NFL Draft Preview: NFC South

Read our complete 2006 NFL Draft Coverage!

Atlanta Falcons
Current 1st Round Draft Position: None
Top Team Needs: CB, S, OG, OT

CB: DeAngelo Hall is an elite CB, but opposite him are concerns. Jason Webster is adequate, but not special. Kevin Mathis may never recover from major reconstructive knee surgery. And the depth is suspect. The Falcons have no picks in the first round, but since this a deep CB draft they may use their first pick in the second round to get a CB who can compete for a starting job, or at least the nickel job right away.

S: Lawyer Milloy was a great signing, but will be 33 by seasons end. Chris Crocker was received in a trade with Cleveland so the Falcons have 2 new starting Safeties, which tells you a lot about what they had before. But there are depth concerns and someone should be drafted who could eventually take over one of the starting spots. OG: The Falcons have adequate Guards in Matt Lehr and Kynan Forney, but neither is special and the depth lacks talent. An interior lineman who can push for a starting job would be a good addition.

OT: Trading for Wayne Gandy to replace departed Kevin Shaffer was a great move, but Gandy is 35 and a long term replacement needs to be groomed. Last years rookie, Frank Omiyale has a chance, but didn't play in a single game so he is untested.

Carolina Panthers
Current 1st Round Draft Position: 27th
Top Team Needs: S, TE, QB, OT

S: With Thomas Davis moving to OLB, oft-injured Shaun Williams and unproven Kevin McCadam were both signed to compete for the starting job at SS. Whether either will be adequate is in question and while both are young, the Panthers are likely to look at the draft for a more long term replacement.

TE: Kris Mangum is steady, but isn't the type of receiving threat the Panthers would like to have at the position. Backups Michael Gaines and Mike Seidman are merely adequate. A presence at the position who can take greater advantage of the attention Steve Smith and Keyshawn Johnson will garner on the outside would be a big plus for Carolina.

QB: Jake Delhomme is in no danger of losing his job, but the backup spot is dicey with Chris Weinke and Stefan LaFors. Weinke hasn't proven he can be effective as a starter and LaFors doesn't possess enough size or strength to give much hope he will be able to step in if anything happens to Delhomme. Look for Carolina to take a QB on day 2.

OT: Travelle Wharton was inconsistent in 2005 on the left side, but he's young and can still develop. Jordan Gross is solid at RT, but the depth is suspect. Adding an OT who can provide depth at the position should be a focus, and if that player can push Wharton, so much the better.

New Orleans Saints
Current 1st Round Draft Position: 2nd
Top Team Needs: OT, C, DT, LB, QB

OT: The current plan is for Jamaal Brown to slide to LT from the RT spot he started at last year and for Jon Stinchcomb to replace Brown at RT. This should scare the Saints as Brown may not be as good on the left side as the right and Stinchcomb missed the entire 2005 season with a knee injury. The best case scenario has Brown making a successful transition from one side of the line to the other and Stinchcomb to fully recover from his knee injury and follow through on the promise of talent that made him a second round pick a couple of years ago. But even then, there is a serious lack of quality depth behind both. While the Saints may not use the second overall pick on a Tackle, they should use a first day pick somewhere on one.

C: LeCharles Bentley won't be easy to replace. Jamar Nesbit is expected to make the move from G to C and while he may be adequate starting at C, he's probably better suited as a G. The Saints have questions all along the interior OL and it will be a big surprise if they don't draft a C and a G as well on draft weekend.

DT: The Saints were 27th in run defense in 2005 and the blame falls squarely on the shoulders of the interior of the defensive line. Former 1st round pick Jonathan Sullivan hasn't made the impact expected, and Brian Young isn't big enough to clog the rushing lanes or strong enough stand up to big interior offensive lineman. At worst, someone is needed here to push for a starting job. At best, quality depth is a must.

LB: Another failing of the defense was the LB spot. The Saints have drafted MLB's Courtney Watson and Alfred Fincher on the first day in each of the last 2 drafts, but neither has capitalized on their opportunities. Colby Bockwoldt could move to the inside allowing free agent signees Scott Fujita and Anthony Simmons to play OLB, but then there is concerns about depth behind Fujita and Simmons. The Saints may choose to pass on LB in the draft and see whether Watson or Fincher pan out, thusly allowing them more flexibility with the talented Bockwoldt, but that's a risk as neither has shown much.

QB: While the Saints may not think this is an area to be addressed, I beg to differ. Drew Brees is coming off a shoulder injury and while he's steady, he was not worth the big dollar contract they signed him to. Todd Bauman is barely a legitimate backup QB, and Adrian McPherson likely needs at least another year or two learning the NFL. McPherson has a lot of potential, but it's a gamble whether he'll ever pan out in the NFL. With the opportunity to select either Matt Leinart or Vince Young, the Saints appear to be okay with making a mistake and passing on both.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Current 1st Round Draft Position: 23rd
Top Team Needs: OT, DE, WR, LB

OT: Singing Torrin Tucker from Dallas provides good insurance behind Kenyatta Walker and Anthony Davis, but none are dominant at their positions. Last years 3rd round pick Chris Colmer was a disappointment and it wouldn't be a surprise to see an OT taken on the first day by Tampa Bay.

DE: Simeon Rice and Greg Spires are both great DE's, but both will be 32 when the season starts. Dewayne White is a good situational backup, but whether he can be an every down DE is questioned. Grooming this position for the future should come in this draft for the Bucs.

WR: After an outstanding rookie campaign in 2004, Michael Clayton suffered a big sophomore slump last year. Minor injuries took their toll, but don't explain the plethora of dropped passes Clayton had. Joey Galloway had his best season as a pro, but will be 35 in November. The Bucs spent 3 second day picks on WR's in 2005, but whether any of them will ever be starters is very questionable. If the team has questions about Clayton, it won't be a surprise if they take a WR on day one.

LB: The middle spot is safe with Shelton Quarles and last years 2nd round pick Barrett Ruud being groomed as his eventual replacement, but on the outside, there is need to be thinking of grooming a replacement for Derrick Brooks. Ryan Nece starts opposite him and is solid, and the addition of Jamie Winborn is great for depth, but replacing Brooks, who is 33, should be something the Bucs start thinking about.

See Russ's other 2006 NFL Draft articles:

Russ Bliss is FantasyFootballStarters.com's exclusive fantasy football expert, a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association, and for 10 years has been the radio host of "The Red Zone, Talking Fantasy Football and the NFL," in Phoenix, Arizona.

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