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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
Follow Sam Farmer on Twitter @LATimesFarmer