Pat Kirwan examines the draft needs for all 32 teams, by division, this week. The biggest need for each team is listed first and followed in descending order.
Needs: DE, WR, nickel CB, TE, OLB, RT
Atlanta is a solid team with specific needs. An end opposite John Abraham who could be his eventual replacement would help. A wide receiver to pair with Roddy White would give Matt Ryan another target when teams roll coverage to White. TE Tony Gonzalez is probably in his last season and doesn't separate like he used to. A linebacker with blitz skills who could play on the tight end side would put Sean Weatherspoon on the weak side, where he could run and hit.
*Draft choices: 27, 59, 91, 123, 155, 187, 199, 219, 220
Needs: QB, DE, DT, OLB, CB
Rivera on pre-draft evaluations
With Drew Brees, Matt Ryan and Josh Freeman in the division, there is a quarterback issue in Carolina. When you consider the Panthers gave up what turned out to be the first pick in the second round to trade up for WR Armanti Edwards last year, you realize they can't fix all of their problems in one draft.
*Draft choices: 1, 65, 97, 129, 161
New Orleans Saints
Needs: OLB, DE, S, OL
The Saints have a solid roster and the addition of DT Shaun Rogers, if he's in shape and ready to take orders from defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, only helps the interior defensive line rotation. New Orleans should continue to focus on that side of the ball early in the draft, especially on the front seven.
If free agency happens prior to the draft, it is possible the Saints' needs will change dramatically, because of the high number of players scheduled to hit the open market. Currently, finding DE Alex Brown's eventual replacement is a must. Adding an outside linebacker to replace Danny Clark and/or push Scott Shanle is also important. One area that is not a concern is tight end. New Orleans hit a home run when it took a chance on Jimmy Graham last year and released Jeremy Shockey as a result.
With four picks in the top 88, GM Mickey Loomis and coach Sean Payton should hit on their top needs.
*Draft choices: 24, 56, 72, 88, 216
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Needs: DE, OLB, MLB, CB, G
It's no secret a pass rushing defensive end is missing, and should be available with the 20th overall pick. I also hear middle linebacker Barrett Ruud will not be brought back, so a signal-caller who can play the Tampa 2 defense is important. CB Ronde Barber re-signed, but the team must find and develop the 14-year veteran's eventual replacement.
*Draft choices: 20, 51, 84, 115, 148, 182, 212
*The draft picks are unofficial at this point. The league is expected to release the complete draft order by the end of March.