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NFL draft needs: South divisions

NFL draft needs: South divisions

Panthers quarterback Cam Newton takes the snap during the second half of a game against the Jaguars on Sept. 13.

(Phelan M. Ebenhack / Associated Press)

The NFL draft will be held Thursday, Friday and Saturday in Chicago. Times NFL writer Sam Farmer examines team needs by division and in order of when they select.

The South divisions:

AFC South

JAGUARS – Jacksonville needs to upgrade its defense, both up front and in the secondary. A fast linebacker such as UCLA’s Myles Jack could be a fit, and Jaguars Coach Gus Bradley has known him since their days in Seattle. Jacksonville could use a guard, and a playmaking defensive back — maybe Florida State’s Jalen Ramsey if he’s around.

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NFL draft needs: East divisions

NFL draft needs: North divisions

NFL draft needs: West divisions

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TITANS - Tennessee bailed out of the No. 1 spot, accepting a boatload of draft picks from the Rams to move back to 15. The Titans still might be on the move, and perhaps backward to compile even more picks. The team needs blockers who can protect quarterback Marcus Mariota, last year’s No. 2 selection. The Titans have used their top pick on an offensive player in five consecutive drafts.

COLTS - Indianapolis has the 18th pick, and it too needs offensive linemen. According to NFL.com, Indianapolis quarterbacks have been hit a league-high 450 times since the club made Andrew Luck the No.¿1 selection in 2012. On the other side of the ball, the Colts would like help rushing the passer, at cornerback, and at defensive tackle. There’s a good chance, though, that they’ll take a blocker with their first pick.

TEXANS - Houston addressed its need for a quarterback by luring Brock Osweiler from Denver at a cost of $18 million per season. Now, giving him another receiving target is a priority, something the Texans should be able to do with the 22nd selection. There’s also a shortage of running backs in Houston, a need that was apparent even before the Texans parted ways with longtime tailback Arian Foster.

NFC South

BUCCANEERS - Tampa Bay, which picks ninth, would like to upgrade at right tackle in order to protect quarterback Jameis Winston, the No. 1 pick last year. But the team also could use help on defense, such as picking up Florida cornerback Vernon Hargreaves. Opposing quarterbacks had the second-highest average rating against Tampa Bay last season, and the Buccaneers were terrible in giving up passing touchdowns.

SAINTS - It has become a familiar refrain: New Orleans needs help on defense. Opposing quarterbacks had an astronomical average passer rating of 116.1, the worst in NFL history by far, and threw for a league-record 45 touchdowns. The likelihood is the Saints will take the best defensive player on their board, regardless of position, when they pick 12th overall. Good thing for New Orleans this is a deep draft on that side of the ball.

FALCONS - Like the Saints, Atlanta needs help on defense. The Falcons finished with a league-low 19 sacks last season. That could mean they take an outside linebacker such as Ohio State’s Darron Lee when they pick at 17. A run-stopper would help too, as Atlanta yielded a league-high 20 rushing touchdowns in 2015. Coach Dan Quinn is looking for leaders, so guys who were college team captains are particularly appealing to him.

PANTHERS - Carolina finished the regular season 15-1 and made it all the way to the Super Bowl, so its shelves are largely stocked. The Panthers could use more bang from their buck with their pass rushers, though, so watch for them to upgrade there, perhaps with their 31st pick. They probably aren’t looking for an outside linebacker-type, but a bigger 4-3 end who can stop the run could help too.

The Rams have the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft Thursday. Coach Jeff Fisher and General Manager Les Snead met with the media Tuesday to discuss who they could select. 

Follow Sam Farmer on Twitter @LATimesFarmer