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Move-countermove: Three teams serve notice within division

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You know how teams send out nickel personnel to combat three- and four-wide receiver sets? Well, to some degree, that's what takes place during the draft. Teams not only select players to build their rosters but also to combat others -- especially those within their divisions.

In this draft, three teams stood out in making moves that either were in response to how something played out last season or more of an offensive means to make other teams react. In some cases, it was both.

Falcons' 2011 draft class
Rd
Sel. #
Player
Pos.
School
1
6
WR
Alabama
3
91
LB
Georgia
5
145
RB
Oregon St.
6
192
PK
Miami
7
210
OL
Fresno St.
7
230
DE
South Carolina
» Falcons' pick-by-pick analysis

Falcons: Putting defenders on notice

The Falcons made the boldest (a lot of people are referring to it as something else) move in the draft, trading two first-round picks, a second and two fourths to move up to the sixth spot to select wide receiver Julio Jones. Say what you will about what it cost Atlanta, but adding Jones and mighty-mite running back Jaquizz Rogers (fifth round) to a skill group that includes Roddy White, Michael Turner, Tony Gonzalez, Jason Snelling, and Michael Jenkins will have division foes assessing their defenses.

Tampa Bay and Carolina already have questions in their secondaries, and now having to find extra defensive backs is a priority. I was in Carolina all week and was told by a team official that bolstering depth and quality at cornerback was a priority. The Saints, meanwhile, have done a great job of building their defensive backfield over the past three seasons. They added a pass-rushing defensive end in Cameron Jordan and a solid outside linebacker in Martez Wilson to be able to counter what Atlanta might offer.

In fact, New Orleans could cause the most reactionary moves of any team. The Saints had already caused problems with their use of multiple formations and receivers. In drafting a power runner in Mark Ingram to add to power runners Pierre Thomas and Chris Ivory, they can exploit defenses -- especially when they line up in nickel formations -- by hammering them up the gut with their potentially powerful running game that is spearheaded by arguably the nastiest interior line in the league.

Packers' 2011 draft class
Rd
Sel. #
Player
Pos.
School
1
32
OT
Miss. St.
2
64
WR
Kentucky
3
96
RB
Hawaii
4
131
CB
New Mexico St.
5
141
TE
Arkansas
6
179
OL
Utah
6
186
LB
Appalachian St.
6
197
DE
Arizona
7
218
TE
North Carolina
7
233
DT
Arizona St.
» Packers' pick-by-pick analysis

Packers: Protecting, aiding Rodgers

Green Bay had some age at offensive tackle and addressed it last year by drafting Bryan Bulaga in the first round. They took Mississippi State offensive tackle Derek Sherrod in the first round this year. Besides depth, Sherrod brings enough ready-made skill to allow the Packers to kick Bulaga inside to guard if needed or play a "heavy" tight end in an unbalanced formation.

The added beef up front could be needed to fend off the potentially fearsome defensive front Detroit has put together by adding Auburn rookie defensive tackle to a line that features Ndamukong Suh, Kyle Vanden Bosch, Corey Williams, and Cliff Avril.

Where the Packers might have set the division on edge is by adding wide receiver Randall Cobb and flex tight end D.J. Williams. Their big-play versatility gives them even more variety with the packages they could assemble. Detroit and Minnesota are lacking in their secondaries, and the Bears' selection of highly underrated safety Chris Conte might not be enough.

Bills' 2011 draft class
Rd
Sel. #
Player
Pos.
School
1
3
DT
Alabama
2
34
CB
Texas
3
68
LB
LSU
4
100
S
North Carolina
4
122
OL
Clemson
5
133
RB
North Carolina
6
169
LB
Miss. St.
7
206
CB
Richmond
7
245
DT
Bethel (TN)
» Bills' pick-by-pick analysis

Bills: Stopping the ground game

Do you think it's a coincidence that the Bills selected four defensive players from big-time college programs with their first four picks? By taking defensive tackle Marcell Dareus from Alabama third overall and three players at the next two levels (DB Aaron Williams, LB Kelvin Sheppard and DB Da'Norris Searcy), Buffalo nabbed two interior defenders and a big safety -- Searcy -- to help fortify against the run.

That probably was the plan from the outset with the way the Jets and Dolphins base things on their ground games. Now, based on the draft, Buffalo's moves could also help against the Patriots, with running backs Shane Vareen and Stevan Ridley providing more semblance of a running game.

Follow Steve Wyche on Twitter @wyche89.

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