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Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Ranking the needs: Defensive backs

By Pat Yasinskas

We conclude our pre-draft rankings of position-group needs with the defensive backs.

Remember, the earlier the ranking, the greater the need.

Carolina Panthers: General manager Dave Gettleman has assembled a group of guys that could be decent second or third cornerbacks. But the Panthers still could be in the market for a true No. 1 cornerback. They also need to upgrade at safety.

New Orleans Saints: The pass defense was a mess last year. That’s why the Saints signed cornerback Keenan Lewis as a free agent. They’re hoping Jabari Greer can bounce back from a rough season, but they may want to upgrade from Patrick Robinson as the nickel back. The Saints also could look for a safety to challenge Roman Harper.

Atlanta Falcons: The only reason I have the Falcons third in this area is because everything is relative. The Panthers and the Saints have desperate needs in the secondary. The Falcons, who have Pro Bowl safeties in Thomas DeCoud and William Moore, aren’t desperate but they do have a significant need at cornerback. They need one more starting-caliber cornerback to go with Asante Samuel and Robert McClain.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: A couple days ago, the Bucs would have topped this list. But the trade for cornerback Darrelle Revis changed everything. Tampa Bay suddenly has a pretty solid secondary with Revis joining Eric Wright and safeties Dashon Goldson and Mark Barron. But it still is possible Tampa Bay could draft a cornerback fairly early because they’re unsettled at nickel back.