There’s no better way to prepare for free agency and the NFL Draft than to dig into each and every team and try to pinpoint weaknesses in an attempt to predict which positions they’ll address in the offseason.
I suggest that you do the same and attempt to draw up your own predictions for the teams that interest you, but in the event you’d rather just lean over my shoulder and copy my test results, I’ll be right here waiting for you.
So we find ourselves in part two of this eight-part series as I go division by division diving into the biggest need for each NFL team this offseason. This time… it’s the NFC South. Take a look, consider this your reading for the day to continue that brain development, and feel free to let me know which positions you think are each of these team’s biggest needs in the comments below or on Twitter!
New Orleans Saints
13-3, 1st place NFC South
Lost in Wild Card Round
First pick in 2020 NFL Draft: Round 1, Pick 24
Biggest Need: Wide Receiver
The Saints already have one of the league’s best wide receivers in Michael Thomas, but why wouldn’t they try to add another playmaker on the outside while their Super Bowl window is still open? New Orleans has pieces at the position outside of Thomas, but nobody that opponents truly fear on a weekly basis. This is the perfect offseason for the Saints to address the wide receiver position with several quality options available as free agents while the 2020 NFL Draft is also fairly loaded at the position.
Top Free Agents: Amari Cooper, A.J. Green, Robby Anderson, Emmanuel Sanders, Demarcus Robinson
Top NFL Draft Prospects: Jerry Jeudy (Alabama), CeeDee Lamb (Oklahoma), Henry Ruggs (Alabama), Tee Higgins (Clemson), Laviska Shenault (Colorado), Jalen Reagor (TCU)
7-9, tied 2nd place NFC South
First pick in 2020 NFL Draft: Round 1, Pick 16
Biggest Need: Edge Rusher
There’s definitely an argument to be made for offensive line here, but after spending two first-round picks on the OL in 2019, I see the Falcons making edge rusher their top priority this offseason. Atlanta finished tied for second to last in the NFL with just 28 sacks in 2019 and have basically cut off negotiations with impeding free agent, Vic Beasley. It’s a great year to be in the market for an edge rusher, as you can learn more about the 2020 NFL Draft class of edge rushers in our latest podcast, so expect the Falcons to target the best edge rusher available at No. 16 in the event they don’t prioritize the position in free agency.
Top Free Agents: Jadeveon Clowney, Arik Armstead, Yannick Ngakoue, Shaq Barrett, Dante Fowler
Top NFL Draft Prospects: Chase Young (Ohio St.), A.J. Epenesa (Iowa), K’Lavon Chaisson (LSU), Yetur Gross-Matos (Penn St.), Terrell Lewis (Alabama)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
7-9, tied 2nd place NFC South
First pick in 2020 NFL Draft: Round 1, Pick 14
Biggest Need: Quarterback
Yes, Jameis Winston led the NFL in passing yards last season, but regardless of how many yards you throw for, you’re not going to compete for division, conference or Super Bowl titles if you throw 30 interceptions. At a certain point you have to cut ties with a quarterback if the results haven’t changed, and that time is now for the Buccaneers. The signs are pointing for the Bucs to address the position via free agency if they move on from Winston, as Philip Rivers has been the hot rumor for a while now, but that would be a temporary fix at best given Rivers’ age. It’ll be an interesting offseason in Tampa Bay, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see multiple QB’s added via free agency and the draft.
Top Free Agents: Dak Prescott, Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Ryan Tannehill, Philip Rivers
Top NFL Draft Prospects: Joe Burrow (LSU), Tua Tagovailoa (Alabama), Justin Herbert (Oregon), Jordan Love (Utah St.), Jacob Eason (Washington)
5-11, 4th place NFC South
First pick in 2020 NFL Draft: Round 1, Pick 7
Biggest Need: Offensive Line
You’ll hear the argument for quarterback being the Panthers’ top need this offseason, but I’m part of the crowd that believes Cam Newton needs one more chance (to prove he’s healthy) and I don’t like the idea of completely writing off Will Grier based on a very small sample size. I’m not breaking any news here by saying the best way to protect your franchise quarterback is solidifying your offensive line, and that’s exactly what I think the Panthers should prioritize this offseason. I expect quite the bidding war during free agency for this offseason’s top tackles, but the Panthers will definitely have the opportunity to land one of the draft’s top tackles with the No. 7 overall pick.
Top Free Agents: Anthony Castonzo, Jack Conklin, Andrew Whitworth, Jason Peters, Bryan Bulaga
Top NFL Draft Prospects: Jedrick Wills (Alabama), Andrew Thomas (Georgia), Tristan Wirfs (Iowa), Mekhi Becton (Louisville), Josh Jones (Houston)
Other divisions we’ve covered to this point: