Chris O’Meara/Associated Press

Atlanta Falcons: Prioritizing O-Line Instead of D-Line

The trenches are a sore spot for the Falcons. Both sides of the ball need help, especially if defensive tackle Grady Jarrett leaves during free agency. 

Positional value should dictate the Falcons’ draft approach, not preference

Even if the Falcons retain Garrett, they could use a new 1-tech and increased edge pressure. Those positions are more likely to be properly addressed in the first round, whereas starters at guard are regularly found during Day 2 or later. 

            

Carolina Panthers: Not Properly Protecting Cam Newton

Julius Peppers, Thomas Davis and Ryan Kalil won’t play for Carolina next season, which means the Panthers are Cam Newton’s team more than ever. As such, the Panthers must make a conscious effort to protect the quarterback whose season ended early thanks to a shoulder injury that required surgery. 

Left tackle Matt Kalil hasn’t lived up to his five-year, $55.5 million deal, and right tackle Daryl Williams is set to become a free agent. Uncertainty also exists along the interior.

Carolina doesn’t have to spend a first-round pick on the offensive line, but it can’t be ignored, either. Going into the season with some combination of Matt Kalil, Taylor Moton, Tyler Larsen, Trai Turner and Greg Van Roten isn’t enough. 

         

New Orleans Saints: Using Lone Premium Pick on Anything Other Than a QB

The clock is ticking for the Saints to find their eventual replacement for Drew Brees.

Brees is still an MVP-caliber quarterback, but he also turned 40 in mid-January. The Saints can’t possibly believe Taysom Hill is his long-term replacement. Meanwhile, Teddy Bridgewater will almost certainly be looking for a starting opportunity in free agency. 

After trading up for defensive end Marcus Davenport last year, the Saints don’t have a first-round pick in this year’s draft. If they don’t use a second-rounder on their quarterback of the future, they may wind up wasting another year of developmental time behind Brees.

                    

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Not Trading Down

The Buccaneers sit in a position of strength. This year’s fifth overall pick could become the draft’s most tradable commodity since Tampa Bay sits directly in front of the quarterback-needy New York Giants.

If the opportunity to trade down for additional assets arises, general manager Jason Licht can’t turn it down. Tampa Bay likely won’t be in position to draft one of the elite defensive prospects, so it’ll be better served moving down, adding more picks and addressing its issues later in the draft.

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