Tyler Thigpen.

RUNNING BACKS: Cedric Benson, Ronnie Brown, Kevin Faulk, Mewelde Moore, Sammy Morris, Clinton Portis, Dominic Rhodes, Tony Richardson, Kevin Smith, Darren Sproles, Fred Taylor, Brian Westbrook, Ricky Williams, Joseph Addai, Ahmad Bradshaw, Jerome Harrison, Brandon Jackson, Laurence Maroney and LeRon McClain.

WIDE RECEIVERS: Mark Clayton, Braylon Edwards, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Randy Moss, Santana Moss, Terrell Owens, Donte’ Stallworth, Steve Breaston, Malcom Floyd, Santonio Holmes, James Jones, Sidney Rice, Mike Sims-Walker, Brad Smith and Steve Smith (of the New York Giants, not the Steve Smith of Carolina).

TIGHT ENDS: Desmond Clark, Donald Lee, Randy McMichael, Bo Scaife, Kevin Boss, Owen Daniels, Daniel Fells, Zach Miller, Ben Patrick and Matt Spaeth.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN: David Baas, Jammal Brown, Robert Gallery, Adam Goldberg, Kyle Kosier, Olin Kreutz, Matt Light, Sean Locklear, Casey Rabach, Chris Spencer, Langston Walker, Casey Wiegmann, Floyd Womack, Damien Woody, Chris Chester, Jeromey Clary, Daryn Colledge, Willie Colon, Doug Free, Jared Gaither, Charlie Johnson, Deuce Lutui, Samson Satele, Lyle Sendlein and Marshal Yanda.

DEFENSIVE TACKLES: Aubrayo Franklin, Tommie Harris, Chris Hoke, Chris Hovan, Kris Jenkins, Bryan Robinson, Gerard Warren, Jamal Williams, Pat Williams, Alan Branch, Barry Cofield, John McCargo and Brandon Mebane.

DEFENSIVE ENDS: Jason Babin, Dave Ball, Raheem Brock, Andre Carter, Shaun Ellis, Cullen Jenkins, Travis LaBoy, Trevor Pryce, Marcus Spears, Ray Edwards and Mathias Kiwanuka.

LINEBACKERS: Akin Ayodele, Keith Bulluck, Kevin Burnett, Dhani Jones, Kirk Morrison, Julian Peterson, Matt Roth, Takeo Spikes, Jason Taylor, Mike Vrabel, Stewart Bradley, Bobby Carpenter, Manny Lawson, Paul Posluszny, Ernie Sims and Stephen Tulloch.

CORNERBACKS: Nnamdi Asomugha, Phillip Buchanon, Chris Carr, Drayton Florence, Ellis Hobbs, Carlos Rogers, Lito Sheppard, Ike Taylor, Fabian Washington, Drew Coleman, Antonio Cromartie, Chris Houston, Johnathan Joseph, Dimitri Patterson, Josh Wilson and Eric Wright.

SAFETIES: Aaron Francisco, Ken Hamlin, Michael Lewis, Brandon McGowan, Quintin Mikell, Lawyer Milloy, Brodney Pool, Gerald Sensabaugh, Roy Williams, Gibril Wilson, Atari Bigby, Melvin Bullitt, Abram Elam, Dashon Goldson, Michael Huff, Dawan Landry, Danieal Manning, Bernard Pollard, Eric Weddle and Donte Whitner.
Tags:

NFC South, Ricky Williams, Gibril Wilson, Gerald Sensabaugh, T.J.Houshmandzadeh, Braylon Edwards, Santonio Holmes, Terrell Owens, Steve Smith, Lawyer Milloy, Ronnie Brown, Phillip Buchanon, Jammal Brown, Billy Volek, Jason Taylor, unrestricted free agents, Mark Clayton, Chris Hovan, Rex Grossman, Tyler Thigpen, Randy Moss, Kris Jenkins, ESPN Stats & Information, Chris Houston, Alex Smith, Brandon McGowan, Danieal Manning, Bruce Gradkowski, Michael Lewis, Fred Taylor, Steve Breaston, Roy Williams, Nnamdi Asomugha, Trevor Pryce, Santana Moss, Tavaris Jackson, Pat Williams, Kellen Clemens, Julian Peterson, Donte Stallworth, Kerry Collins, Brodie Croyle, Cedric Benson, Clinton Portis, Zach Miller, Brian Westbrook, Damien Woody, Troy Smith, Marc Bulger, Kevin Faulk, Ray Edwards, Sidney Rice, Antonio Cromartie, Jamal Williams, Mathias Kiwanuka, Patrick Ramsey, Aaron Francisco, Joseph Addai, Darren Sproles, Matt Leinart, Tony Richardson, Ike Taylor, Josh Wilson, Matt Hasselbeck, Atari Bigby, Cullen Jenkins, Jason Babin, Marcus Spears, Jonathan Joseph, Paul Posluszny, Matt Light, Doug Free, Trent Edwards, Mewelde Moore, Sammy Morris, Dominic Rhodes, Kevin Smith, Ahmad Bradshaw, Jerom Harrison, Brandon Jackson, Laurence Maroney, LeRon McClain, Malcolm Floyd, James Jones, Mike Sims-Walker, Brad Smith, Desmond Clark, Donald Lee, Randy McMichael, Bo Scaife, Kevin Boss, Owen Daniels, Daniel Fells, Ben Patrick, Matt Spaeth, David Baas, Robert Gallery, Adam Goldberg, Kyle Kosier, Olin Kreutz, Sean Locklear, Casey Rabach, Chris Spencer, Langston Walker, Casey Wiegmann, Floyd Womack, Chris Chester, Jeromey Clary, Daryn Colledge, Willie Colon, Jared Gaither, Charlie Johnson, Deuce Lutui, Samson Satele, Lyle Sendlein, Marshal Yanda, Aubrayo Franklin, Tommis Harris, Chris Hoke, Bryan Robinson, Gerard Warren, Alan Branch, Barry Cofield, John McCargo, Brandon Mebane, Dave Ball, Raheem Brock, Andre Carter, Shaun Ellis, Travis LaBoy, Akin Ayodele, Keith Bulluck, Kevin Burnett, Dhani Jones, Kirk Morrison, Matt Roth, Takeo Spikes, Mike Vrabel, Stewart Bradley, Bobby Carpenter, Manny Lawson, Ernie Sims, Stephen Tulloch, Chris Carr, Drayton Florence, Ellis Hobbs, Carlos Rogers, Lito Sheppard, Fabian Washington, Drew Coleman, Demitri Patterson, Eric Wright, Ken Hamlin, Quintin Mikell, Brodney Pool, Melvin Bullitt, Abram Elam, Dashon Goldson, Michael Huff, Dawan Landry, Bernard Pollard, Eric Weedle, Donte Whitner

SPONSORED HEADLINES

NFC SOUTH SCOREBOARD